President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, any way out? For some western powers, it would appear that Mugabe is now in a bind, that there is no way out; but Icheoku says don't count your chicken yet! Mugabe is a warrior and will survive!
President Robert Mugabe is not going anywhere soon and the precedents are there for the whole world to understand that African leaders do not willingly concede their seats to another. Most recently in Kenya, President Mwai Kibaki stole a freely won election from Odinga and after all was said and done, an arrangement was reached where he now co-governs Kenya, despite losing the election to the opposition. In Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo wanted a third term but was frustrated. He turned around and single- handedly picked Umaru Yar'Adua and installed him as president. Despite the lack of any credible election in Nigeria, the many cries and shouting, today, Umaru Yar'Adua is recognized the world over as the President of Nigeria, receiving red carpet receptions whenever he steps into any country in the world. South Africaís Thabo Mbeki tried it but powerful Zuma whom the ANC thronged to, thwarted his plan. So, why would Robert Mugabe listen to the world when precedents have shown that after a while, the hot air usually blows away?
Africa it would seem was not tailored for a democratic governance! Before the advent of the Europeans, Africa was merely kingdoms, fiefdoms and empires ruled by various kings, rulers, emirs and emperors! The sit-tight tendencies in present day leaders run in their body genome, blood! Almost all African leaders are guilty as Robert Mugabe hence they do not have the moral high-grounds to look Mugabe in the eye and ask him to do right and respect the wishes of the Zimbabwe people.
Of the fifty countries/states that make up Africa, about twenty five of them are under the jackboot of very sit-tight rulers, who are ruling their people autocratically; with tacit approval of the west. Take for example, Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak who has been in power since 1981. Muammar Qaddafi of Libya has also been in power since 1969 and today the west is wooing him because of proven and known oil reserves in the Libyan desert. In Angola, Jose Eduardo dos Santos has ruled the country's 17 million people since 1979. In Cameroon, Paul Biya has presided over the country's affairs since succeeding Ahmadu Ahidjo in 1982 prior to which he was Prime Minister from 1975 until his succession. In Burkina Faso, Blaise Campore assassinated former head of State Sankara and has remained the country's despotic leader since 1987.
In Cape Verde a country of just about 530,000 people their President Pedro de Verona Rodriguez Pires has been in power virtually since 1975. In Republic of Congo, Denis Sassou-Nguesso has presided over this country of 3.8million people since 1979 and same longevity goes with Obiang Nguema of Equatorial Guinea. Eritrea's Isaias Afewerki has been in charge of his tiny country since 1993. Gambia's Yahya Jammeh also has seen the greater 14years since he rose to power in 1994. In Guinea Bissau President Joao Bernardo Vieira has presided over his country since 1980 with a little break for only four years. Chad's Idriss Deby has been running the game-show in N'Djamena since 1991. Mali's Amadou Toumani Toure has been in power since 1991. Mauritius Prime Minister Navim Ramgoolam first came to power in 1995. Tunisia's Zine El Abidine first came to power in 1987; Uganda's Yoweri Museveni in 1986. Gabon's Omar Bongo has been in power since 1967 and this is a man who has dined and wined with all the presidents of the West including President Bush.
Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia has been in power since 1991 and same goes with Guinea's Lansana Conte since 1984. In Morrocco, King Mohammed VI has ruled since 1999; Lesotho's King Letsie III has been in power since 1990 and King Mswati of Swaziland since 1986. Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe's 1980 ascension to power, although very long, is not the longest ruler-ship in Africa as Omar Bongo of Gabon holds that "ignoble" title. The question now is why single out Robert Mugabe? Why should Robert Mugabe be asked to give up his power? Is it because he has no power guaranteed security insurance of OIL flowing under the grounds of Zimbabwe to mortgage or serve as his collateral?
Aside from Nelson Mandela of South Africa who stepped down from power in 1999 and Sam Nujoma of Namibia who stepped down in 2005, virtually no other African leader has voluntarily conceded his office to another person in recent recorded history.
It may be a tradition after-all, Africa is used to having kings, rulers, emperors and Supreme heads before the advent of the white-man; so the idea of a rotational head of governments is anathema and an alien culture which Africa is yet to get used to! Each serving African Head of State or President sees himself as the absolute king or ruler or emperor, supreme head or potentate and any idea of leaving for another is unthinkable until death otherwise decrees; before which they usually would have primed one of their sons to carry on their assumed mandate - Togo's Faure Gnassingbe and Democratic Republic of Congo's Joseph Kabila readily exemplify this.
