It is all very well for the world to call for the removal of Robert Mugabe from power within Zimbabwe, but has anyone stopped to consider the effects of life under Robert Mugabe, and the void that would be left in his sudden removal? It is one thing for an invading force to remove a dictator such as we have seen through history when the Allied forces divided up Germany after the removal of Adolf Hitler, or when the American led coalition finally rid Iraq of Saddam Hussein. In these instances we saw the world pour massive amounts of aid into a war torn region to bolster up its people, give the interim government a chance to begin the rebuilding of their nation, but even with all this help, we have watched two nations slowly tear themselves apart before beginning the long walk to reconciliation, reconstruction and recognition on the international stage.
Fair enough, my two examples are slightly different in that they exist under totally different circumstances, both having come out of long and damaging wars, both being divided by powers from within, and both having the lime light of the international community shone directly on them as their situations took centre stage in world politics. I do not believe that Mugabe will ever command such an effect to create a media storm around his removal, but one does begin to wonder what will happen in the absence of the despot. How will the nation begin to rebuild itself without the immediate attention of a world eager to make sure that more of the same does not happen again? Is there any hope that Zimbabwe will reach a point of free fair elections without the presence of Robert Mugabe, or are we headed towards yet another African leader hell bent on lining his own nest as quickly and lavishly as he can?
How do you begin to deal with a nation of mind washed youths who have apparently been beaten into submission and taught to believe that Robert Mugabe is their saviour? How do you take a disillusioned young man who is suddenly faced with a world absent of the pillar of power that he has been taught to believe will be his salvation and bring success to his efforts and teach him that life without Robert Mugabe is a better place? While Zimbabwe is one of the most well educated countries of the African continent, that generation of well informed scholars has either fled their nation for greener pastures, or long given up on the hope of a better life under Robert Mugabe. But the question still stands that without Mugabe is there anyone who currently shows the world that there is hope under their leadership for a better Zimbabwe. Many of the people that you speak to who used to believe that the MDC stood for change now comment that the MDC seem as bad as Mugabe, quietly accepting their place at his table knowing that while they can they are reaping the rewards of being in government in Zimbabwe.
The sad reality for many is that Zimbabwe will more than likely never really reach its once glorious position as a power house of the African continent. Its army are said to be overwhelmed with soldiers suffering from HIV. Its police force is riddled with corruption and operates as an extension of Robert Mugabe’s private army, crushing opposition where ever it springs up across the country. Many of its rank and file will be worried about the possibility of life without Mugabe at the helm, for fear of prosecution for their crimes. The existing hierarchy within government have perpetrated extensive criminal acts through the seizure of land, human rights abuses, murder and corruption, theft and embezzlement of state funds and live in a manner of making hay while the sun shines. You have to wonder how they will react under life without Mugabe. Will there be internal strife in terms of a power struggle within this Hierarchy or have they already worked out between themselves who will take over when Mugabe dies? And will it be a natural death that will remove Mugabe?
How many of his very own people hold things over him as he approaches the end of his days, and is he ever nervous that his past transgressions will come out of the closet to haunt him? Will this haunting be behind closed doors, away from the glare of the media spot light? Is he really as untouchable as he seems and are his days numbered? Obviously there will come a time where breath will leave his body, but it is very intriguing to contemplate the future of Zimbabwe without Mugabe.
There will certainly be a very long road to recovery for anyone to walk down in the rebuilding of Zimbabwe post Mugabe. First of all the spirit of the people will be of prime importance for any leader taking the stage in his absence. The nation as a whole will rejoice at the removal of the dictator from power, be it by force or be it by natural causes, there will be much cause for celebration and jubilation among the Zimbabwean people. But after that initial rejoicing, the realisation of the task at hand will return to face everyone. Change for the man on the street will not be something seen for a long time for the average Zimbabwean, as it will be a huge undertaking for any new leader to initially prove to a sceptical world that they are not more of the same. Life for most Zimbabweans won’t change until real investment returns to the shattered state, and one wonders how in this time of Financial Down Turn any meaningful investment can be rallied to support the new leader. With vast tracts of land promised to the likes of the Chinese in mining rights, mineral rights and various other rights, one wonders what else a new government can offer to a world hungry of cheap raw materials.
Maybe the option of cheap labour will be of interest to the lesser contentious nations of the world like Russia and parts of Eastern Europe, but with the West frowning heavily on the use of cheap labour I can’t see that being much of a leap forward for the Zimbabwean economy, and they would also be competing against the giants of rock bottom labour in India and China where doing it for next to nothing has already got a well established market. With the massive effect of brain drain, there is a huge hole in the people power within Zimbabwe, and one does wonder if without real jobs and the creation of sustainable and viable projects how many of the professional Zimbabweans will want to return in the early stages of a new nation under a new government. I tend to think the majority of us would love to return, but the reality of job security and value for living, many of us will choose to remain where we are for now.
I do wonder about agriculture in Zimbabwe. For Zimbabwe agriculture is the future, but it would appear that vast resources need to be put into teaching the new land owners to maximise the output of the land they now own. Massive investment needs to be pumped into the infrastructure of the agricultural industry and with much of that support coming from the west, one wonders if Zimbabwean’s are going to be willing to open their doors to that kind of invasion of the land they have just won so bitterly, even if the majority of it is now owned in one way or another by the elite of the nation. Will the new leadership have the ability to see beyond colour and realise that only through international co-operation can the agricultural sector be kick started into effective growth patterns. Is there a sense of understanding hidden below the table that will rise up once Mugabe has gone and oust those fooled into the ideology of Mugabe to make way for a democratic growth of the nation, based on the realisation that, “we can’t go it alone!”
The fundamental truth is that in as much as they probably hate to admit it, Zimbabwe needs the white man and the west more than they need it. The African Zimbabwean has for so long dreamt of living a comfortable life style. They have persevered so much, been patient for so long, and deserve some quality of life. I think personally as a Zimbabwean most of us don’t care who wins the war of words. Most of us are not really interested in who’s the boss in the seat of power, as long as they are fair, equal and worthy of our trust. For the average Zimbabwean man, woman or child we would be more than willing to work side by side, be it white, coloured or black. Prosperity and contentment is all we seek, and while life without Mugabe will be a difficult one for the large part until things come together and the world can see we want to be a part of the international community on an equal basis, our government is democratically elected by the people and representative of the interests of its people, then the doors will open for our dreams to come true. Many challenges face us before that day, and huge uncertainties lie before all of us, but I have faith that Zimbabwean people might carry the scars of life under Mugabe with them, but given the chance, given a good leader, given opportunity and the tools to do it, we will rise above.