The Generals spoke and Mugabe capitulated

The Generals spoke and Mugabe capitulated

When it’s time to go, it’s time to go. Even former president Robert Mugabe in the end, proved not invincible. His day was November 21, 2017. After 37 years as the leader of Zimbabwe, he was eventually toppled.
The reason Mugabe was able to rule Zimbabwe for an incredible 37 years, despite having long lost the support of most Zimbabweans, is because of the support and protection he received from his liberation struggle comrades who wear the Zimbabwean National Army (ZNA) uniform.
But then, the Generals decided to revoke this support. And when that happened, Mugabe had no option but to resign.

The army allowed tens of thousands of Zimbabweans to march in the streets of Harare to tell the old man what they have always wanted to tell him (but were not allowed) – “Enough is enough. It’s time to go.” They sanctioned the mass demonstration because they wanted to put pressure on their Commander-in-Chief to exit.

At 93, Mugabe had become too much of a liability to the ruling elite. His advanced age and the growing influence of his wife Grace, was threatening the “good thing” that the “Dons” of Zimbabwe have had going for the last 37 years. Grace and her G40 faction were encroaching sacrosanct spaces reserved only for those who were involved in the liberation struggle.

Mugabe, by wanting to let his Mrs and her cronies into this hallowed space, had simply gone too far. This proved a betrayal too big to go unpunished. He had to be removed. So he was forced to resign.
Mugabe’s resignation was met with jubilation in Zimbabwe and all over the world where Zimbabweans are in diaspora. It mattered very little that this toppling of Mugabe was precipitated not by the desire to halt the ruin taking place in Zimbabwe, but by the need to prevent Mrs Mugabe becoming President Robert Mugabe’s successor.

There is nothing altruistic about the army’s intervention. The motivation was self-preservation and the need to stem the ascendency of Mrs Mugabe’s faction in the fight for the control of Zanu-PF and therefore the state. The old establishment feared that Grace and her faction were going to change the existing balance of power in Zimbabwe. This threat, had to be quashed before it got out of hand.

With Mugabe gone, there is now some glimmer of hope that Zimbabwe will rebuild. For there to be real change, a complete overhaul of the “system” is required. But this is unlikely to happen. Because any change in the status quo, would be too disruptive for the ruling elite.
So, for them, it makes sense to maintain the same corrupt system Zimbabwe has always had. Institutions (judiciary, media, civil society etc), that should serve and should have served as a bulwark against this unremitting onslaught against Zimbabwe these last several years, will remain weak and ineffective.

Even though Zimbabwe is not Lesotho, there are lessons we can draw from the Zimbabwean experience.
l Having an all too powerful ruling party is not a good thing
When a political party becomes too powerful, the rulers end up not being able to make a distinction between party and state i.e. they conflate the two. Having a 93-year-old as President, makes no sense to those of us outside Zanu-PF.

However, this makes perfect sense to those in the party who understand the stabilizing presence of Mugabe in the party. For them, it did not matter that what was good for the party was not good for country because the two are not the same.
To prevent being devoured by this same Zanufication phenomenon in Lesotho, we need to ensure we limit our love for individual leaders and parties, and increase our love for Lesotho. This means we should only give our vote to those leaders and parties who always put Lesotho first.
l Non-elected functionaries being involved in executive decision making

Rumours abounded that Grace Mugabe was making executive decisions that should only have been made by the President. She is said for example to have had a hand in the dismissal from cabinet of Emmerson Mnangagwa. This was the trigger that unleashed the wrath of the Army against Mugabe.
Mugabe just should not have allowed his wife to get involved in such matters. A First Lady has no business making executive and other statutory appointments.
So, were this practice ever to rear its ugly head in Lesotho, it should be nipped in the bud immediately. Because this would be making a mockery of our democracy. In fact, this would constitute a direct attack on our constitution because someone we would not have elected, would be ruling us. Such nonsense must never be tolerated in Lesotho.
l Not having term limits –

Being President for 37 years is just wrong. Being Prime Minister for close to 15 years is just as bad. We have seen first-hand, the stagnation and instability that this caused in the country. People who should have been delivering services did not deliver services but jostled for power and positions because they got tired of waiting for their turn to come.

Those who failed to win the Prime Minister’s favour, broke away to form their own political parties. Such things caused us to lose focus and to engage in petty politics instead of working hard to build Lesotho.
Basotho should never again make the mistake of electing one Prime Minister for more than two terms. Two terms, then they must go home.
l Having a politicised security establishment

Only the naïve will not call what transpired in Zimbabwe these last few days a coup. The fact is, had the army stayed in the barracks like they are supposed to, Mugabe today would still be the President of Zimbabwe.
Or if you look at it from a different angle, Mugabe would have departed some nine years ago when he lost to the MDC. But because back then, he was still useful to the ruling elite, he was protected and kept in power even though Zimbabweans had booted him out.
The lesson for Lesotho here is very clear, we want a neutral, nonpartisan and professional army. Not the sort of army which in the past, showed similar tendencies as the Zimbabwe Defence Forces i.e. deciding who their Commander-in-Chief should be.

Therefore, rebuilding and reconfiguring the LDF should be a top priority for us during the reforms process. We don’t want elected leaders to ever again, flee from people whose role is to protect the constitution.
Mugabe is gone. And most Zimbabweans are delighted to see the back of him. His legacy has been shredded. That’s sadly the price leaders pay for lacking the wisdom to realise that they are not indispensable. No one is.
All it took in the end, was to be told by the Generals “Go home because you messed up. You brought your wife into the elitist club.”

Poloko Khabele

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