AFRICA is mourning the passing-on of its grand old grandpa of politics, one Robert Gabriel Mugabe. Mugabe died in Singapore at the ripe old age of 112, one of the oldest citizens of the world. Robert Mugabe apparently hated old age. And as he got increasingly older, he was always desperate to look younger. The British media is awash with all manner of stories about how he tried to get himself look younger. After all, he had married a wife 40 years his junior. So he would do anything from plastic surgery to botox. When all failed and the old codger realised he could never reverse nature, he simply commandeered staff at that country’s registry office (Ministry of Home Affairs) and ordered them to change his birth certificate and reduce his age by 17 years. So by the time he was 77, official records claimed he had only turned 60. By the time he died at age 112 last week, officials claimed he had died at only 95. Scrutator will never be embarrassed of her age. I will never do botox. I don’t even wear make up. Mine is a story for another day however.
I have watched, listened and heard all the epithets being used to describe Mugabe. He has been called the “great liberator”, “the world’s number 1 revolutionary”, “the hero of heroes”, “the ultimate icon”, “Father Zimbabwe and Father Africa”, “Son of the Soil” etc. All these misleading descriptions are quite understandable. In Africa, we are taught never to speak ill of the dead. But I totally disagree with that philosophy. Why should anybody become good only when they are dead? And why should we shy away from honesty reflections of any dead person’s legacy and deeds. So as far as Mugabe is concerned, allow me to call a spade a spade. I have had the privilege of visiting Zimbabwe many times and witnessed first hand what happens to a country when you leave a rogue in charge for a long time. Zimbabwe has also made me appreciate Lesotho as a viable democracy. I have berated our political class on many an occasion. But we Basotho must count ourselves lucky that we change our governments every two years. There is a distinct advantage of doing that. It ensures that impunity does not take root and excesses are promptly curbed. Tlali Kamoli’s reign of terror did not last because there was a change of government after a short two year span. Equally Ntate Holomo Molibeli’s current reign of terror against innocent civilians will not last because sooner or later, there will be a change of government and he will swap garbs with Kamoli. Yes, they say too many changes of government affect continuity and stability.
But please believe me, you don’t want to be ruled by the same person for 37 years as Mugabe did to Zimbabwe. I saw it first hand. Zimbabwe was literally raped by Mugabe. Imagine a people becoming so poor to the extent of recycling condoms. Zimbabweans have their Zimbabwe Defence Forces (LDF) to thank for finally toppling Mugabe in a widely supported military coup in November 2017. Unfortunately for them, it was already too late. The country had been raped beyond recovery. I don’t see it recovering for generations. It does not help that Mugabe’s successor after the coup, Emmerson Mnangagwa, is a carbon copy of his former boss. The only consolation for Zimbabweans though is that they no longer have to be ruled by Mugabe’s corpse. Remember what Grace Mugabe, the young concubine responsible for destroying the old man, used to promise. Apparently Grace Mugabe had become so obsessed with power that she used to tell Zimbabweans that Mugabe would rule forever. If he became crippled, he would rule from the wheelchair with the former garrulous First Lady of Zimbabwe vowing to carry his husband in the wheelchair to the office every day. If Mugabe died, Grace Mugabe vowed, he would rule from the grave. And Zimbabweans would have to line up to vote for his corpse. Zimbabweans can heave a sigh of relief. They don’t have to bow to Mugabe’s corps; thanks to General Constantino Chiwenga’s led military coup. Grace Mugabe did not only destroy Mugabe, she did not only destroy Zimbabwe, she destroyed herself in the process. That’s what happens when power enters a young woman’s head. She cost her husband support, she cost herself support as well. Should Scrutator ever become First Lady, the Grace Mugabe experience is a salutary lesson. Should any other sister become First Lady, Grace Mugabe’s conduct is never an example to emulate.
So as Mugabe is lowered for his remaining worthy cause to start fertilizing daffodils six feet or more under, Scrutator will remember him for what he was; a brute, cruel, uncaring, old cretinous creep who destroyed a once prosperous country. Mugabe is no liberator. He is no revolutionary. How does a liberator and revolutionary die in a Singapore hospital instead of a hospital at home? Imagine our former Prime Minister Ntate Mosisili dying in a hospital in Brunei, next to Malaysia, instead of dying at Tsepong, his own pet project? Mugabe died in hospital in Singapore because he destroyed his entire country’s health infrastructure. There are no panadols in Zimbabwean hospitals. Doctors pull down curtains for blankets. Mugabe destroyed everything in his way to preserve his power. He is not an example for anyone to emulate. Not only did he kill opponents in droves, he had no shame bashing even the official opposition leader. I lost all respect for Mugabe when he deployed his thugs to bash then main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai (May his soul rest in eternal peace).
