Last week Robert Mugabe, the 90-year old President of Zimbabwe, made his succession one of the trickiest of Africa during his party?s conference, leaving little or no visibility on who might rule this country of 13 million people when biology finally takes its toll on the autocrat.
Mugabe was reelected for a five-year term as president of the ruling Zanu-PF party. He also managed to put his wife at the top of the very influential Women?s league, confirming that the ?three month meteoric rise? of the 49-year-old former government typist, Grace Mugabe, was carefully planned to secure senior official positions for the presidential clan.
The President?s wife has been one of the harshest critics of Vice-President Joice Mujuru, who until recently was seen as Mugabe?s most likely successor.
However, Mujuru is no longer in position to claim the job, for she has been accused by the President of plotting with the U.S. embassy to get him removed, or worse, assassinated.
No one seems to really understand what?s happening in Zimbabwe and why the status quo created in 1980 by the ruling President is still prevailing. However, most analysts agree that it will be increasingly complex to get the country out of the political deadlock created by this man?s iron will to remain in power.
Indeed, Mugabe gives us vivid examples of three plagues of African Leadership:
?Plague #1 Immortalitism
Known also as #Thirdtermism in countries where one has to amend the constitution to stay in power, this plague is widely disseminated in Africa by leaders who believe that they are meant to live forever and therefore, rule forever. In the case of Mugabe, one can only wonder how a 90-year-old man can in his right mind run for a new term in 2018, at the canonic age of 94. This plague seems to be disappearing, particularly since the fall of Burkina Faso?s President Blaise Compaor? last month . Many leaders who were expected to change the constitution in order to run again publicly stated since then that they no longer have plans to change the fundamental law of their countries.
?Plague #2 Conspirationism
Conspirationism can take many different aspects, but the most frequent one in Africa is usually ?the-CIA-wants-me-removed-and-is-plotting-with-my-opponents.? In francophone West Africa, it is Paris that is usually targeted, with French media correspondents being regularly expelled on charges of conspiracy. This plague is very contagious and can take a severe regional form, in which leaders convince their neighbors that a foreign enemy is targeting them, too. In fairness, it is widely shared throughout the world, especially in Latin America.
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