Gilbert Nyambabvu

Nyambabvu is the deputy editor of New Zimbabwe.com. He is a keen football fan (read Manchester United) and reads classics to stay sane

Mugabe: death betakes man, never his legacy

Legacy ... Mugabe has been the subject of health rumours

THE recent frenzied media speculation over President Robert Mugabe’s health attracted a robust and typically acerbic rebuttal from ex-information minister Professor Jonathan Moyo, who demanded of those behind the rumours to state whether they were witches driven by malice or Good Samaritans genuinely concerned about his health.

Professor Moyo may not have stated the point, but there is no doubting the possibility that he considers merchants of such malignant gossip no better than spineless and profaning witches whose minds are the very workshops of the devil.

Moyo is a wickedly beguiling figure and even those who find his politics revolting will concede a grudging admiration for his brilliant, if provocative, witticisms. Still, the underlying profundity of his all-too-regular rants is often un-contestable.

Indeed, it is difficult to understand what redress those bothering the heavens with daily prayers for Mugabe’s physical demise will derive from that much-delayed, but certain eventuality.

One wonders if they ever contemplate the entirely plausible possibility that Mugabe considers his life’s work already done and may be at a point where he is actually desirous of the liberation of eternal rest.

Compatriots doing the rounds in Albion’s facilities for those with infirmities arising from age (take no offence noble friends for Queen and country doth show gratitude) will be aware that at 87 – Mugabe’s age – life invariably becomes something of an unbearable effort and, as Shakespeare remarks in Othello, “it is silliness to live when to live is torment”.

More seriously, however, opponents of the Zanu PF leader need to disabuse themselves of the misplaced belief that Mugabeism — whose basic ethos is either liberation and empowerment (if you support the man) or (if you don’t) murderous dictatorship done to perfection — will die with the man.

One does not need to regularly wear a Zambia emblazoned with Mugabe’s much-abused head to realise that his legacy will endure beyond his mortality and possibly impact Zimbabwe — now and in the future — the same way the ideas of America’s founding fathers continue to influence the United States today.

In truth, nothing illustrates this point better than Johnne Donne’s powerful rebuke of death in the Divine Sonnet, ‘Death be not proud’. The English poet famously mocked a “personified death”, triumphantly stating that its supposed sting is but the rest of the bones “and (the) soul’s delivery” adding that men will “wake eternally”. As such, Mugabe’s legacy – good or vile – is certain to be his “eternal wake”.

If one may begin by tickling his supporters’ fancies, future regimes may well tweak here and there, but it is generally accepted that Zimbabwe’s political independence is irreversible and so is the reorganisation of the country’s agriculture – however chaotic the manner of its initial implementation. Ditto measures to give locals majority control in foreign companies.

Again, the oft-peddled opposition claim (hope, more likely) that Mugabe’s removal will lead to the collapse of Zanu PF invites challenge. It is entirely plausible that Zanu PF will – like the Hydra of Greek mythology – simply grow another head in place of that scythed away by the exigencies of fate. Mugabe’s ambitious lieutenants recognise that their security is better guaranteed by the body collective.

They are also aware that the most likely outcome of any internecine struggle for control of party and country is that “bondslaves and pagans shall our statesmen be” — for that is certainly their view of Morgan Tsvangirai and his MDC party.

It is worth stating as well that this elitist disregard for Tsvangirai and his representation of the rise of the unschooled is shared by many outside of Zanu PF. The majority of Zimbabwe’s educated and wealthy elite equally frown at the prospect of a takeover of power by this hero of a class of people described by Tony Parsons as ordinarily “belch(ing) and fart(ing) their way through life” instead of “read(ing) books (and) filling theatres”.

And Tsvangirai has – both as leader of the MDC and Prime Minister – unfortunately helped bolster this cynically crude view that men whom providence did not gift with intelligence and only taught to “till the soil, to ditch and to thatch” should “work joyfully” in their assigned stations. What else are we to make of a man who takes American spies for golfing buddies and then cries foul when the same spies declare him appallingly unfit for both the fairway and any office of State? The man is decidedly wiki-lashed to political destruction.

But to get back to Mugabe, the point must be made that his visitation with his maker – whether imminent or not – will not heal the festering wounds of deep-sitting grievance nursed by many over his lengthy reign. Mugabe’s passing will not, of itself, necessarily let loose “the justice of the State” upon those who authored and implemented the bloody pogroms of the past. Neither will it bring redress and closure to victims for their loss.

In addition, those who argue that Mugabe has presided over a murderous kleptocracy would have to be unremittingly naïve to think that the greed and the corruption will go away with his passing. Mugabe’s corrupt henchmen and murderous goons are not going to, all of a sudden, become Mother Theresa re-incarnates because their leader is gone. Indeed, we should worry about the prospect of mindless agitators of the likes of Joseph Chinotimba getting panicked and running amok in the event of Mugabe’s passing.

Clearly therefore, Cde Mugabe is ours to love, cherish and hate for better or for worse; for richer or for poorer; in health and in death. So, help us God!