Lessons to be learnt from the blunders of Bush and others

George Bush has now become the lamest duck president in US history.

George Bush has now become the lamest duck president in US history.

He will be out of office by January, having completed two disastrous terms and chalked up a record as the most unpopular sitting president for a long time.

His failure to have the US congress approve his US$700billion bail-out of Wall Street's snafu (situation normal: all fouled up), has little to do with that, say most analysts.

They say its seed is his worst political blunder - the invasion of Iraq. He accused Saddam Hussein of hiding weapons of mass destruction. But after the massive destruction of life and property and Hussein's execution, no weapons have been found.

He lied.

Bush appealed passionately for the bail-out to be sourced from taxpayers, who have not forgotten his Big Lie. Wasn't it a great American who laid down, succinctly, a gem of a political lesson?

Bush's apologists trotted out one reason for the reluctance of Democratic and Republican lawmakers to approve the bail-out: the obscene rewards of chief executives accused of fleecing ordinary people.

A decision hinged, in the end, on how far they could trust Bush. There is a great lesson here for Robert Mugabe, whose record of mendacity is just as notorious. An additional lesson must include the perils of hanging on to power - nearly 30 years, in Mugabe's case.

At 84 he may have little to look forward to except a decent burial, either in Kutama village, or at Heroes Acre.

Some would be outraged at his burial on The Acre. But the argument could be knocked down by the fact that not many interred in that supposedly hallowed ground have any right to be there either. So, what difference would one more "misfit" make?

Two people, who recently met in Libya to sign a deal dating back to Italy's bloody occupation of that African country, might provide future lessons for African leaders who believe permanent power is their destiny until they drop dead.

Muammar Gaddafi and Italy's Silvio Berlusconi met to sign a deal in which Italy will give Libya billions in compensation for its cruel occupation and exploitation.

Berlusconi is as avaricious a politician as you are likely to find anywhere in the world. He owns all but two of the seven TV networks in Italy and newspapers.

He has survived attempts to charge him with corruption, apart from accusations of vindictiveness against political opponents. Yet he remains popular as the leader of a key member of the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

Gaddafi has reinvented himself, from the insanely anti-Western fanatic to a smiling Islamic leader who dines and wines US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice.

He has been in power since 1969 after overthrowing the monarchy. His volte-face on the West took many former allies by surprise. What does he have up his sleeve - an ace or AK-47?

There are vital lessons to be gleaned from these two leaders' eventual exit from power, and in Mugabe's too, one being why hanging on to power can be costly. There have been many examples, yet politicians seem to enjoy lessons spiced with death - Mobutu, Kabila, Siad Barre, Nguema, Bokassa, Idi Amin, Hitler and Mussolini.

l The writer is deputy editor of The Standard in Zimbabwe.