via Analysis: Juju using Bob’s dynasty doome – NewZimbabwe 20/07/2015 by Jan Raath
TO many Zimbabweans, the source of the power and fear that President Robert Mugabe wields over the nation is ju-ju.
A recent picture shows him in a line-up of southern African leaders. He is the anthracite-black figure in the centre, his head and body so much smaller than his colleagues’ that he looks like a doll. Or a tokoloshe, the malevolent goblin of African nightmares.
He is now in his 92nd year and has vowed that only death will end his rule. The faithful of his party, Zanu PF, insist he will serve out both of the terms of office he secured in 2013, which will take him to the age of 99. A slogan urges “Bob 99”.
Of course, he is just ordinarily old. He regularly falls asleep in public. There is a loose flap of skin under his chin. His hair is receding, though he is vain enough to dye it.
But he is firmly in control. He still provokes trembling among his closest disciples, who kneel before him or slap their thighs in feigned hilarity at his jokes. He still manipulates, always a jump ahead. Key to this power is his refusal to anoint a successor. It drives them to fawn harder.
He has seized with vigour his new role as chairman of the African Union, which allows him to travel as never before. It means the dire state of Zimbabwe’s economy gets even less attention than ever.
A friend of mine plays “spot-the-crop” with her driver when she travels through the countryside. Kilometre after kilometre of land that was once farmed has reverted to bush.
Except for the neat fields of New Donnington Farm, an expansive model estate with expensive agricultural machinery and a large house, on the road to Bulawayo. The owner is Gideon Gono, former governor of the central bank, who printed vast quantities of worthless Zimbabwe dollars until 2009 and effectively crashed the economy.
And except for the staggering glass-domed palace — worth an estimated $6.7 million — in Gletwyn, a suburb of Harare, which is owned by Augustine Chihuri, the commissioner of police.
In urban areas the frequent power cuts and soaring cost of machinery are forcing businesses to shut at a desperate rate. The result is the 20,000 unemployed occupying most of the pavements in Harare’s city centre, selling everything from barbering equipment to hot breakfasts.
Everywhere you look there is a weariness with the struggle to survive and a longing for change — or a simple wish to cross the Limpopo River into South Africa as four million Zimbabweans have already done. The man responsible for the ruin of the nation shows no hint of answering its prayers and still blames the West for its problems.
Also biding their time is a small select group of contenders for Mugabe’s throne. In typical African custom, the leader’s death can be expected to be kept secret for several days. Then the announcement, followed by a grandiose hero’s burial. The contenders have been locked in a struggle for ascendancy for at least two decades.
Zanu PF is effectively the only political party in the country, the once-inspiring MDC having shattered into seven parts at the last count. Mugabe’s party will have 100 days in which to choose its next leader, in an elective congress. The military — which Mugabe turned into a party organ almost immediately after independence in 1980 — will be there to ensure that their man gets the job.
That candidate, it is widely agreed, is Emmerson Mnangagwa, the Vice-President.
A radical activist in his mid-teens, he has been at Mugabe’s side since 1976 and has a disturbing record. He was at the centre of the military pogroms in Matabeleland in the 1980s during which nearly 20,000 civilians were murdered. He was also closely involved in all the elections since 2000 that secured Mugabe victory, mostly through murder and terror.
But he is a very different person from the “liberation hero” cult figure of Mugabe. A businessman, it is expected that he would take a very different view.
“We have to look at how we can attract a flow of capital,” he said in an interview this month. “Capital is capital, it will go where it finds comfort.” A President Mnangagwa would not embrace democracy. But this is Africa, and you can’t have everything.
Speaking of capital, two weeks ago, Hendrik Olivier, director of Zimbabwe’s predominantly white Commercial Farmers Union, came to Mnangagwa’s office for an appointment over the harassment his members were experiencing. He was stunned to be asked by an aide for “a brown envelope with $500 to secure the meeting.
He refused. He waited to be admitted, but gave up after three hours. He later suggested it was a private scam run by the aide. It’s a reckless person who would openly feather his nest in the office of the man known as “Ngwena”, the crocodile.
And Mugabe’s ambitious wife, Grace? She and her daughter Bona should move into the first family’s $1.3m apartment in Hong Kong. For their own safety.
The whole laboriously constructed succession scheme, however, could be blown away in hours. The day Mugabe dies, the entire nation may well be enveloped in an explosion of jubilation.
This article is taken from the Australian