Mugabe Lives On: The Entrenchment of the culture and methods of Mugabe-ism in Zimbabwean politics.

Like Aime Cesaire’s thoughts of Hitler in relation to the Negros in America. In Zimbabwe, when I hear that More-Blessing Ali has been killed because of her support of the opposition, I think of Itai Dzamara and say that we have been lied to: Mugabe is not dead. When I hear that Hon. Takudzwa Ngadziore has been abducted, tortured, and injected with unknown substances, I think of Tonderai Ndira and say that we have been lied to: Mugabe is not dead. When I hear that Hon. Joanah Mamombe has been victimised by men with guns at her residence because of an aggressive encounter with a member of the first family in Parliament, I think of Hon. Margaret Dongo and say that we have been lied to: Mugabe is not dead. When I hear that students are being arrested, abducted, and beaten because they are fighting for academic freedom and speaking against injustices, I think of Batanai Hadzizi and the October 2004 generation, and I say that we have been lied to. Mugabe is not dead. When I hear about the Gold Mafia, I think of the Willowgate Scandal, and I say we have been lied to: Mugabe is not dead.

Mugabe lives on. Mugabe is not dead; he is undoubtedly living in the spirit, minds, hearts, and souls of many Zimbabweans. The doctrine and the idea of Mugabeism, which is an ideology anchored on brutality, coercion, corruption, populist propaganda, and empty Pan-Africanist rhetoric, have managed, in their entirety, to outlive the person Robert Mugabe himself. It is an idea that does not appreciate the principles of democracy, constitutionalism, and the rule of law but is coupled with charisma and good flowery language. The culture of Mugabe is known for the use of terror, error, and the harvest of fear to advance his interests and protect his power.

Someone who died before and months after independence would not be able to believe, appreciate, and accept the above-mentioned meaning of Mugabeism, but this only extremely and profoundly registers with the thoughts of Abraham Lincoln when he observed that nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him powerPower was given to Mugabe with all the brilliant ideas and ideological background of socialism, but he was drunk, corrupted, and abused by it to the extent of losing himself. Power without principles and reason, which are the foundation of moral judgement, is counter-revolutionary, especially when given to a man with delusions of grandeur. Before independence, Robert Mugabe played a major role in ushering independence to Zimbabwe through a big compromise at Lancaster House. He was a well-spoken and celebrated revolutionary.

After the Lancaster House, power was transferred from white elites to black elites (ZANU PF leadership). This gave the then-comrades a feeling of entitlement to the country and its resources. This idea was then given life when Mugabe later started to advocate for a one-party state, changing, metaphorically, Zimbabwe to a ZANU PF capitalist company. On a broader canvas, the historical context of the reign of Robert Mugabe is clouded with a culture developed by successive actions and policies of the ZANU PF that shaped a political disposition of tribalism, corruption, incompetence, insensitivity, and lawlessness.

The ouster of Robert Mugabe through a military coup in 2017 gave new hopes and aspirations to the citizens of Zimbabwe, though it came with complexes of military-party-state conflation. There was a big debate around whether it was a new dispensation in terms of modus operandi or just a change of the face without real systematic and ideological change, but time was patient enough and extremely excited to give Zimbabweans an answer. The culture of empty populist rhetoric was rejuvenated when Mnangagwa promised a free, credible election and assured the people that if he lost, he would happily leave power. Under the pseudo-theme, the voice of the people is the voice of the Lord.

Demonstrations against the handling of elections emerged, and the army was deployed to beat up people and kill six people on the day. This was typical of Mugabe, who used the military to cling to power when threats were posed to his presidency. This manifested when he used the Fifth Brigade to thwart opposition from ZAPU. Mugabe used elimination before and after independence as a way to deal with a threat to his presidency. After his ouster, the idea lives; almost all the generals who were at the forefront of executing the coup are dead.

Mugabe invested in promoting more loyalists and family members into strategic positions of influence. We saw his wife Grace Mugabe beginning to make decisions on behalf of the party ZANU PF and the country at large in firing Mai Mujuru and ED Mnangagwa as vice presidents. Mnangagwa has been promoting his family and friends, the de facto Minister and de jure Deputy Minister of Finance David Mnangagwa, the incoming governor, his friend John Mushayavanhu, and the Rushwayas.

Opposition members are still being harassed. Corruption is deepening, nepotism is becoming the order of the day, and one-party state agendas are still being advanced, but now, with the use of the judiciary system, sanctions rhetoric is still being used as a scapegoat for corruption and regression of service and delivery. Everyone is still the enemy of the government, the international community, the students, the church, the civil society, the artists, and the citizens in general. Phoney Pan-Africanist rhetorics are still being advanced, but thanks to Mnangagwa for developing neo-Mugabeism, which is characterised by the disproportionate use of state resources to bribe anyone at any cost, the use of influencers and popular artists to advance the values of Mugabeism, and more use of propaganda than force to achieve his goals as copied and enhanced from the script of Mugabe.

What has to be done?

When a leader reigns longer than expected, most of the time, his character gradually penetrates society and becomes the order of the day. The values of Ubuntu, togetherness, and humanity have escaped not only the Zimbabwean political divide but the society of Zimbabwe as a whole. Most Zimbabweans are against ZANU PF but are a microcosm of what defines what they despise. Almost all Zimbabweans subscribe to the premise that every man is for himself and God is for us all. The society has been self-centred and perpetuated the idea of sailing through by hook or crook centrally for self-satisfaction, not for the community or the whole society at large.

Dear comrades, we should now choose whether to be part of the solution or part of the problem. There is a need for a cultural revolution, and this requires, first and foremost, regime change because the fish rots from the head. Mugabe left a system that he inherited from Ian Smith and enhanced that attached the people of Zimbabwe to perpetual ignorance, oppression, and exploitation. The alternative regime should, at the very least, be unapologetic and brutal in crushing and dealing with old values, old culture, old habits, and old ideas. It will not be easy to ouster the neo-Mugabe regime of the ZANU PF, but we have to choose either to negotiate with the oppressor or radicalise our way to freedom. We should build strong opposition forces with craft competence and craft literacy and the ability to get rid of the military, state, and ZANU PF. But the alternative must be careful because, in the fight for freedom, they might run the risk of constructing what they are trying to deconstruct and making what they are trying to unmake.

Decolonization and detribalization of our education are important structures towards the withering away of the culture of Mugabeism. Our education is not focused on building a nation; it has been one of the patrons of the division of our society and continues to push the Mugabe effect of tribalism. In primary education, our history and curriculum are biassed towards a certain tribe and political party in what they call patriotic history. The alternative, when given power, should make sure that we are the tale-tellers of our own history and authors of our destiny, not perpetuating colonial and imperial agendas embedded in our education.

There is a need for reconciliation in Zimbabwe; society is greatly divided either on tribal lines or political inclinations. There is a need to champion what Frantz Fanon calls anti-colonial consciousness because the problem does not come solely from the behaviour and character of Robert Mugabe but is an idea of our ex-colonisers to entrench division and set a stage for former colonies to switch from a nation to ethnic groups and from a state to tribal compartments. Regime change should produce Truth, Reconciliation, and Justice processes to look back at past atrocities, war crimes, and political genocides so that the country can heal the wounds of many victims and move forward in harmony.

Comrades, the road is long but worthy enough to keep fighting.

In the quest to add ideation to the militancy of comrades, writes:

Munashe Masiyiwa

2 Comments on “Mugabe Lives On: The Entrenchment of the culture and methods of Mugabe-ism in Zimbabwean politics.

  1. What an avid student of history! Great read yet also raising a few eyebrows on the what should be done part otherwise good job!

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