The leader's loneliness

HARARE - The Loneliness of the Long Distance Driver was a great British film, many years ago.

I have no memory of the title song or even the musical which accompanied it. What I know is that it made an impact on the film world.

Songs of loneliness have also made their mark on the entertainment world.

You’ll never Walk Alone remains a classic, although its adoption by an English football club, Liverpool, was somewhat misplaced — the team did dominate English football for a while.

That was before Manchester United, Chelsea and other clubs had their fair share.

Many readers will find it curious that I bring up all this in relation to the general comment on President Robert Mugabe’s political career at the age of more than 90. If he were to be re-elected in 2018, he would have broken some kind of record, albeit on the absurd side.

He has already chalked up 36 years in power. We don’t need to go into what adjectives writers would cook up if he were re-elected. Not that I would be one of those searching for such weird adjectives.

Certainly, I would be asked for my opinion, being one reporter who has watched Gushungo’s political rise since 1960.

There is no doubt, even now, that there are Zimbabweans who view that eventuality with fright, if not terror.

Even today, there are questions about his performance as leader of this country since 1980. What area of his performance could be confirmed as good or successful?

Neither his political nor economic performance would win any Nobel prizes — assuming some crazy statistician came up with the award.

What he cannot be denied is the ability to have kept Zimbabwe afloat, in spite of the turmoil it has undergone since 1980.

There are people alive who would argue vigorously that there were many occasions during which he would have corrected many of the disastrous errors his regime allowed in his governments.

An assessment of his regime on its successes would be a sparkling record. Politically and economically, another person, perhaps endowed with a more flexible turn of mind, would have avoided Gukurahundi altogether and, perhaps, allowed the coalition which included the MDC to continue to share power for a longer period.

At the end of it all, the power to decide which way to go is up to the people of Zimbabwe.

We now know that if all the elections in which the MDC featured participated in had been allowed to stand, the results would have been a Zanu PF victory.

Only the most pessimistic among us would dwell on the likelihood of this having taken place.

Yet, it is not entirely unreasonable for us not to wish things had been handled differently by all the people in whose such power rested.

It is not entirely fanciful to have wished that the people who believed they had won fairly would have allowed the facts to guide them to a fair, logical and positive conclusion.

There is no sense arguing that if people had set the future of the country to guide them, things would have turned out better than they did. Zimbabwe would have had a beginning that was devoid of the violence we eventually had to endure. Our history would probably have been marked by such a remarkable success that we would have been a shining example for all future African countries facing an unsteady future before their independence from colonialism.

I accept that what did occur cannot be altered. But I do believe that if a majority of us accept that we can work together to change our situation, there would be no harm.

I realise many other citizens will insist that what we have now is good enough for us.

Our struggle ought to be how to change the horror we experienced into something more acceptable than we ended up with on April 18, 1980.

Comments (1)

The loneliness of the long distance runner

andy - 1 August 2016

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