Mugabe has lost his aura

One element of post-colonial diplomacy is soft power, which media analyst, Alexander Rusero describes as the ability of a nation to get what it wants through attraction rather than coercion.

Source: Mugabe has lost his aura – NewsDay Zimbabwe February 2, 2017

Comment: NewsDay Editor

Rusero argues that soft power arises from the attractiveness of a country’s culture, political ideals, values and policies.

When a State’s policies are seen as legitimate by others, then its soft power is enhanced.

These past few days amply demonstrated how much Zimbabwe and President Robert Mugabe’s soft power has diminished, as the veteran leader returned from the African Union (AU) summit fuming at why Morocco had been readmitted into the continental body.

A yesteryear Mugabe, not tainted by his long stay in power and accusations of repression among others, would have employed his political beliefs and policies to convince his counterparts on the need to keep Morocco out.

Instead, Mugabe has lost his aura and the new crop of leaders no longer hold him in high esteem, but see him as a pale shadow of his former self.

Mugabe offers an unconvincing argument that Bostwana’s candidate for AU Commission chairperson lost because of that country’s leader’s lukewarm attitude towards the continental body.

How then does Mugabe explain that two Zimbabweans lost elections in spite of him attending almost every meeting of the continental body?

The simple answer is that Zimbabwe has long lost its soft power and nobody is buying the anti-West rhetoric he is so fond of.

It does not help either that Zimbabwe signs so many agreements with the AU, but is literally unwilling to put its money where its mouth is, as it emerged that the country is failing to honour its financial commitment to the African Risk Capacity (ARC).

Zimbabwe, like every country that is party to the ARC, is supposed to pay $500 000 annually to the fund, but has not been doing so since 2013.

The government cannot blame sanctions for this, as poorer countries like Malawi are meeting their obligations.

Why then should African leaders be convinced by a man who does not commit to what he has agreed to?

The nationalist anti-Western rhetoric once had an audience, but it does not have it now and with it Mugabe’s allure has gone.

Mugabe accuses his counterparts of lacking an ideology and being beholden to their former colonisers, another disingenuous argument, as these countries are simply looking after their interests and will not be swayed by an archaic and anachronistic anti-colonial message.

Mugabe once bestrode the continent like a colossus, but his charm has now shrunk and very few will care to listen to what he has to say, while Zimbabwe’s influence on the African agenda continues to diminish.


  • comment-avatar
    Diasporan 5 years ago

    What aura, most Zimbabweans think he is a thieving, murdering, oppressive despot dictator who is running a once wonderful country into the ground. the man should be put on trial at the Hague like fellow dictators Charles Taylor & Slobodan Milosevic.

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    nelson moyo 5 years ago

    Comrade His forever Excellency Robert Mugabe is on a par with Jesus as many ZANU PF people will tell you – forget about this aura bulldust comrades – our Robert is Jesus on earth and he will save us – Pamberi ne ZANU, pamberi ne jongwe

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    Morty Smith 5 years ago

    Mugabe still has massive soft power. It is just not the type of soft power that anybody would like to have. He epitomizes every negative perception there is about African leaders and then some.

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    It seems that his aura may have got – but his aroma is particularly bad after all the people he has murdered or caused to be murdered. The worrying part now is that Mugabe, Chinotimba, Mliswa and Trump all seem to have the same attitude towards people who happen to disagree with them? The Gukuruhundi has given Bob a bad aroma.