Mugabe’s “Grace-ful” downfall

When independence was finally wrenched from Britain in April 1980, Zimbabwe was described as the “jewel of Africa” by Tanzania’s President Julius Nyerere. Thirty-seven years later, the country is in economic ruin.  Its 93-year old leader, Robert Mugabe, has been ousted by the military and is under house arrest after almost four decades of mostly despotic rule, supported, incidentally, by the very military that removed him from office.

Caribbean leaders fought for Zimbabwe’s independence, for one-man, one-vote and for an end to white minority rule in what was then Southern Rhodesia. The pantheon of Caribbean leaders included Guyana’s Forbes Burnham, Jamaica’s Michael Manley, Trinidad and Tobago’s Eric Williams, Bahamas’ Lynden Pindling, Barbados’ Errol Barrow and JMGM ‘Tom’ Adams.

At the centre of the wider Commonwealth struggle was another Caribbean crusader, the Guyana-born Secretary-General, Shridath Sonny Ramphal, who, as British writer Richard Bourne observed, “was emphatic that he wanted an end to racism in southern Africa under his watch”.  Caribbean leaders were midwives at the birth of Zimbabwe and god parents to the democratic election of Robert Mugabe as President.

Over the years, Caribbean leaders grew disappointed in Mugabe, even though they were sympathetic to his central plight which was the legacy of an untenable situation in which, through years of imposed white rule by Britain’s ‘kith and kin’, 90 per cent of the valuable land was owned by the minority white population.

Both Britain and the United States reneged on a promise to fund compulsory land purchases from the minority white population so that the majority black population could be empowered in their ancestral homeland. Unable to fund the compulsory acquisition of millions of acres of white-owned farms, Mugabe resorted to seizing them and to allowing lawlessness by his own supporters in land-grabs.  The economy, thereafter, went into steep decline, and with it went democracy and good governance.  Mugabe could only hold on to power for his ZANU-PF party and for him self by rigged elections and brutal repression of his opponents.

By the time that Caribbean nations joined other Commonwealth countries in a decision to suspend Zimbabwe from its councils in 2002 because of violations of Commonwealth democratic principles, they were highly frustrated with Mugabe’s unyielding intolerance of any form of dissent. Jamaica’s Prime Minister, PJ Patterson, was one of three Commonwealth Heads of Government, in December 2003, who tried to persuade Mugabe to accept Commonwealth help to address the political situation in Zimbabwe while the country remained suspended.   

Mugabe refused, choosing instead to withdraw from the Commonwealth. In the ensuing years, Caribbean countries could do nothing more than watch from the side-lines as Zimbabwe deteriorated. By the end of the last decade, only the support of the military kept Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party in office. That support dissipated on November 15 when General Constantino Chiwenga led what he insisted is not a coup d’état, but a ‘state of correction’.

Called by any name, Mugabe is being detained, many persons around him are arrested as ‘criminals’ without due process, and the military commands the country.The reason for the army’s separation from Mugabe came just days before Chiwenga took control of the country. Mugabe had fired his Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa for declaring his intention to run against Mugabe’s 52-year old, ambitious and combative wife, Grace, for the leadership of the party and eventually the Presidency.

In his dotage, the once politically astute Mugabe failed to take account of the fact that Mnangagwa was close to Chiwenga personally and the military generally. Grace became the catalyst for Mugabe’s downfall.  Labelled DisGrace or Gucci Grace on account of her widely-reported love of shopping and extravagant living, Grace enjoyed a meteoric rise through the ranks the ZANU-PF in the last two years, promoted by a besotted Mugabe who is 41 years her senior.

The old adage, ‘there’s no fool like an old fool’ came to pass. The prospect of her becoming President over Mnangagwa was too far a stretch for the Chiwenga and the military. Governments around the world have not condemned what is effectively a military coup. That is a measure of the relief felt by many at the toppling of Mugabe, who at the beginning, was a hero to Africa, although he was always disliked by Western governments.

Normally, condemnation would have been ringing around the world with demands for corrective action against “the state of correction”. The coup would have been called by its name and its perpetrators denounced. Not so with the Mugabe coup.

The US government said it “does not take sides in matters of internal Zimbabwean politics and calls for an expedient transition to democratic, civilian order”. The British Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, was equally not condemnatory, saying: “I hope that Zimbabwean politicians will take this opportunity, remembering that their country has so many strengths that even Mugabe has failed to tarnish it irreparably”.

