How did Robert Mugabe win the last election convincingly? 0

The multitudes turned up yesterday in great numbers in Harare to pay adoration to the man taking over as President of Zimbabwe from Robert Mugabe, Emerson Mnangagwa. After 37 years under a brutal despot, the people of Zimbabwe, can be forgiven for their colourful celebrations following the end of a bitter era.

From the happenings of the last week, one can only conclude that Robert Mugabe had virtually no support in his country. After the generals put him under house arrest over nine days ago, nearly all the MPs and rank and file of his own party, the Zanu-PF voiced their discontent with him and his failed policies. Even the influential war veterans spoke out vociferously against their comrade.

One question that comes to mind repeatedly over the last few days is how he managed to win the last elections so convincingly? In the the last election in 2013, Mugabe won 61% of the vote. That was a landslide victory. His Zanu-PF party also won 160 of the 210 seats in the national assembly. An astonishing result. In fact it is laughable that whilst western election observers were not allowed in the country, African Union had monitors in place during the last election and they said ‘‘the election could have been handled better, but that initial reports indicated a fair election had occurred’’.

Mugabe was his party’s candidate for next year’s general election in which he was expected to carry another landslide victory. These facts are beyond belief but true. How can a man who won elections so convincingly only four years ago and was expected to carry another landslide next year be so unpopular in such a short period of time? He made one grave error of judgement, sacking his vice president. Had he not done that trying to pave the way for his wife to succeed him, he still would have been president today.

The fact is that a sizeable majority of these ZANU-PF MPs, war veterans and party militants not forgetting the president-in-waiting were accomplices in Mugabe’s election rigging machinery. Why were they involved in such large scale deception and hence co-conspirators in ruining their country?

It’s unbelievable that until the generals stepped in last week with the world’s first ever coup-that-wasn’t-a-coup, on the surface Mugabe exerted great power and control. His notorious wife, Gucci Grace also wielded influence and openly and shamelessly conversed her ambitions to succeed her husband and all appeared normal.

This might be an eye-opener that in many countries, where the ruling party, clans and elites appear happy in public with their leader, it does teach us that they might be hiding a deep sense of melancholy underneath and will happily take the opportunity to kick them out when need arises.

By Asu Ashu Isong, London