Fri | Oct 19, 2018

George Davis | Mugabe's last stand

Published:Tuesday | November 21, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s embattled president, sits for formal photographs after a graduation ceremony at Zimbabwe Open University on the outskirts of Harare, Zimbabwe, last Friday.

Despite what has been written about him by the Western media over the last 20 years, Robert Mugabe, or Comrade Bob, remains a man I admire. And though he lost his way years ago from the moment he launched an offensive against the white of his people, sanctioning the taking of their livelihoods and, in some cases, their lives for the benefit of the black of his people, Mugabe retains a kind of defiant quality. That kind of quality, which, sadly, ensures that the possessor alienates friends and allies is indeed rare among men and women.

That idiosyncrasy cannot be checked, and Mugabe laid it on thick on Sunday as he gave what will turn out to be his final speech as president of the state of Zimbabwe. Because of this defiance, Comrade Bob is blinded to the reality of what is happening to him. In his mind, he's still in control. He's still dictating the pace of the game and retains the ability to make substitutions and tactical adjustments.

His defiance is such that he alone cannot see that he has not so much fallen on his sword as he has been shoved violently from the back, to fall 10 storeys down on to a bed of sharpened steel. Yes, it's only Comrade Bob, the man at 93 years old who believes he's 39 and in his physical prime, who doesn't see that he's bleeding all over his bespoke Savile Row suit.

Perhaps only when the Zimbabwe Parliament invokes Article 97 of the 2013 constitution to complete the impeachment process against him will Comrade Bob, sliding in his own blood, finally realise that the game is up.

As the world watches the pin draw ever closer to the bubble in which Comrade Bob has ensconced himself for decades, the question emerges again: Why do men love power so? Why do men often outstay their welcome to the extent that much of the wonderful things they achieved in their careers are laid waste by the stubborn refusal in later years to allow the rice cooking in the pot to swell?

What is it that convinced Comrade Bob that only he or his God-awful wife, 'Gucci' Grace, or an even better moniker, 'disGrace', could run that southern African country? Is his brainpower and intellect such that only he can lead? I see a lot of Mugabe in some managers and CEOs I've worked with in my time, where their attitude is that they are the boss because they are better than every single employee in every aspect of the job.

Based on how his army has turned against him, Comrade Bob, by the time reality reaches him, will wonder what he did to cause this betrayal. The answers are myriad. Go back to 2012 when he gave an interview to mark his 88th birthday. Comrade Bob was asked to state the calibre of leader he wanted to succeed him and whether he had yet identified that successor. He answered, "No, the party will find a successor. It's the people who can find a successor. I came from the people, and the people in their wisdom, our members of the party, will certainly select someone once I say I am now retiring, but not yet."

Five years after making that noble decree, a period marked by the sacking of several potential successors, when even the dead could see he was hell-bent on elevating 'disGrace' to the office of president, Mugabe has finally got his comeuppance. And with Zimbabweans not hearing the magical phrase 'I resign' in that speech from Sunday, lawmakers are now tightening the piano wire around the neck of his 37-year-reign as dictator-in-chief.

Comrade Bob has long been in love with the cult of his own personality. On February 21 this year when he celebrated his 93rd birthday, he wore a spiffy jacket woven out of fabric with his own face on it. He has in the past spoken of being greater than God, noting in 2012 that, "I have died many times - that's where I have beaten Christ. Christ died once and resurrected once."

You know what, if he escapes the fate that awaits, I will believe him.


- George Davis is a broadcast executive producer and talk-show host. Email feedback to and