In reality, Zimbabwe’s political and economic problems are most unlikely to improve with the ignominious end of Mugabe’s rule and the termination of Grace’s ambitions to replace him. The hope that the ‘path to legitimate government is now open’ or that there will be an ‘expedient transition to democratic, civilian order’ depends on a willingness by the leadership of the ZANU-PF party to accept that it is not entitled to rule Zimbabwe forever.

However, nothing in General Chiwenga’s past, or in the record of Emmerson Mnangagwa, suggests that they are willing to allow party political contention and free and fair general elections. Mnangagwa has returned to Zimbabwe from which he fled after Mugabe fired him.  So too has Morgan Tsvangirai, who arguably, won the 2008 Presidential election against Mugabe when Chiwenga intervened, insisting on a second round from which Mugabe was declared winner amid violence and brutality against Tsvangirai himself and thousands of his supporters.

But, Tsvangirai – even though he used to be supported by Western nations – now lacks the capacity to galvanize a united opposition. Those with a vested interest in Zimbabwe won’t back a horse likely to fail. The more likely scenario is that Mnangagwa, whose own record of brutality and violence is well known, will be named to take charge of the government until the ZANU-PF convention next month when he will become the party’s undisputed leader, and its candidate for the 2019 elections. Of course, he will retain the support of Chiwenga, and the military and the ZANU-PF will remain in control.

Mugabe’s autocratic rule may be over in Zimbabwe, but the country’s politics and economy remain deeply troubled. Caribbean peoples need look no further for good reason to ensure that democracy and the rule of law are respected and valued in their own societies.

Source: (Sir Ron Sanders is Antigua and Barbuda’s ambassador to the United States and the Organization of American States. The views expressed are his own. Responses and previous commentaries:

17 Responses to Mugabe’s “Grace-ful” downfall

  1. Tony Webster November 18, 2017 at 5:23 am

    The power of a woman! Love her…or fear her? Both?
    Zim…a very, very sad conundrum. Next up…”The Crocodile”. Phew!!

  2. seagul November 18, 2017 at 6:47 am

    The responsibility of the African as regards to national culture is also a responsibility with regard to African-Heritage culture.
    Every independent nation in Africa where colonialism is still entrenched is an encircled nation, a nation which is fragile and in permanent danger. Racial harmony can only come when there’s racial justice. Our people are not foolish, we don’t need magic we need truth. We don’t need deception we need truth. Those of you in power you know that you’re deceiving the black masses about the real facts in Zim. Fortunately, history is no longer just in the realm of one twisted perspective. There are many writers who love OBEs, it makes them feel like they have made it.The jewel crown and velvet gown with all the faithful servants gathered around. Spreading narratives and falsehoods of Africa…

  3. Jus me November 18, 2017 at 7:31 am

    @Tony Webster
    WHAT power?
    This guy barely can stand up himself let alone
    He doggy.
    He so old n putrid,eye so bad he ent know she got one, en if he does,could never see to find it!!

    Mgabe Stuart next to go.
    🙂 🙂 🙂

  4. Jus me November 18, 2017 at 7:38 am

    Southern Rhodesia!!
    Jewel of Africa??
    WHO was running it???

    Now called ZIMBABWE.
    S***e pit of Africa
    Black people in slavery
    WHO been running it??

    Now relate to Barbados.


    Strange similarity.

    Jambo Bwanna Sleepy Stuart

  5. seagul November 18, 2017 at 8:04 am

    Hundreds of thousands of Africans have drowned trying to cross the Mediterranean in overloaded and unseaworthy vessels. Most of the media remained silent for a very long period, years. Now that landlocked nation is fully shredding itself of the past wicked hateful exploiters that had thrust the name Rhodesia.
    But Africa will unite
    Cause we’re moving right out of Babylon
    And we’re going to our Father’s land..Consciously they know who is behind these internal struggles. One love…suncreed.

  6. Ralph W Talma November 18, 2017 at 8:27 am

    1. Power seems to corrupt most people, and all across Africa you can see it. I know, I have been there. I agree with the new Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia who is attempting to rid his country of corruption (but I do not agree with his actions in Yemen), and many other Countries could well find themselves implicated. We need a new breed of Politician/Leader, but, where are they?
    2. Could he same be said of some Islands of the WI? I wonder!

