Friday, November 12, 2010

Mugabe's English Retirement Idyll

Writing in the New Statesman, Sholto Barnes has offered an English retirement for President Robert Mugabe as one way of getting him out of Zimbabwe's current political stalemate. This is not as far-fetched an idea as it seems. Economists use the term "Opportunity Cost" to refer to opportunities or incomes foregone when pursuing other activities. The opportunity cost of not having President Mugabe in an English retirement would be another five years of his rule in Zimbabwe. That would mean another 5 years of political strife and economic stagnation. A frightening prospect indeed.

Setting up a recalcitrant leader in luxurious retirement overseas is not without precedent. When Senegalese President Abdou Diouf lost the 2000 Presidential elections to Abdoulaye Wade, the French were quick to nip any potential trouble in the bud. Ex-President Diouf was given a luxury apt in one of Paris' swankiest arrondissements and fast-tracked to be the next Secretary-General of La Francophonie. Once out of the way, there was no way he could foment any trouble that would harm France's interests in Senegal

A similar deal to get President Robert Mugabe to retire to England just might be as worthy. It would also do wonders for Zimbabwe's putrid political-scene and tanking economy. Robert Mugabe (ever the anglophile) just might take up this offer and The Cotswolds would provide the perfect setting for an idyllic retirement estate.

Early mornings (he's an early riser) would be spent taking in the air, whilst afternoons would be the time for dictating his memoirs to an assistant. Late afternoons would be the time for High Tea (I told you, he's an Anglophile), the time to entertain a chorus-line of guests from the Diplomatic Service, to exiled despots, to nameless and shameless "Old Africa Hands".

Weekends would be reserved for watching Test Cricket at Lords (he follows cricket), in the Members Section (of course), as always, resplendent in his tie and blazer (he's a natty dresser). All of these activities would be happening whilst his shopaholic wife, Grace Mugabe, would be breaking the bank at Harrods. But enough of Grace, let's move on. Lashings of Test Cricket would be followed by yet more meetings with aged "Africa Hands" at various high-end London restaurants. I can almost see Mugabe wagging one hand of rebuke (against colonialism) at his English dinner-companions whilst using the other hand to nibble at a plate of roasted pheasant (he's a picky eater).

Sunday mornings would be reserved for Mass (he's an observant Catholic) followed in the afternoons by yet more meetings with aged "Africa Hands" over servings of tea-and-crumpet (that British thing, again). So there it is. I've painted an idyllic retirement scenario for an outcome (Mugabe's ouster and idyllic retirement) that would be beneficial for all. Why not give it a try.

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