THE OBSERVER: Khama is right; Robert Mugabe must pack and go

SHARE   |   Monday, 03 October 2016   |   By Simon Gabathuse
THE OBSERVER: Khama is right; Robert Mugabe must pack and go

The way Robert Mugabe has angrily reacted to the suggestion by President Ian Khama that leading the people, a state for more than 10 years has amused me. I am from a country that has deliberately enshrined in its constitution that no one shall be Head of State for more than 10 years. I am proud for this constitutional amendment which ensures that we have different choices of leadership every 10 years. We are lucky not to be led by Robert Mugabe. No matter how much he might want to throw words around. He can ridicule as much as he wants. But we must all be happy, as a nation of Botswana, as we celebrate our 50th anniversary that we are not led by a power hungry senile person. As Bob Scott says in his book; Saving Zimbabwe (Life, death and hope in Africa) that Robert Mugabe’s dream of a new world quickly changed into a nightmare the day he assumed office after his ego wounding battles with the British, Cecil John Rhodes supporters, the South Africa’s National Party and Joshua Nkomo; that is the absolute truth. Once heralded as a champion of the anti-colonial movement, Mugabe is now viewed by most of the international community, as a despotic ruler responsible for egregious human rights abuses and for running the economy of his country into the ground. He is too old to make sense. He has been in power since 1980 and there is nothing to show for it except taking down the economy of Zimbabwe. He is the world’s oldest ruler and certainly the worst. Yet in all these he wants the world not to see or say anything about it. I am glad that President Khama has come out in the open about this matter when the whole of the SADC region wants to play nice and laugh at Robert Mugabe’s filthy and unsavoury jokes.

What happened and where did things go wrong? These are questions that not only Bob Scott seeks answers to, but the whole world, including us direct Zimbabwean neighbours, herein the Republic of Botswana. Robert Mugabe like so many others like him started off with noble but naïve aspirations.  An extremely intelligent man, he underestimated as we all do, the wickedness that lies inside the human heart, including his own. The African Union has also decided not to see these atrocities. But we in Botswana see them. And we have been polite enough to blame them on his old age and long-time rule. Yet we know the truth. Some have argued that President Khama has said the right thing at a wrong time. They have argued that saying these things at a time when our Minister of Foreign Affairs and international Cooperation is contesting for the African Union chairpersonship seat will harm our campaign for the post. I can only hope that we are not allowed a vote we deserve simply because we have opted to say the truth. We can’t just watch and be silent on the notion of quiet diplomacy when our neighbours are being terrorised. In fact, President Khama must reiterate this position, the position of the Republic of Botswana – that it is time Robert Mugabe vacates office.

When one is suddenly handed the reins of a whole nation and given such power and authority, it is too intoxicating to handle. Men change. Brilliant men become stupid empty hallows. History testifies that when leaders gain power with bitterness, resentment and unresolved conflict in their souls, they become destructive. Revenge becomes their obsession at the cost of everything else. As Bob Scott has observed, Robert Mugabe fell prey to what was hidden in his heart. The truth always has a way of coming out into the light and revealing itself. Robert Mugabe was in fact ‘the emperor with no clothes’.  He has to be told this and if we in the Republic of Botswana who are experiencing these pains don’t talk about his ills then no one else will. Our prisons are full of Zimbabweans who have run away from their homes and in their quest to remain alive they are committing the most horrendous of crimes in Botswana. They are killing us, raping our sisters, and stealing our livestock. They are faking degrees to get jobs. They have the most appalling attitudes and characters. But then why are they this way, what brought them to this sad state of humanity. We spend millions of Pula that we should be using to build ourselves hospitals, roads, clinics etcetera to deport them. They are not the problem; Robert Mugabe is the problem. And who is to blame? It is surely Robert Mugabe. We in the Republic of Botswana must continue to say this painful truth.

When one has power, especially when such power was attained through the dubious sacrifices of one’s people; as Robert Mugabe murdered his own people to justify his ‘power and authority’, it unfetters the greed and lust hidden in one’s soul. Like Robert Mugabe, you lavish yourself with a massive new palace and bulldoze thousands of people’s homes that you put up there to ‘clean up’ the neighbourhood. Once you have power, you become paranoid about losing it. The mentioning of elections scares you to madness. In order to preserve your power, you gather around your family and friends that you trust and put them in key positions in your government. Assuming that which Robert Mugabe is at the helm of can qualify to be regarded as a government. In order to maintain their loyalty, you grant them special privileges and wealth which in turn corrupts them to a point where they see nothing wrong with the evil that you have become. They even turn a blind eye when you terrorise your own people. They make that which is very abnormal appear normal to you. In the process you don’t see murder, pain, hunger, ill-health, poverty and starvation of your people but rather only see the ‘stardom’ in you. This is why in his response to the call that he must politely use his old age status to call it quits, he resorts to insults. Pathetic! Over the course of time, instead of having a truly socialist government where everyone is equal and cared for, you have in Zimbabwe a few at the top who control the wealth whilst the masses are still enslaved to poverty. This corruption trickles down until you have a totally dysfunctional family under the guise of government. Whether imperialism or socialism, the results are the same for the little guys who have no power; they remain poor.

The people of Zimbabwe who are clearly fed-up with economic collapse of an old man who refuses to accept his age spoke through the ballot in the March 2008 polls both at the Presidential and Parliamentary elections where Robert Mugabe’s ZANU PF lost the parliamentary elections to MDC. It was at these elections where MDC defeated ZANU PF in a presidential election where Robert Mugabe managed to get only 43.2% of the vote with MDC getting 49.9% of the vote. This election was allegedly rigged by Robert Mugabe as the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) took long to release the elections results in a ballot that was marred by violence instigated on the people of Zimbabwe. Everyone who cares about the people remains worried and angry at what happened. Like Bob Scott, I wonder if Robert Mugabe actually believes what he keeps saying that the whites are to blame for his country’s woes or it is a mere cover up for the atrocities not only against his people but against the once flourishing economy of Zimbabwe. He has entered into a war path with everyone who questions his leadership style. He labels at will and sees everything wrong with those suggesting that his time is up. But his time has long been up. His is not leadership. President Ian Khama has done what we do as a nation. We are a caring nation and we care about our neighbours. He has represented us well in the issue of Zimbabwe and he can do more to help liberate the people of Zimbabwe before he vacates office in 2018.

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