  7. MIIB November 18, 2017 at 8:31 am

    Guess my comment got jammed…..@ Jus me smh

    Any blackman that tells the white world no. He is victimised and killed. The sufferation happened just like that. The rapid inflation happened just like that. You say no they impose all different types of economic sanctions on you to bring the country to the knees. White people run the world. You get vex they kill you or put a black man to blow off your head. You want a list? Well past your sell by date, a hero that. Where will we find black people brave enough to tell the imperialist no? That was the last

    • Jennifer November 18, 2017 at 12:46 pm

      what you are saying will only stop by divine intervention. A lack of a conscience is a serious problem with these people as they will ever admit to any wrong or control or downtrodden of any other peoples. To understand all of this you will need to understand that the earth only started with light NO DARKNESS at all. After the fall of Adam to Lucifer darkness set in till this day and persecution too. Hence you got night and day, darkness and light, good and evil etc. To understand what I am saying will call for thinking and research. The sun and moon are actually DARK structures in our universe – look it up>>>>> giving light due to the emission of radiation. All dark humanoids EMIT light, the white reflects light or is technically dark matter. You are dealing with two very serious entities which CANNOT and will ever exist together. Don’t bother about faux getting along.

      • Jennifer November 18, 2017 at 12:48 pm

        correction – they will Never admit

        • Jennifer November 18, 2017 at 1:40 pm

          Correction – never exist together.

  8. Alex Alleyne November 18, 2017 at 8:41 am

    ROBERT you have made your mark , you removed the RACICT BRITISH and made some of your people free , but the chozen few have now been too comfortable and driven by the ‘arch-enemy’ is calling for your removal. It’s time to bow-out otherwise they will make sure you wind up in the “dungeon” they call Jail until you die.

  9. seagul November 18, 2017 at 9:20 am

    Bro Miib, Nelson Mandela, Malcolm x Bob Marley, Dr. Walter Rodney they all stated that any outspoken black man is going to be defined as a radical and victimized. We as a people must believe more in the value of education and economic empowerment. We must promote always a strong self-love and an economic base to combat this negativity. Black Pride does not mean you hate the other races—as many ignorant people falsely believe. Historical oppression has taken away from many the desired ability to love ourselves for who we are and we should not be apologetic in our love for all black people—no matter how that love is interpreted.

    • Jennifer November 18, 2017 at 1:16 pm

      Once you strip a people by separating them and removing their names, nationality, culture, god, language, etc and upload new inferior details you will automatically prevent regrouping, thereby making them weak and susceptible to become like sheep, docile and ignorant. Pride, harmony and self worth will be removed and self hate and divide automatically uploaded. So until the following is restored this people will continue to see major breakdown of black peoples all over the earth. When bob says in his redemption song “you got to fulfill the book”, what exactly did he mean?????? What book?????

  10. Othneal November 18, 2017 at 11:02 am

    I am surprised that any sane person could consider Mugabe as a well-intentioned and honourable man. He perfectly exemplifies a phenomenon commonly seen in so-called “freedom-fighters” whose avowed internation is to depose a despotic ruler to liberate the people.
    Mugabe was motivated, not by a desire to free his countrymen but by jealousy and a desire to succeed the oppressors. Having learnt well the art of oppression from the colonists, he practiced it well.
    Mugabe kept the support of the Party by allowing the excecces of the few, and by keeping the many in the grip of fear

  11. seagul November 18, 2017 at 11:43 am

    Bob Marley thought and proved he was an honorable man. We need to get off the white media band wagon and be critical thinkers like Malcolm and Marcus and ….

  12. Jennifer November 18, 2017 at 12:55 pm

    That cannot happen to this modern day people, any time a person stand up to highlight wickedness or injustice to this people , u will get another black person saying they are racist and looking for strive etc, why can’t you get along and the whole 9 yards, just like in the good old days. Them people got some well trained guard dogs>>>>>>>>>>Majority blacks.

  13. Jus me November 18, 2017 at 2:04 pm

    MIIB segul

    Where you at?
    Power Corrupts
    Absolute power Corrupts absolutely.
    Cos he black makes him.a saviour?
    Gimmee a brek.

    He just a Very Blackhearted black criminal politician.


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