Moreover all African heads of States and governments are inco-hoot with one another. Take for example President Paul Kagame of Rwanda who used to be the security chief for Yoweri Museveni helped him fight during Museveniís guerrilla war. As a return of favor, Museveni sponsored Kagame's take over of Kigali. So how can an East African regional power like Uganda effectively urge Kagame to do right if he goes astray since both of them are co-travelers in the journey of infamous political mercenary in Africa? As a one time guerrilla, President Bashir of Sudan once fought alongside the Egyptians in the war against the Israelis in 1973 and yet you wonder why the Darfur crisis has not been resolved! Couldn't Mubarak put pressure on Bashir to do right if he chooses to, but no, he owed him that favor to do whatever and however he pleases in his own fiefdom? ZANU-PF's Robert Mugabe and ANC's Mandela, Mbeki and Zuma waged resistance fight together against white oppressive rules in Southern Africa, which explains the difficulty of a buddy going against another buddy by condemning his actions publicly.
Most African leaders were guerrilla fighters who fought their way from the forest and jungles of Africa to their respective government houses hence they see governance as the trophy for their effort and theirs for keeps. Their perception of governance as their war spoil makes it very difficult for them to voluntarily and peacefully transfer authorities to another person. They see it as a sell out to hand over what "belongs" to them to another and hence very unimaginable. Their attitude then becomes, if you want it so badly, come and get it. This is the reason why change of government or succession in Africa is usually through counter-insurgency or out right coup de tat's. Moreover because of the power over life and death which governance bequeaths on the governor in Africa, many of their minions including their wife/wives find it absolutely a no brainier to loose their position of authority and hence dissuade emphatically a willing president from conceding authority.
Additionally, the western powers are very selective in their decisions as to who goes and who stays in power both in Africa and the world at large, thus have lost their moral authority to effectively broker a resounding resolution in Africa's numerous political conflicts. In Russia, Vladimir Putin single handedly put Medvedev in power, locking away all oppositions in the process, what did the west do? Nothing because energy guarantees to Europe mean more than some few disgruntled oppositions in Russian jails/prisons. Nigeria's Olusegun Obasanjo did a similar thing with Umaru Yar'Adua but because Nigeria has power guarantee security insurance of OIL, the west is today working together with an illegitimate Umaru Yar'Adua's government.
It is this attitude of "whenever the shoe fits" hypocrisy of the west that is the bane of Africa and many other places in the world. Take for instance, Hosni Mubarak who has been a despotic maximum ruler of Egypt for over 27 years now; despite all agitations for a true democracy therein and evidence of his lost elections and intimidation of opposition including the banned Muslim Brotherhood, he is still doing business with America - the democracy crusader! Icheoku will like to ask, despite his flagrant violations of human rights, who is America's most beloved African leader? Hosni Mubarak! And this position has not changed despite recorded human rights violations and his maniacal zero tolerance of opposition activities in the land of the Pharaohs! Another despot in Africa is President Omar Bongo of Gabon who has been in power in Libreville since 1967; yet this midget dines and wines with all the Western leaders because he has power guarantee security insurance of oil and you wonder are the Gabonese not suitable for democracy? Why have Western powers not raised an eyebrow about this entrenched ruler of Gabon all these years (41 in total)?
For Robert Mugabe to be singled out as "the MUST GO candidate" is not understandable to many African leaders in view of what is prevalent throughout the continent. This singular vindictive attitude towards Mugabe smacks of a somewhat pay-back day for Robert Mugabe for humiliating the British colonial powers out of the then Rhodesia and for redistributing lands that were illegally appropriated by the white settlers in now Zimbabwe. Was Mugabe the first African leader to annul an election? Where is Nigeria's MKO Abiola today, a victim of an annulled election? How many times did Mubarak of Egypt cancel elections that were clearly won by the opposition? Who elected Omar Bongo for forty one years in Gabon? It is all a smoke screen for some ulterior agenda which an election, boycotted by the opposition has provided a way and means of accomplishing in Zimbabwe!
