Only Robert Mugabe the President of Zimbabwe for three decades can prove that, yes, you can have your cake and eat it at the same time. I mean literally and otherwise.
This past week as he celebrated his 85th Birthday with a nearly two hundred pound cake adorned with the number 85, his supporters force-marched and bused in as usual from all over the country, engaged in fist fights over the scarce scoops of sadza (thick porridge) and the boiled cabbages.
Soldiers and the police trying to cover up the embarrassing scene from Mugabe and his dignitaries had a tough time controlling the masses. The fights have become common at most state functions, a clear sign of the hard times that people have fallen unto. Unphased, Mugabe and his family went on to cut his cake and eat it in front of the 10 000 or so, who would cheer him on as expected.
The celebration itself was small in comparison to the lavish throw-down parties that Zanu PF usually put up for Mugabe yet another sing of the hard times. But couldn’t anyone stop the shameful binging considering the state of the Nation of Zimbabwe?
Apparently not, because when Mugabe throws a tantrum over not having what he is used to having, some heads would roll, French guillotine style. So about US$300 000 was gathered to please the “toddler” at his birthday, when the nation can not afford a medical kit to fight cholera that has ravished the country claiming more than 4000 lives and nearly a 100 000 people infected.
He is not used to being denied what he wants and he has run the country the same way for almost thirty years. That is why he is still president despite the fact that he lost the March election to the opposition, he couldn’t imagine himself not being president and his cahoots made sure he got what he wanted, this time with the help of the opposition of course thru the so-called Global Agreement to have the Government of National Unity. .
Almost a month after the swearing in of this two-headed donkey called the Government of National Unity, agreed upon by the ruling Zanu Pf Party and the two MDC factions, Zimbabwe still finds itself stuck in the mud that Mugabe created, mainly because he still runs stuff at Zimhouse.
Regardless of how much the Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai of the MDC- T faction, and Arthur Mutambara of the lesser MDC posture about in a bid to show off their newly minted authority in this GNU, let it be known, Mugabe and his cronies are still very much in control.
To Mugabe, nothing has changed, except that now he has turned 85 but age is just a number.
Political activists are still in prisons, ministries are still run by his chosen permanent secretaries, and the police still abduct people even prominent opposition members like Roy Bennett. The armed forces are still headed by the same generals who declared they will never ever salute Morgan Tsvangirai, Gideon Gono still presides over the National Bank that has overseen the unprecedented inflation in millions percentile, in the history of the civilized world.
Cholera, a relatively treatable disease has claimed more than 4000 lives and continues to stalk the countryside.
And Tsvangirai’s call for sanctions to be removed is sweet music to Mugabe’s ears. That is exactly how he envisioned the GNU working. The MDC sources the resources, and bust the sanctions but they get to spend the donations with him. Sort of a backdoor admittance of his failure and the need to have the MDC come to the rescue of Zimbabwe. When things get better he calls for elections, and the cycle of violence starts again. He wins and calls for another round of GNU.
Mugabe the Fidel Castro of Africa has emerged unscathed in all the farce about “Mugabe must go” chants, as he withered the Western world’s intent to oust him. SADC (The Southern African Development Community) literally was cowed by Mugabe as he again threw tantrums and ranted about neo-colonialism and lectured the African leaders on their lack of respect for what he personally sacrificed for the people of Zimbabwe and Africa in general. Again he persevered had his cake and ate it too. The SADC heads of state came out of every meeting more determined to let him have it his way, and his way is always to emerge on top not on the bottom.
If Mugabe can stubbornly cheat death as he has cheated defeat, he will still be president when elections are held maybe in 2011, and he will still celebrate with another cake adorned with 87 for his birthday. So much for an 85th old with a sweet tooth for birthday cakes and power.
PS: Kudos to Tsvangirai and Mutambara for not participating in the shameful Zanu Pf function (Mugabe’s birthday)
Note from the Author: I started wrting this before the sad news of Morgan Tsvangirai’s wife death in a car accident. So it might be untimely but again it is a timeless piece. I wish I had enough time to research on the many supposed enemies of Mugabe who perished through staged road accidents
Previous post: WhereCamp Africa: Mapping Africa