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Mugabe's pretend world could end in disaster

By unknown | Apr 25, 2008 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

An old song has the following lines:

But if you sing this melody

You'll be pretending just like me

The world is mine,

It can be yours, my friend

So why don't you pretend?

This is not meant to be a disrespectful dig at President Robert Mugabe who turned 84 last February.

It is accepted that as the body and mind age, certain faculties lose their sharpness, the capacity to distinguish between the real and unreal.

This is not to say Mugabe is edging towards that state of "unknowingness" that terrorised Tunisia's Habib Bourgiba during the last days of his long rule, culminating in a coup that ended with his being sent to "the loony bin".

There are Zimbabweans who sympathise with Mugabe's predicament. Is there anybody around him honest enough to let him into the great secret that the people have rejected him?

Or is he himself alert enough to recognise the end of the road, but in such a state of denial that he has willed himself into a "pretend world": still the great liberator?

A former close comrade-in-arms of his said recently there were rumours of senility taking its toll. He doubted Mugabe was alert enough to recognise that a man whose physiognomy had been the butt of his jokes had replaced him as the country's most popular leader.

Were the situation not so pregnant with tragedy it would qualify as a soap opera. But the reality is that millions of lives could be at stake.

A black-and-white interpretation of the events includes the fact that millions believed they were in an election that had the elements of a free and fair plebiscite.

Later, when the figures were in, they discovered their opponents had other, sinister ideas: they refuse to accept defeat.

Thabo Mbeki says it is only the people of Zimbabwe who can determine their destiny. In that case what is his role? In fact, why is the SADC involved?

If they all believe only the people of Zimbabwe can determine their destiny, why did they butt in in the first place?

The logic of the SADC's involvement was to ensure there was dialogue, a smooth transition. The SADC appears to have hardened its stance against Mugabe, but apparently not enough.

Certainly, the robust reactionto the Chinese ship carrying arms for the regime has been lauded as a long overdue response to the impunity with which Mugabe and Zanu-PF have run the country.

With or without Mbeki at the helm of the mediation comic opera, the SADC will have to bite the bullet to avoid a conflagration. Mugabe and his soldiers must be told it is time to save Zimbabwe from bloodshed.

It is not improbable that Mugabe has been convinced by the soldiers that he can hang on until everybody gives up and then they can continue where they left off - the lootocracy they have been accused of.

The price could be very high. The "pretend world" could end in disaster.

l Bill Saidi is deputy editor of The Standard in Zimbabwe.


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