(Former) President Robert Mugbabe overthrown about a week ago might be running a risk by not resigning or accepting the option of stepping out to exile to provide for political settlement. The fear is that, from the mobilisation of groups and interests against him, it could come to a physical confrontation between him and the masses sooner than later. Observers are fearful of what a ‘movement of rage’ could do should they magically overpower the military elements around the residence where he is being held.
The fear in some quarters is that such would be a terrible fate for the person who could otherwise have been the greatest African hero. Although Mugabe has now put in jeopardy the chance of being correctly recognised for the sacrifices he made for Africa and which some hack writers are trying to rubbish, he should not meet such fate.
Many of his admirers have been so disappointed he allowed himself to be bitten by the typical African leader’s failure to groom successors. Instead, he too began to believe in restricting a successor to his wife who had obviously not attained the level of ideological and organisational discipline to take such a responsibility just because she happens to be the wife of the out-gone president.
The belief in many quarters now is that the mobilisation, attendance and the rhetoric of the rally yesterday should send a signal to Bob that time is, indeed, up and an exit that can still be called dignified is still possible.
It is most unlikely the crowd could go beserk under watchful military eyes. However, in politics, anything can happen. Not if critical centres of power pronounce their distance from him in the series of meetings between now and Tuesday. What would still be the bargaining chips? Or has Mugabe still a joker or jokers in the pocket?
Meanwhile and not surprisingly, none of the major powers or players in the resolution of the stalemate is with the deposed president if it is based on these quotations as listed by the BBC:
- US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urged a quick return to civilian rule, but also said the crisis was an opportunity for Zimbabwe to set itself on a new path, (uhmm!)
- Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Beijing was hoping for stability and a peaceful “appropriate” resolution, (what could appropriate resolution be in a contested context other than who or which group has the leverage to impose its will, forcefully or ‘constitutionally?)
- UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson warned against a transition from “one unelected tyrant” to another
- Botswana’s President Ian Khama said regional leaders did not support Mr Mugabe staying in power
- Alpha Conde, the chairman of the African Union, a key regional bloc, said the takeover “seems like a coup” and demanded a return to constitutional order, (if Mugabe is denounced and successfully impeached and some civilian replaces Gen Chiwenga who has not formally named himself as Head of State, then there would have been a return to constitutional order)
- South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma said the region was committed to supporting the people of Zimbabwe, and was optimistic the situation could be resolved amicably, (this amounts to saying little or nothing)
How far can he rely on the fact that this is a ZANU-PF family quarrel that would, somehow, still be resolved amicably without explosive manifestations if it goes beyond certain limits? If the family were such a solid one, why did the push come to a shove?