Blame Mengistu Haile Mariam for Mugabe’s downfall

22nd November 2017
ERNESTO'S BRIEFS
Column

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By Ernest Moloi -


You can fool some people some time, but you can’t fool all the people all the time, says the Caribbean singing duo of Bob and Peter. They say, the harder they come, the harder they fall, and indeed Robert Mugabe’s downfall in Zimbabwe is a painful lesson for Africa’s liberation heroes and a textbook guide for dictators and tyrants! They fight gallantly and valiantly to achieve independence from the colonisers but then turn around to trample on their people’s freedoms and liberties and become a curse, an abomination as they carry unparalleled atrocities on their kith and kin. Mugabe planted that seed when he fell out of favour with the West at around the time Nelson Mandela was released from prison. Against Mandela’s 27 years prison incarceration, Mugabe’s liberation credentials, notwithstanding that he founded ZANU – lost their lustre and allure.

It was also around the same time that Mengistu Haile Mariam - an Ethiopian fugitive, Marxist pretender, notorious for the Red Terror campaign that had decimated hundreds of thousands in Ethiopia and displaced many others in the aftermath of Emperor Haile Selassie I’s fall - took refuge in Zimbabwe at Mugabe’s behest. Matters took a turn for the worst when under Mandela’s chairmanship of SADC Mugabe was elected the founding chairman of the Organ on Defense, Politics and Security here in Gaborone at the newly-opened offices of Botswana National Productivity Centre (BNPC).

Yours truly was there and asked why for God’s sake our regional leaders would entrust such a noble arm of the regional economic bloc, which among other things, envisaged the protection of citizens’ human rights, with a man who had the audacity to consort with bloodhounds like Mengistu Haile Mariam that was wanted in his home country for crimes against humanity! Our counsel was ignored, after all, what do we know?

We are just mere reporters! But we warned the leaders then, that birds of a feather flock together! Mugabe would later, against popular advice, unilaterally deploy a so-called SADC Interventionist Force made up of Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibian troops in the war in DRC where President Laurent Kabila was trying to fend off rebel forces aided and abetted by Rwanda and Uganda. This marked the beginning of the collapse of Zimbabwe’s economy as funds from the national treasury had to be diverted to maintain the soldiers in DRC.

As a token of appreciation for their gesture, Kabila also pledged some mines in Africa’s richest country by mineral endowment, to Mugabe and his army generals. Axiomatically, the army generals and war vets felt indebted to Mugabe and pledged to defend him to the end. We saw that happen during the disastrous land reclamation exercise and later when MDC’s Morgan Tsvangarai was robbed of his electoral victory with the subsequent installation of a Government of National Unity. Then followed a campaign of terror and violence (akin to Mengistus’s Red Terror) visited on the electorate, especially from the opposition ranks by bandits calling themselves ‘War Vets’ that were certainly sanctioned by ZANU (PF).

This poisoned atmosphere metamorphosed into corruption and fragmentation of opposition and civil society organisations, human rights abuses, runaway inflation, food shortages and Zimbabwean economic refugees, some of who bore the brunt of xenophobia in host countries. The only saving grace for the country came via ZANU internal bickering over Mugabe’s successor, and was inflamed by factionalist tendencies, which, with the benefit of hindsight, became the proverbial last straw that broke the camel’s back.

Mugabe forsook the army generals personified by Vice President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa and against all odds (probably advised by Mengistu) joined forces with his wife, Grace to push the army generals’ choice of successor out! In short, Mugabe made his bed and must now lie on it. As for the recall from the party presidency and impeachment by Parliament from the state presidency, all these are tricks by the army to sanitise the coup and assuage the International Community, SADC and African Union who hold military takeovers of government in absolute contempt. We can rest assured, that Mugabe is a victim of his own folly.




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