By John Chimunhu|
Now Daily Analysis|
It could be a scene from The Godfather. The heir-apparent (Robert Mugabe Junior) is a thick-headed womaniser whose recklessness eventually gets him killed, politically, of course. The other male child (Chatunga Bellarmine) is too academic and can not grasp the issues. The only woman in the family (Bona) is married wrong and her personal woes are sapping the family’s energy.
In the unfolding political drama, the Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe, like the Godfather, is trying desperately to impose a family successor on an obstinate nation in his twilight years.
The attempt has already met with stiff resistance from within his own party, resulting in Zanu PF splitting right down the middle in December 2014, and the splintering is continuing.
Never trusting anyone but his own blood to hold effective state power, Mugabe has always surrounded himself with relatives. The minister of mining in charge of the lucrative Marange diamonds keeping the regime afloat, Walter Chidhakwa, is his cousin. So is Ignatius Chombo, his most trusted minister and head of local government, in charge of land seized forcibly from white owners, another cash cow for the regime. The police commissioner Augustine Chihuri, in charge of the dictatorship’s terror apparatus, is also the despot’s cousin while the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority boss Gershom Pasi and his wife Grace are cousins.
Mugabe consolidated this concentration of family power in December by appointing his wife to the Zanu PF politburo in preparation for a cabinet post and, eventually the presidency. That plan has run into trouble and the women’s ministry which she was to assume remains without a substantive head. Grace Mugabe has colon cancer, according to sources, and the condition may be incurable.
Still, even before Grace came along and bore kids for him, Mugabe was never short of a close relative to groom for eventual state power if the end came to him.
First, in the 1980s, he tried to annoint his nephew Leo Mugabe, an engineer and entrepreneur who was liked by his late first wife Sally and by his mother Bona, but turned out to be a disaster after an airport construction scandal.
Mugabe then turned to his other nephew, Patrick Zhuwao, who had lived large at his uncle’s London mansion until he was deported. Mugabe turned Zhuwao from a scruffy student in the UK into the first dreadlocked government deputy minister. Mugabe hated dreadlocks, associating them with marijuana, even if he had invited the legendary Jamaican star Bob Marley to perform at the country’s independence celebrations in 1980. Ironically, Mugabe’s wife was also to sport locks and was reputed to smoke marijuana, a drug habit that has caught on with the Mugabes’ youngest son Chatunga Bellarmine. Once described by Mugabe as presidential material better than vice presidents Emmerson Mnangagwa and Joice Mujuru, his father was to later complain that Bellarmine was a drunkard and porn addict who stayed up late watching naked girls on his laptop. Zhuwao, too, was to prove to be a terror after reports linked him sexually to Grace Mugabe, an affair that started in the late ’80s when the then presidential typist used to hang out at the president’s London home before being banned from UK by the British for human rights crimes.
Mugabe’s eldest son, Robert Junior was secretly trained as a soldier, plays basketball and dresses like an American rap star. Hardly the sort who can inherit and lead his father and mother’s violent militias and run the dictator’s octopus-like business empire. In fact, on business matters, Mugabe seems to trust Russel Goreraza, his thuggish step-son from Grace’s first marriage to airforce officer Stanley Goreraza. The younger Goreraza runs the Mugabes’ flagship Alpha Omega Dairies and a number of mining concerns. None of the secretive Mugabe’s own children’s business interests has been revealed, although daughter Bona graduated from Hong Kong’s City University with a banking degree.
Now, it seems, Mugabe has turned to 24 year-old Bona to rescue his dynastic ambitions and rule the country forever. This became all too apparent in the eyes of bureaucrats and political pundits in Zimbabwe when Mugabe took Bona as part of an official delegation to meet Shinzo Abe, the Japanese prime minister.
The Mugabe succession plan has been rejected by democrats. Even autocratic figures within Zanu PF like Didymus Mutasa began to talk about the importance of “one man one vote”, refusing to have Grace Mugabe imposed on them. Certainly, it is not in the interests of good governance to allow one discredited family to run the ship of state to perpetuity.
In a nation of 15 million, nearly a third of them registered as voters, it is inconceivable that Zimbabweans can fail to find a leader from a different gene pool that is not tainted by corruption and political murder.
– John Chimunhu.