Cheated Zimbabweans can roar

African leaders' handbook.

African leaders' handbook.

The first and last code of the handbook is: Contrary to advice proffered by your closest advisers, God is still in His heaven. He has not gone on a long holiday to the Bahamas.

"Most importantly, He is still looking after His people, and God helps any mortal who believes they have been appointed to that job."

Many Zimbabweans have been agonising over the fact that recent shenanigans by their ruling party have highlighted the failure of African leadership.

Most are grievously hurt that their president is resorting to bizarre strategies to retain power, even after losing in a free and fair election supervised by people mostly appointed by him.

Some now contemplate a Charter for African Leadership or, in short, An African Leaders' Handbook.

Contributors to this vital document must exclude all who have overtly or covertly endorsed people who have been labelled dictators, not necessarily by their peers, but by their own people.

Seriously, moreover, in Zimbabwe there is huge disappointment with how SADC has handled the political goings-on since the March 29 elections. Most accept that holding four sets of elections simultaneously is an experience unknown since independence.

It was assumed that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) would study the probable hitches before advising the president they were ready for the big occasion.

The commission's head is a former military judge, but a judge nevertheless. This is regardless of the fact in the military judges have a code of conduct different from other judges in the civilian world.

For instance, a former chief justice, Enock Dumbutshena, would not have accepted that post. He was the first black chief justice of Zimbabwe, a distinguished "son of the soil".

Had it not been for the accident of birth, he might have become the first president of the Southern Rhodesia African National Congress, formed in 1957 and led by Joshua Nkomo.

There has always been speculation that Dumbutshena did not get that post because he came from the same province as the two other key leaders of the SRANC, George Nyandoro and James Chikerema, both from Mashonaland West.

Most Zimbabweans now accept that Robert Mugabe, also from Mash West, was the victim of an old terror inflicted on leaders all over the world: absolute power corrupts absolutely.

In 1987, Mugabe became executive president and the slide into dictatorship started.

John Emerich Dalberg Acton was credited with that famous phrase, although, not always included is this rider: "Great men are almost always bad men."

Pitt the Younger, prime minister of Britain between 1766 and 1778, had said: "Unlimited power is apt to corrupt the minds of those who possess it."

Mugabe was executive president for 21 years, the absolute ruler of Zimbabwe - until March 29. If he and the armed people who apparently surround him and are urging him to resist all attempts to dislodge him legally, rob the majority of their right to change their rulers, the consequences could be entirely unpredictable.

The reputation of Zimbabweans as being lily-livered has been proved time and again to be false. Pushed against the wall, they too can turn into the mouse that roared.

Bill Saidi is deputy editor at The Standard in Zimbabwe.