A Plea for Mr Robert Mugabe to retire.

Monday, January 25, 2010

By Rejoice Ngwenya

Why would a citizen vehemently request his Octogenarian President to retire if he has not had enough of “land expropriation, three million Zimbabweans in exile, one billion percent inflation, collapse in education, health, road and electricity infrastructure, extensive poverty, election violence and death, biased judiciary, media paranoia”? Our regular columnist, Rejoice Ngwenya believes Mugabe has outlived his usefulness or rather uselessness as a President. And he reminds Mugabe that his retrogressive sense of judgement is as a result of natural progression in age.

Dear Mr. Mugabe,

I do not know how to put this, Sir. I have wrestled with my conscience and come to a rationally logical conclusion that after what transpired in your one-man ‘presidential election’ of June 2008, I could not possess enough of a morsel of moral authority, bestowed or assumed, to address you as ‘President’. Moreover, to address you as ‘commander-in-chief’ would necessarily implicate you on the atrocities that your well-trained Fifth Brigade killing machine committed in Matabeleland in the 1980s.

Again if I were to venture onto the term ‘head of state and government’, this would mean you were directly responsible for the collapse in national governance, the blatant disregard in rule of law, a judiciary and policing system that takes only one side – yours – and incremental poverty that has engulfed the people of Zimbabwe for so long. Sir, as ‘head of state and government’, you have to be collectively and jointly responsible for the unprecedented incompetence that your cabinet was associated with in the past ten years, also having misled Zimbabweans on a dangerous path of self-destruction. Nonetheless, God places us in this world in a hierarchy, some whose chain of command is pre-destined, and others where man defines the rules and as such becomes a result of collective consensus. Like the authority bestowed upon national leaders as a result of a legitimate electoral process, of which category you purport to be in, but I vehemently, unreservedly dispute and refuse to submit to.

My argument is that as you approach your eighty-sixth birthday, I have reason to believe that you look back with an unusual mixture of pride and trepidation at the history of your contribution to the struggle for self-determination in this country. No doubt you are consumed with an overwhelming sense of satisfaction that your personal sacrifice deserves all the accolades – and many agree with you. Luckily, I am not in that group, and for good reason.

There is empirical evidence that in African, Eastern and Western Culture, those who overstay their welcome at one time or another of necessity put their host in a state of perpetual discomfort. Your name has featured strongly in the arena of local, regional and global politics. Like all prominent men in history – Napoleon Bonaparte, Tshaka Zulu, Benito Mussolini, Nelson Mandela, Adolph Hitler, Winston Churchill, Kwame Nkrumah, George Washington, Mao Tse Tung, Julius Nyerere, Kenneth Kaunda, Samora Machel, Kamuzu Banda – the list is endless – there comes a time when the doors of their fortune are closed. Some, like Mr Mandela, left the arena when millions world over wished them to stay. Others, like Adolph Hitler, took their lives in fear of popular retribution. There are those like Mr Kaunda and Mr Banda whose political fortunes were obliterated by winds of democratic change – and were left with no choice but to succumb to the pressure of popular mass discontent.

But there is a tiny minority of leaders, almost miniscule to the point of invisibility, like you sir, who, by reason of omission or commission, either misinformed or deliberate – fail to acknowledge the principle of political diseconomies of scale. It is almost impossible to recite your history without stumbling onto a grain of good things that you did, for I would be guilty of misrepresentation. And yet weighed against the collective pain and suffering that the citizens of this land have endured in the time of your reign, your erstwhile achievements pale in significance. I am not a good accountant, but if your ‘presidential’ life was constructed in ‘double entry’, or more appropriately, perceived as a ‘balance sheet’, your side of life’s liabilities would far outweigh that of assets! Put simply, for the past twenty five years of your reign sir, we the citizens of this country have been subjected to your corrosive, bankrupt ideological system.

While this is a strong case for your immediate resignation, there is even a stronger case for your retirement. I will summarise my case. The laws of this country, unless I have not read them well, do not permit civil or public servants to be engaged beyond sixty years of age. There is both intellectual and biological justification for this universally acceptable standpoint. All human beings – including those purportedly chosen on a ticket of popular rhetoric – are subject to deteriorating mental and physical capacity with age. Moreover, is it only a coincidence that those who cling to political power tend to be associated with tyranny and dictatorship? There is no possibility that at such an advanced age sir, your capacity of good judgment can be as good as being capable of satisfying the demands of millions of Zimbabweans who are several generations below you. Since the time you were inaugurated in the 1980s, there have been massive shifts in governance perception and standards, economic scenarios and political demands. How is it possible, sir that you can cope with all these new trends?

In humbly persuading you to retire, I would not therefore want to dwell too much on the negatives – Gukurahundi, the DRC intervention, Murambatsvina, land expropriation, three million Zimbabweans in exile, one billion percent inflation, collapse in education, health, road and electricity infrastructure, extensive poverty, election violence and death, biased judiciary, media paranoia – no sir! Perhaps, in persuading you to retire, I may be one of the few renegades who believe your continuing participation in local and regional politics further enhances the high risk perception that foreign and local investors have of Zimbabwe!

It might be that I am part of the small group of political misfits who believe you and ZANU-PF have continuously worked day and night against the success of the Global Political Agreement. Would I be so naïve as not to see that I could, like the few others, be accused of accusing you and your gluttonous ruling elite of wanting to cling to power to continuing plundering the meagre resources of this increasingly impoverished nation? Sir, I therefore do not refuse that for the few of us, we strongly believe the ‘land reform’ and ‘indigenisation’ benefited the few who are associated with the power brokers in ZANU-PF. These sir, are my reasons of advancing a case for your overdue retirement. Thank you, sir.

Rejoice Ngwenya is an associate of www.AfricanLiberty.org and President of Coalition for Liberal Market Solutions in Harare.