Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tsvangirai & Mugabe: Impossible Characters

SADC is meeting for the umpteenth time to discuss the Zimbabwe situation. This time President Mugabe is holding hands with President Mothlanthe and not Thabo Mbeki. The SADC heads are meeting behind closed doors - once again - to thrash out a solution to the Zimbabwe problem. Once again, nothing will come out of this meeting, and President Mugabe will have free reign to do as he pleases in Zimbabwe.

The problem here is that President Mugabe detests Tsvangirai with passion, and until those two combatants are separated, nothing will come out of any unity talks. You see, politics is more than just about ideology and policy; it's also about personalities. Mugabe detests Tsvangirai; Mutambara detests Tsvangirai; Thabo Mbeki detests Tsvangirai; Kgalema Mothlanthe detests Tsvangirai; Jakaya KIkwete detests Tsvangirai; Armando Guebuza detests Tsvangirai; Tsvangirai's only ally is President Khama of Botswana - and he's a political nonentity.
When there is such a personality clash, then it's better - for the benefit of the nation - to bring in a different personality as head.

In Apartheid South Africa, it became obvious to the Nats that PW Botha would never concede to majority rule. That's why they roped in the relatively malleable, FW DE Clerk. It was the malleable De Klerk who chaperoned majority rule into South Africa.
If "Die Grote Krokodil" PW Botha had remained at the head of the Nats, with the support of his hard-line supporters in the security services (Constant Viljoen, Magnus Malan, Kobie Coetzee, Jannie Geldenhuys) then we will still be fighting for majority rule down South.

It's time for far-seeing MDC officials to survey the situation, take notes, and then come to their senses. For the benefit of Zimbabwe, they have to replace Morgan Tsvangirai. The opposition does not belong to him alone. Another leader will then be able to take his rightful place as PM in a unity government. Then we could sort out Zimbabwe's problems.

James Chikonamombe

Friday, January 2, 2009

80 is not the new 60

To all the African leadership I want to offer this piece of advice: don’t believe everything that you see on TV, or hear on the radio. Fifty is not the new thirty; forty is not the new 20; and 80 is definitely not the new 60! Don’t think that an 80 year old man who marries a 29 year old bride automatically drops down in age to 60. No! 80 is still the same old 80, and forty is still the same old forty.

Part of the reason why Africa is in such a mess is that we have a gerontocracy in leadership. President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt is now 80. On TV he looks like a walking mummy. He clearly has no solution to the problems of Egypt’s teeming masses. President Kibaki of Kenya looks clueless on TV. He loses himself when giving speeches and he is forever tired. President Biya of Cameroon is in his mid-seventies, and President Bongo of Gabon is also in his seventies. President Biya is forever visiting French hospitals to cure his many ailments. In fact, he spends more time in France than in Cameroon. Why not just step down to allow a younger leader to take over? The same goes for President Bongo. How someone who acceded to the Presidency in 1967 is still the President defies any sense of realism and common sense. Mzee Bongo is apparently in good health, but he just prefers living in France to his own Gabon. Why be the President of a country when you would rather be elsewhere?

Do forum members still remember the last days of Le Vieux, Houphouet-Boigny? To this day I still can't tell for sure whether his aides had been propping him up on a chair and he actually had been dead along. His eyes were glazed, there was no hand-movement and he had a fixed smile. He looked dead to me, and yet nevertheless, he was still the President. Meanwhile, his loyal deputies such as Konan Bedie were busy wrecking the country. It’s been downhill ever since and I doubt Cote D’Ivoire will ever recover from its problems in one piece.

What about Ngwazi Mawawa, Kamuzu Banda in Malawi. In his last years he was still ruling Malawi when he was over 100years old, wheelchair-bound, and always pushed by his "assistant" Mama Kadzamira. And yet he still was the President, spitting into a spittoon as he wondered what the hell was going on in this world. Meanwhile the family of his assistant/paramour (Mama Kadzamira) were busy helping themselves to the state coffers. I can also add the late President of Guinea, Lansana Conte, who had been bed-ridden for ten years or so suffering from diabetes and other ailments.

Leaders in their early forties to mid-fifties should be in charge of African countries. To have leaders in their mid-70s and early 80s has proven to be disastrous for all African countries affected, and this must cease to be. We need relative youth and dynamism at the top.

James Chikonamombe