What is Africa’s problem? Once upon a time a young African liberator of the 20th Century grappled with this burning question and after much soul-searching he came up with an answer.
By Harold Acemah
On August 3, all hell broke loose in Harare, capital of Zimbabwe which increasingly looks like a country under siege and on the eve of a political tsunami.
One month ago, the long-simmering anger, bitterness and frustration of Zimbabweans finally boiled over into the streets of Harare and despite stern warnings by president Robert Mugabe that opposition to his illegitimate, desperate and unpopular regime would be mercilessly crushed, wananchi decided to call Mugabe’s bluff and poured out in thousands to defy the physically, mentally and morally challenged leader.
The protesters shouted “Mugabe Must Go” and all manner of unspeakable adjectives about the old warrior in broad daylight. In a nutshell, wananchi told comrade Mugabe that enough is enough and that his days are over! Poor Mugabe increasingly barks like a toothless bulldog whose voice scares nobody.
According to a Daily Monitor story of August 4 titled, “Zimbabwe police break up anti-Mugabe protest” Zimbabwe’s ruthless riot police which behaves like a police force in our neck of the woods, used batons, tear gas and water cannon to break up a legitimate protest by hundreds of law-abiding citizens in Harare in opposition to the gross misrule of 92-year-old Mugabe.
Thousands of Zimbabwean patriots came out to vent their anger and frustration at the untenable economic, social and political situation in this once promising and prosperous country. The government of Zimbabwe is now flat broke and unable to pay civil servants, police officers and soldiers! No wonder the veterans of Zimbabwe’s liberation war who have for decades been among Mugabe’s most loyal supporters recently denounced him as an extravagant and selfish dictator.
Some demonstrators were adorned with Zimbabwe’s national flag, while hundreds of unemployed university graduates wore their academic gowns and believers carried the cross of Jesus Christ and sang hymns of praise to God for whom all things are possible, including putting an end to the untold suffering of His people in Africa.
Zimbabwe: An African tragedy
For a country which was once the bread basket of southern Africa and for a leader who was once admired, hailed and respected as the quintessential African liberator and orator par excellence, the fall from grace of Mugabe is an African tragedy of monumental proportions!
Anyone who has visited Zimbabwe, especially during 1980s, will appreciate the depth of the anger and bitterness of the demonstrators.
I was in Harare in 1986 to attend a non-aligned conference hosted by a prosperous and peaceful Zimbabwe and stayed at the Sheraton Hotel. I took time to visit parts of the country, including the breath-taking Victoria Falls on river Zambezi and like Sir Winston Churchill after his visit to Uganda in 1907, can say that Zimbabwe was the pearl of southern Africa.
I attended an agricultural show in Harare and have not seen better breed of cattle, pigs and goats; better crops and produce than what I saw in Zimbabwe. Ms Margaret Muhanga, the goat merchant, could make trillions of shillings if she traded in the 1980s breed of Zimbabwean goats, enough funds to buy the entire UBC outfit, land inclusive!
To imagine that a worthless bunch of so-called liberators desecrated and recklessly ruined such a fantastic economy in a matter two decades is outrageous and unacceptable! The boss of the gang of thieves arrogantly insists that he is going nowhere until the good Lord decides to summon him to face divine justice.
As a former seminarian, I am sure comrade Robert Mugabe knows something about what the Holy Scripture calls “the wages of sin!” What he has done to the great and good people of Zimbabwe is the moral equivalent of blasphemy!
The rise and fall of Mugabe is the story of many African dictators who start as heroes and steadily degenerate into despicable villains whose hands are soiled with blood of their fellow citizens. It is the story of Hastings Banda, Mobutu Sese Seko, Siad Barre, Idi Amin, Bokassa, Macias Nguema, Sani Abacha, Samuel Doe and Muammar Gaddafi. By the time these tyrants were removed, they were detested and despised in equal measure!
The message which Zimbabweans have courageously and eloquently delivered to Mugabe is applicable to shameless African tyrants such as, Yahya Jammeh of Gambia, Teodoro Nguema of Equatorial Guinea, Omar Bashir of Sudan and others whom you know by their deeds! Like Mugabe, the days of these enemies of the African revolution are numbered!
Mugabe has clearly reached the end of the road.
His best bet is to resign now and spend the rest of his days peacefully with his family at his exclusive farm, but if he unwisely decides to cling on to power, he may not have pleasure of spending the evening of his life in peace like the esteemed and respected Mwalimu Julius Nyerere and Nelson Mandela. It is not too late for him to do the right thing.
What is Africa’s problem? Once upon a time a young African liberator of the 20th Century grappled with this burning question and after much soul-searching he came up with an answer which he shared with African presidents and ministers at an OAU summit in Addis Ababa.
He said: “Africa’s problem is leaders who overstay in power!”
He was applauded and accorded a standing ovation and all believed that he would set a good example and practise what he loudly and arrogantly preached everywhere during the 1980s and 1990s! Well, his record is out there in the public domain for all to see and to critically evaluate. One hopes that he did not deliberately and cynically take African leaders and wananchi for a ride!
Mugabe must indeed go and make way for a new beginning for Zimbabwe. He has no other choice. Aluta continua!
Mr Acemah is a political scientist, consultant and a retired Ugandan career diplomat. firstname.lastname@example.org. This article was originally published in the Daily Monitor (Uganda)