Mugabe’s dubious rise to power

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Former President Robert Mugabe delivering his 'famous' Asante Sana last year.
Former President Robert Mugabe delivering his 'famous' Asante Sana last year.

By Marian Mutasa.

There is something about Zimbabwe’s former President Robert Mugabe’s climb to power that does not seem to add up.

Mugabe’s meteoritic rise and stranglehold at the helm has had many historical versions to an extent that some of them could have been as a consequence of summersaults occasioned by many a commentator’s godly fear of the man.

Mugabe has had a record for being both ruthless and shrewd when it comes to political practice and opposition to his personal opinion.

A glimpse of Mugabe’s entrance into the political arena shows that he has survived on shortcuts and chicanery.

In the late 50s Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana’s new government detained Mugabe for a litany of charges.

It is rumoured that he opposed Ghana’s government to an extent of contesting for political office in a country where he was an in-law. Some ZIPRA cadres state that it was the late Joshua Nkomo who secured his release from jail in that county, thus on his return to Zimbabwe he became the secretary for Youth Affairs in NDP before that organisation transformed to  ZAPU owing to repression by the Rhodesian authorities at the time.

In 1963 Ndabaningi Sithole and others formed ZANU at Enos Nkala’s house because they differed with ZAPU on ideology and the way the liberation struggle was to be executed.

Sithole was elected President of the new party, which had a semblance of a tribal outfit. With Mugabe’s cunning ways when it came to political power, the ZANU leadership was made to pass a vote of no confidence on Sithole who was accused of paying attention to his sick child in the US in 1976. In the same year Mugabe and Tekere were released from prison and immediately crossed into Mozambique.

Most surprisingly, Edson Sithole, Ndabaningi’s brother disappeared from prison the same year Mugabe and Tekere were released. It is speculated that Mugabe might have colluded with the authorities to sacrifice Edson for his personal benefit. This conspiracy theory is valid in that Mugabe’s release coincided with Edson’s mysterious disappearance in prison, while Mugabe did not take long to overthrow Ndabaningi Sithole.

Mugabe was never accepted by the majority of ZANU PF’s senior cadres in Mozambique. However, it was Rex Nhongo who convinced other comrades to accept Mugabe as ZANU PF leader after Sithole was disposed of leadership. On the eve of Zimbabwe’s Independence, Mugabe is said to have masterminded the killing of Josiah Tongogara in a car accident, because they differed in principle regarding the Patriotic Front. Since Independence, Mugabe has been ruling Zimbabwe with an iron fist and most people who differed with him died in mysterious road accidents. He militarised most government departments that saw the army, police and the CIO becoming an extension of ZANU PF.

The entry of Mugabe’s wife into the political arena influenced political dynamics in ZANU PF. There was fierce jostling for power between Joyce Mujuru and Emmerson Mnangagwa. However, Joyce Mujuru had an upper hand, given that she was wife of the retired Army General. It is speculated that to deal with Joyce Mujuru, it was expedient to kill her powerful husband first.

Thus, Rex Mujuru’s mysterious death in a house inferno. In 2014 Joyce Mujuru was expelled from Zanu PF on unfounded claims that she wanted to overthrow Mugabe. Mnangagwa and Grace Mugabe are said to have masterminded the expulsion of Jocyce Mujuru from the party and government.

The new-found love between Grace and Mnangagwa was short lived. Mugabe wanted his wife to succeed him but the military preferred Mnangagwa instead. Mnangagwa was expelled from ZANU PF at the end of 2017. Mnangagwa’s expulsion angered war veterans and the military. While Mnangagwa was in exile in South Africa, war veterans and the military mobilised the masses to protest against Mugabe’s autocratic rule.

The army put Mugabe and his wife under house arrest, while parliament was moving a motion to impeach him. Mugabe was eventually forced to resign as the president of Zimbabwe and ZANU PF. Him and his wife were summarily expelled from ZANU PF and Mnangagwa became the country’s president.

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