The prospect of a 75-year-old man, with armed friends, replacing his 94-year-old comrade is a comment on the absurdity of stunted democracy. But how did Zimbabwe arrive at this mockery of democracy after 37 years of repression and depression?
Power slipped from the hands of the First Family, when the prospects of a spouse replacing a spouse, through bedroom conspiracy, looked possible. It took military intervention to wake up President Robert Mugabe and First Lady Grace Mugabe from the stupor of love. There was another side of reality the lovers had missed.
The message from the barracks was, "Look, President Mugabe you have enjoyed the status of President-freedom fighter for 37 years, but you should know that state power cannot be sexually-transmitted."
Six years shy of age 100, the founding President of Zimbabwe, a celebrated freedom fighter, so loved himself and Grace, he promised her the kingdom. Or how else did the people expect Mugabe to consecrate his love for Grace? A slice of Zimbabwe was a gift of love.
Mugabe did not want leadership to fall into the wrong bed. Grace was, in the besotted eyes of the beholder, his logical successor. President Mugabe sacrificed friends and comrades to protect Grace. She had given the President love, children and a promise of retirement nest in State House, Harare. She was relying solely on her feminine prowess. No one else could have guaranteed Mugabe security and succour of State House during the final leg of his mortality. He had sacrificed his life and freedom to rescue Zimbabwe from the grip of colonialism. It was Zimbabwe's turn to secure Mugabe a Grace-filled retirement.
For this promise, another former Vice President Joyce Mujuru had to go in 2014, at the instigation of Grace. The widowed VP was too ambitious for the liking of the possessive First Lady. Mujuru had no friends in critical places to back up her presidential ambition. Mujuru, a decorated freedom fighter, with a nickname — 'Spill Blood' — from the war of independence, was probably appointed VP to console her after her husband General Solomon Mujuru was assassinated in 2011. The General, like her wife, had a reputation of being 'dangerous'. He had to go to pave way for Grace. But in playing with the 'Crocodile', the First Couple bit more than they could swallow. They hit a dead-end, when Grace, 41 years younger than her husband, was about to rewrite history of spousal succession.
The mood down South should be sombre, rather than celebratory. The situation gets more confusing when the man being celebrated is nicknamed 'Crocodile'. Emerson Mnangagwa has a history of being stealthy and brutal when dealing with critics of the de-Graced state and Mugabe. The new President has a history of mayhem in Matabeleland, the excluded tribe of the late Joshua Nkomo. Comrade Nkomo had to die for Mugabe, of the dominant Shona tribe, to consolidate power over Zimbabwe.
The Crocodile, now occupying State House, has been a fierce ally of the disgraced, and de-Graced Mugabe. What will he do differently? The jury is still out on this.
Zimbabwe is where Kenya was in 2002, when President Mwai Kibaki replaced President Daniel Moi. Moi's confidante for 39 years, with a shared political party history, Kibaki represented the status quo. But the country was happy he had replaced Moi. It was anyone but Moi. Down South, it is anyone but Mugabe. Mnangagwa is a better devil. This year, Kenya is where Zimbabwe was in 2008. Kenya is also back where it was in 2008, when President Kibaki mangled democracy to secure a second term.
After losing a presidential race to opposition Movement for Democratic Change, under Morgan Tsvangirai in 2008, Mugabe unleashed violence to push the opposition candidate out of the presidential return. Mugabe won 99.2 per cent of the vote. The bullet flew over the ballot. Mugabe kept security agencies in his corner to ensure he retained power for another decade. He abused the ballot because he had the bullet. It's a pity a former statesman left with jeers and sneers. He still has Grace, but he has lost grace.