By Wisdom Mumera
Frail, fickle and faded at 93 and married to a wife who thinks calling a spear by its name is always a virtue, Mugabe is no longer the calculated and scientific politician he once used to be.
This reality has been a long time coming and apparent but the Mnangagwa case has heightened the glow of the fact.
He now openly grapples, literally and figuratively, with troublesome allies; dries undergarment issues in the public and appears powerless to bring some modicum of controlled aggression to his spouse who has been stirring things at a speed faster than natural political evolution will advise.
His hasty remedy for a wheezing economy is reshuffling the deadwood that has led the country into the cesspool whilst a succession issue has been allowed to lengthen out into a mazy drama of sexual innuendo, conspiracy theories and blunt bashings of political and social etiquette.
His disciples, intent to prop his faded glory, contend he is pulling strings Zen-like somewhere in the shadows but shadows are most likely to bring sleep than conspiratorial actions for the President today.
His aura of invincibility is now more a historical collection of tales than a present accumulation of such acts.
Most of what he is today is either of two, hyped creations and nostalgias by his fanatics, or the empty fawning of vultures angling for bites whilst holding calendars.
Structurally his subordinates have taken to fighting each other with increased spontaneity and recklessness which dissolves the argument of strategized planning or his being the hidden benefactor of the playing piper.
Though seemingly binary, G40 against Lacoste, the fights out-number his need or reach.
They have become wild lunges that have no controlled centre and whose very premise is built on scenarios where he is absent from power.
The factional fights are arising from the hypothesis of Mugabe being out of power and the accompanying need to fill his position. That makes Mugabe as much a debris in the current as he is part of the movement of that wave.
He may have leeway to control certain things, by virtue of his being at the centre, but the fight is larger than him and is for those looking at a post-Mugabe era.
The President is today the living-audience of his own legacy and wealth being fought over and it’s an unenviable position for someone whose fanatical disciples would argue needs to be bequeathed the utmost respect and dignity on his path to destiny.
It’s an angle to the current factional fights that should chill the President in his moments of solitude away from podiums and populist statements that ‘I’m not going anywhere’.
Not just the West and opposition are pushing for his removal but his own allies have openly taken to heckling each other over a position he still occupies in a not so subtle way that says ‘you may have over and out-stayed your heroism’.
A hero for too long will die a mortal man since being human is the natural part of our being. The President has tried to live and die a hero for too long but he has obviously run out of heroic acts.
Presently his leap at heroic acts has come across as stiff, stilted and outdated. He is a hero from another era, caught in the glare of a new paradigm and failing to shift feet quicker.
The land reform program in its execution was an 80’s revolutionary gimmick that fell flat as an argument for black empowerment in an era where empowerment can be done cleanly and smartly without stealing irrigation pipes and vandalizing private property.
Indigenisation under a steaming blanket of 51% ownership from the blue, coated with i-don’t-care attitude towards anyone against, is also not just Castroan but suffocates the self faster and first than it does the perceived enemies.
His approach to the friendship with the Chinese has been the hallmark signal of the President’s expired heroism.
Wartime attachments from the liberation struggle have cemented a warped belief that sentimental love exists in politics such that the squint-eyed have syphoned diamonds, dumped second-rate goods and pilfered out US dollars whilst we are made to think they are the only friends we have.
In the while, the Chinese have also built a burgeoning trade with the US, our life-long ‘enemy’, reaching billions of dollars and developing into a world power in generally the same time it has taken us to trash every other potential we have.
How the President and his advisors fail to correlate that piece of data into a wholesome picture of what 21st-century politics is like staggering.
As the figurehead, the President has made his party into a mobile but backwards-looking movement constantly hitting against walls in its quest to forge ahead by feeding old gripes.
The results have been mega-deals that are non-existent, parastatals that are walled by grass, corrupt allies reshuffled around, and nepotistic tendencies that build family dynasties and destroy the nation.
Like an old village grandfather of reputed power and ability, Mugabe still has a few tricks to play but even his own party has moved past him. That’s why they are fighting amongst themselves whilst he sits atop the great white chair unscathed and lavished with excessive praise.
To both sides, he is now the past.