Friday, 15 July 2016

Last Of The BIG Men

I have always been surprised that Robert Mugabe has managed to cling onto power in Zimbabwe for so long (The 92 year old has governed the country since independence in 1980). But perhaps 'cling on' is the wrong simile ... he has actually retained an iron grip on the country for decades. One of my earliest posts on this blog, was on his then position, and I was very wrong in assuming that he would have fallen long ago.

Bread And Circuses have Worked For Centuries .....

Now finally perhaps his grip may be slipping .... any tyrant has to think about 'bread and circuses' .... the two key elements to keeping the mob, err population, happy. Despite his total economic incompetence and corruption, Robert Mugabe has always found money for his key support base, the Army and Public Officials. He has always managed to make sure these two groups are paid, and therefore have a feel good factor, even while the rest of the country, particularly in rural areas, suffered great poverty.

It was on gaining full independence, one of the best economies in Sub-Saharan Africa, with a surplus trade balance and vast potential for economic growth, as anti-apartheid sanctions were lifted, and even now despite the economic decline of the last thirty-five years, Zimbabwe has remained at around 26th from the bottom of 187 countries in GDP lists.

But this year there has been a further decline in the public finances, and for the first time in years, if not ever, Mugabe has been unable to pay civil servants wages for over a month (80% of the government budget is spent on civil service salaries). This has sparked a number of protests from teachers, doctors and civil servants, and taxi drivers complaining about police extortion.

A national strike over the poverty in the country and the ruling parties corruption was with the protests were organised via the messaging site WhatsApp, and the Police used tear gas and water cannons to break up protests in some areas of the capital Harare. Given the polices regular use of torture, no one has claimed credit for organising the protests.

Maybe finally a pebble has been shaken loose from the edifice of power that Mugabe has built up over the decades ... I would like to say that time will tell, but as he's now aged 92 its more likely he will simply die in office, and it will be his 'successor' who will have to deal with any collapse of the power edifice.

Its perhaps this fear of what happens next that has driven his urge to retain control ... but whatever it is, its truly quite remarkable how long he has hung on for.


  1. Sorry Cant Say22 July 2016 at 13:12

    Lord of Misrule

    Zimbabwe war veterans end backing for Robert Mugabe. It accuses Mr Mugabe of dictatorial tendencies, egocentrism and misrule. But Mr Mugabe has said he plans to run for president again in 2018 and rule until he dies.

    1. Hmmm .... why do I think he's true when he says that 'he'll rule until he dies'. Thanks for the comment though.


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