How can you come to one's land and take for yourself all the choice areas therein while the native inhabitants have virtually nothing? Which leader so called will not take exact same action as Mugabe took to redress an apparent injustice? Now the heavens will fall because some people lost a piece of property? These were the same white settlers who fed live Africans to their lions and tigers and no eyelid was batted by the West. The same white settlers whose oppressive apartheid government was accommodated by the West for a long period of time. The same west that designated Nelson Mandela and his compatriots' freedom fighters as terrorists until very recently!
The gist of the matter is that there is no existing moral authority to make Robert Mugabe to relinquish office voluntarily; and he being a freedom fighter will not be easily intimidated into a retreat, more-so since South Africa still backs him! They were fellow freedom fighters who dodged bullets together as well as lived guerrilla jungle life together while fighting for their people's freedom. The bonding developed over the years and cannot be just thrown overboard because Washington, Paris or London have said so. The memory of the oppressive apartheid regime is still too fresh in the minds of these resistant hero-Presidents of South Africa and Zimbabwe for them to embrace the West and turn against one of their own.
A time like this calls for a show of leadership by African leaders so called and urge the west to put some brakes; the west should show caution in the present fanned-crisis in Zimbabwe! Let an African solution be allowed to prevail - even if this means letting the 80year old grandpa Robert Mugabe live out his very limited time on earth, in view of his very advanced age, as life president of Zimbabwe, so be it; provided anarchy is avoided in Zimbabwe at all cost. The whole African continent is festooned with wars and mayhem strewn across the continent from Congo, Darfour, Rwanda, Somalia, Western Polisario Front to Uganda. The list goes on and on. Why add more instability to the already instabilized Africa? If America could tolerate Cuba's Fidel Castro for over fifty years until he retired recently, why not extend the same courtesy to Robert Mugabe? If the west is looking for some state building role in Africa, Darfour is waiting for them; so does Somalia, the Congo as well as the unfinished business in Liberia etc.
The only meaningful thing anybody can do is to try and be an honest broker and be seen to be really one by every concerned party with interest; otherwise it will be a hot air that will soon blow away. In Kenya the West agreed to let Kibaki steal an election won by Odinga because Odinga had some communist background and so they cannot fully trust him to be president of Kenya; hence they settled for a shared mandate! Maybe if Kibaki had been forced out and made to concede an election which he lost to Odinga in Kenya, Robert Mugabe would have seen a precedent to follow. Robert Mugabe probably asked himself, "but Kibaki had his way in Kenya so why not Mugabe in Zimbabwe? Such arranged governance in Kenya will surely be the fate of Zimbabwe; after-all Mugabe was even "honorable enough" to organize an election in the first place; which African leaders usually do not do. Remember the case in Nigeria where the former President Olusegun Obasanjo imposed a president on Nigeria without any credible election whatsoever. The West threw tantrums but today are cavorting Umaru Yar'Adua because of Nigeria's oil. It is called condonation and corroboration as a result of power guarantee security insurance of OIL! This is the bane of the neo-colonial societies foist on Africa by the lopsidedness of western policies therein.
If the West seriously wants to make an impact in African democracy, they must stand firmly against any African dictator whomsoever! Whether it is Hosni Mubarak of Egypt or Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, whom President Bush most recently praised very highly (during the last time he was in Africa) and yet this is a dictator who has ruled Uganda by fiat for over 21years now. Justice must not only be done but must be seen to be done! It is called fairness! Icheoku does not carry water for Robert Mugabe but strongly opposes the current arm-twisting by the west because it has the semblance of their seeking a pound of flesh in the guise of upholding an election result.
The west does not love the Zimbabwe people more than Robert Mugabe and they cannot be seen now to be crying more than the "bereaved" people of Zimbabwe. How can the west be more catholic than the pope, for crying out loud? If Robert Mugabe must go, then show some examples where it has been done before in Africa. Where has it happened before in Africa that a "leader" voluntarily conceded his office to another or a successor? Who has ever told Hosni Mubarak of Egypt to go? Who has said that Omar Bongo of Gabon should vacate the seat of power in Libreville since 1967, being the longest sit-tight head of State in Africa? The charade in Nigeria that put Umaru Yar'Adua in power since May 2007, which western leader has challenged it with every sinew in him/her; yet they are spitting fire because a similar exercise took place in Zimbabwe? The genocide in Darfur when will it be resolved and yet the government of Bahir is sponsoring the Janjaweeds death merchants! WHY THEN ROBERT MUGABE?
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