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Comrade Robert Mugabe Remains a Hero

By Ofwono Opondo

Nov.12, 17

With the week-long dramatic, military-cum-political palace coup that ousted Zimbabwe’s anti-racist, and liberation war hero president, Robert Gabriel Mugabe at 93, after thirty-seven years in power, many ‘analysts’ near and far, have been quick to piece the pieces together, and concluding that Uganda could perhaps take the same route in the not so distant future. These ‘analysts’ especially the quislings have moved away from prescribing the Arab spring style insurrections that toppled Hosni Mubarak (Egypt), Zine El Abidine Ben Ali (Tunisia), and Muammar Gaddafi in Libya. Our own, indefatigable Kizza Besigye, has since 2001 publicly orchestrated a ‘tsunami’ to prematurely end President Yoweri Museveni’s leadership.
The International Crisis Group (ICG), a global policy think, issued a report building absurd scenarios of possible violence, civil war and breakdown in law and order coming from the police, military, and unemployed youth gangs because of “uncertain political transition,” and “a contested succession.” ICG postulated that decades of nepotism, and corruption means that the public service is unable to meet the rising demand and expectations for better delivery, while state patronage cannot satisfy everyone.    
President Museveni has made thirty-one years in power having come in at age 42. By 2021 when his current term ends, he would have clocked 35 un-interrupted, except by various rag-tag armed rebel outfits who tried to be a nuisance until all were defeated. Picking from the ongoing efforts to remove the seventy-five year age limit beyond which one cannot be a presidential candidate in an election, some have coined the ‘life-presidency’ narrative to inflame passion.
Many analysts drawing this parallel appear driven mainly by their hatred for Museveni which makes them to ignore the fundamental differences between Uganda and Zimbabwe. But yes, even if Museveni was to run again, he would only be 77, sixteen years younger than Mugabe, and perhaps fully in control of his physical and mental capabilities. At 93, one should surely hold the bragging rights to be stubborn as Mugabe demonstrated, because after all, what else can he lose. Not many can be leaders even in their own homes. Visibly, Mugabe is frail, became hostage of many forces including the old guards from independence war, and close family members. In fact, the veterans have held Mugabe hostage for a decade now, and his ouster was not a patriotic duty or competence, but self-aggrandisement. Museveni is not hostage to any group as he can still freely swing his political axe.
Museveni has built robust state and NRM party machinery comprising all generations counterbalancing each other, not beholden to bush-war nostalgia, and continues preparing succession within and outside NRM going by the national constitutional framework. However, NRM can exploit the amendment window to settle some of its internal matters.
NRM, and indeed Ugandans must avoid the temptation for a direct military intervention in settling our political disputes by building effective, functional and multiple democratic levers within NRM, civil society, parliament, and court systems that can withstand a stubborn situation. Listening to the lackluster and fractured Ugandan opposition, one gets the feeling of a feeble, compromised and opportunistic vultures set to jump into bed with any force they think can dislodge Museveni.  
It was dramatic, although saddening to witness ZANU-PF party officials who the previous week expelled Emmerson Mnangagwa, and re-named the nation’s airport in Mugabe’s honour ruthlessly turn on him at the nudging of the army. While in times like these, it is tempting to highlight negativity, Robert Mugabe has stood steadfast and succeeded against an evil political system of White racism, colonialism, and imperial arrogance, and perhaps no African leader has been as bold.
Mugabe’s fall at gun-point and ZANU-PF treachery demonstrates the folly of African opposition parties cobbled by imperial interests evidenced by the inability of MDC to influence ongoing events which has left it as a bystander hoping for the army’s magnanimity. The fall triggered not by the much hyped economic collapse, hardships and state brutality that people experience, but internal implosion is a further indictment to African politics. Or perhaps, Zimbabwe’s fate had been so intertwined with Mugabe’s that when he fell, people only became too happy to start rebuilding their lives from scratch.
In Zambia, Kenneth Kaunda was ousted by a motley collection of opposition led by trade unions taking advantage of economic hardships. In Kenya, Daniel arap Moi’s twenty-four rule was brought to an end by internal opposition from his long time rivals within KANU who walked out when he hand-picked Uhuru Kenyatta as his successor, leaving KANU, the empty shell it is today.
In Zaire, now DRC, Joseph Mobutu Sese was taken out by foreign sponsored rebel forces as his French and Belgian masters following their role in the 1994 Rwanda genocide could no longer justify their presence in Africa and walked away in humiliation. In Malawi, Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda died aged 99, and with him his Malawi Congress Party. In Algeria, Tanzania, Angola, Mozambique, and South Africa their independence and liberation political movements have been able to survive by making strategic adjustments that matched the times, and consigning opposition quislings out of state power, which I believe NRM will be able to do.