There is only one lesson Lesotho, or the All Basotho Convention (ABC) in particular can learn from Mugabe. As his opponents led by Ntate Tsvangirai bickered about what to do after Mugabe stole presidential elections in 2002 and parliamentary elections in 2005, they ended up not seeing eye to eye. So divided did they become that the MDC split into two main factions, before they broke into more and more factions. The control of for the heart and soul of the MDC in Zimbabwe is a replica of our current war of attrition for the control of the ABC. But to their credit, the Zimbabwean opposition protagonists realised that the sooner they went their separate ways the better. The courts were never going to assist them much. After all, they were under Mugabe’s grip and clutches. Morgan Tsvangirai broke away and called his faction MDC-T (aka Movement for Democratic Change-Tsvangirai). Likewise, his opponent Arthur Mutambara called his faction MDC-M (aka Movement for Democratic Change-Mutambara). When Mutambara’s secretary-general Welshman Ncube led another split from MDC-M, it became called MDC-N (aka Movement for Democratic Change – Ncube). In my view, this was a novel way of handling splits and the ABC can learn a lesson or two from the Zimbabwe opposition experience. Judge Monapathi hopes his ruling will eventually bring sanity and end the feuding in the ABC. It won’t. From the look of things, the Mahao faction now appears to be in unassailable position after the temporary interdict Ntate Monapathi issued against the “expulsions” of Mahao and company by Ntate Motsoahae. To all intents and purposes, that order is going to be made final. Expecting Judge Monapathi to rule in favour of Ntate Motsoahae, after the former’s humiliation of him, when he unceremoniously ejected the ageing judge from the acting chief justice’s seat in favour of the then younger, pretty woman Nthomeng Majara, is like expecting a once off collision of Pluto, Jupiter, Moon and Earth. So it seems it’s Mahao in the driving seat. But still Ntate Motsoahae will have none of it. Witness the manner in which he refused to accept a copy of an order interdicting him from suspending our indigenous white man, court of appeal president Ntate Mosito. Ntate Thabane simply told the delivery boy to “take back your court order where you got it from”. The same fate will befall Judge Monapathi’s ruling. Not only will Ntate Motsoahae refuse to read it, he will refuse to honour it.
My suggestion to the ABC is simple. Please emulate the MDC experience. There is no chance of reconciliation of the factions. There is now no hope either faction will ever want to give up the use of the moniker ABC. So why not just have ABC-M (aka All Basotho Convention – Mahao) and ABC-T (aka All Basotho Convention – Thabane). This does not only rhyme well with Zimbabwe’s MDC-T and MDC-M, it is the best way to end the ABC’s war of attrition. There will be no confusion on the ballot boxes either, ABC-T will be juxtaposed with Thabane’s mugshot (head and shoulder picture) while ABC-M will be placed against Prof Mahao’s picture. The Zimbabwe situation teaches us that there is always a simple way of handling splits; just use the same party name with different suffixes and let the people decide. By the time of the 2008 elections, there were now about six splinter groups of the MDC, each with a different suffix to identify them. Each faction carried the picture of its leader on the ballot papers as its symbol. But when it came to the 2008 parliamentary and presidential elections, all these splinter factions were annihilated by Ntate Tsvangirai’s MDC-T. Even Mugabe was badly beaten by Tsvangirai. But electoral authorities claimed Tsvangirai’s victory was not good enough and he and Mugabe had to fight a run-off. In true style, Mugabe then went to bash Tsvangirai’s head once again. Not only that, Mugabe led his death squads in maiming and killing Tsvangirai’s aunts, uncles and nephews. When they were all finished, he then went to main Tsvangirai’s supporters in his village forcing the latter to pull out of the election run off “to save my people”. Tsvangirai was forced to flee to Botswana and Mugabe unashamedly declared himself the winner of the presidential run-off. That’s why I just don’t get it when people call Mugabe a “liberator and democrat”. He is not and was never one. His brutality gave birth to the MDC. And now, even though the MDC has never ruled because of the continuous theft of elections, it has bequeathed African parties with salutary lessons about how to manage splits. It is therefore simple, let’s just have ABC-M and ABC-T and let the electorate decide.