At 93, Robert Gabriel Mugabe has been ruling Zimbabwe for 37 years. Until last week, Mugabe was stuck to power like a tick on a dog’s back. Then, his very trusted goons in military fatigues turned up with their smoking guns, practically converting the old man to an “unwilling guest” of the State House which he has freely inhabited for 37 years. The freedom fighter had, over the years, allowed the sweet, intoxicating wine of power to leave his stomach for his head. All because of a woman and the groveling sycophants, who flattered and prodded him on to [despite his diminishing faculties and frail physique] contest the presidential election due for 2018.
First lady, Grace Ntombizodwa, originally from Gauteng, South Africa started off as Mugabe’s typist while still married to an Air Force pilot. She started an intimate affair with the president in the early nineties. In 1996 she officially married her boss, 41 years older than Grace. Reputed to be a bad influence on Mugabe, Grace manipulated the old man into doing her bidding.
It was to culminate in the sacking of Mugabe’s hitherto trusted Vice President, Emerson Mnangagwana. The ultimate intention was to render the position vacant for Grace to occupy and eventually replace her ailing husband who, from every indication planned and hoped to die in power. The doting Mugabe fell for it. All advice to the contrary fell on Mugabe’s old, deaf ears. The nagging Grace, through her old hussy had grabbed too much for Zimbabweans not to notice.
Mugabe would not be admonished into stepping aside for someone more competent than his overly ambitious wife. Then, like the legendary Humpty Dumpty, the old man had a great fall and shattered to ribbons. Like the proverbial fly that refused to take advice, he followed the corpse into the political grave.
The story sounds like Mr. Mugabe’s “Grace before the euphemistic meal of political doom.” But it is certainly a big lesson for dictators and others who lie, cheat and steal; who rape democracy and cling to office.
Can Cameroon and its leadership learn from Mugabe’s ill fate? We put this question to our teeming readers. Their responses would definitely serve as notice to sit-tight rulers and fawning sycophants that place banana peels on their paths and flatter them to step on…
Any lessons for Cameroon from Zimbabwe?
The fire in Zimbabwe is fanned by the British
You must start by distinguishing between the behaviour of those in Zimbabwe and those here. We are said to be a bilingual country where French is dominant and English is on the back seat; that’s one serious problem. In Zimbabwe it is either English or Swahili. The mentality here is very different from theirs. There is this clash between the Anglophones and the Francophones and we have a system that has been deliberately put in place where, the Francophones have a huge edge over the Anglophones; you do not have that in Zimbabwe. In Zimbabwe it is just a simple tussle between political parties.
Although I accept democracy, Robert Mugabe fought so much for that country for donkey years. Even if it is against democracy, let’s give it to him as a gift because the truth about it is, by the time he was fighting this war, a lot of people did not understand until the day he was interviewed; the ordinary Zimbabwean had nothing but one white had 15, 20 farms, whereas the black man does not have even one farm and that is why he grabbed lots of farms and gave them to the black man.
This fire is being fanned by the British. They had tried every time to get that old man out. But the Zimbabweans are very sensible; what they have done from the declaration we are hearing, is not a coup d’état as such. They haven’t thrown the man out, taken over power and gotten him into prison. They have kept him cool in his house as an old man and they are trying to sort out their issues. But I think if his assistant, the Vice President who was sacked could be brought back in and peace established, Mugabe will reign until the day dies.
I cannot say such a thing can never happen in Cameroon but we can learn a lesson from Zimbabwe. For example, in Zimbabwe, with rioting, how many people have been thrown into prison? But see how many are imprisoned here for just asking for what is their right. I have always said, if you have a migraine (permanent headache) and in a show of bravado with friends, you say let’s go and have a drink, after all, I don’t have a headache, that headache can never go away. The only way it can go away, is, go see your doctor, let him examine you and prescribe medication.
The situation in Cameroon has and is radicalizing many young Cameroonians. If you have a child who has never been villain but finds out that he is hungry whereas, his other brothers are not hungry… He comes to you and asks for his own food; you keep pretending as if you have forgotten, then in the end, you say, ‘ok, you are really hungry, I will see what to do. You pinch little morsels and give him, but will not give his full meal. In the end, that child becomes radical. Sort out his problem before it is too late; because the child will say, ‘what do I have to loose? When I was quiet, they were troubling me, so if I get troublesome, we shall all be in the same trouble.
80-Year-Old Retired Engineer and Former Delegate of Transport – Buea
Biya should leave power gently, the same way he got it
If the situation in Zimbabwe happens in Cameroon, it will mean it is divine intervention because Zimbabweans have more of the Englishman mentality – to fight for a commonwealth unlike the case of Cameroon where, the majority Francophones are self-centred like the French. It will be difficult because, our leaders, but for some few are all thinking of personal gains and not the general interest.
But I will advise that let our Government learn at least something from Zimbabwe; that they can’t reign forever. Let the President be honourable enough to leave power gently, the same way it was given to him.
Anonymous, Businessman – Buea
It’s possible in Cameroon
Following the trends of things in Cameroon, I think it is a possibility that CPDM is dominating and has been the ruling party for long. Individuals have power over institutions. We are in a complete dictatorship. Given that Paul Biya has been in power for 35 years and his Zimbabwean counterpart has been for 37, I think that the next point of stop in chasing these African power drunk leaders is Cameroon.
Calistus Konda, Teacher-Bamenda
Our military is too loyal
I do not see that happening in Cameroon any time soon. The Cameroon military has over the years distanced itself from the people. I think they are being trained in school only to respect the commander in chief, Paul Biya. They are just too loyal to him and in turn they are well paid and on time. They are trained in one language and that’s the language of their master. I do not see that soon in Cameroon.
Sabina Fai-trader Bamenda
Biya would not allow
President Paul Biya is constantly creating different segments of the army to avert such a thing in Cameroon. He makes sure they are not united. Tell me why put in place a special group known as ‘presidential guard and the BIR’ when we are not at war with our neighbours if not of solidifying grip in power?
Tomoh Sandra- Uba student
It’s possible for Biya to suffer Mugabe’s fate
The truth is, they both have stayed in power and have been dictatorial in their leadership. What I know is that what has happened in Zimbabwe was unexpected and it has sent a strong signal to Cameroon. So as it stands, the Government is in panic and if something is not done fast, I see a similar situation happening in Cameroon. I spoke to my friend who is an army. He disclosed to me that they too are tired of the situation. They wish a war should break out that’s when the president will know he has no army because they are tired of him. So you see, when a military friend can disclose such to a civilian, then you should expect nothing less from what is happening next door.
Primus Mukete, Animal Farmer- Kumba
Coup not impossible in Cameroon
You see, a coup in Cameroon like what’s happening in Zimbabwe now is far reaching. Though not impossible, but I think the Cameroonian army is more of Francophones and as such they are more local to their Francophones president of the Republic who is the Commander-in-Chief. Again, the situation of the two countries though similar in terms of long stay in power, our Cameroon president is not dismissing people from power, especially those of opposition that could stir up trouble but instead he is trying to bring more opposition to power in a bid to solve the problem.
Nani Victory, Teacher – Kumba
I don’t want to compare the two countries
I like what happened in Zimbabwe and will even be happier if same could happen in Cameroon. What I am more concerned with is liberation of Southern Cameroonians and a coup will certainly not bring that because the army is dominated by Francophones and since they don’t even want us to separate, they can’t attempt that. But just to say that if Cameroon was a united country, then a coup would be best in removing the dictator from power.
Anonymous – Kumba
All heads of security units are President’s henchmen
Zimbabwe and Cameroon are two different countries; while in Zimbabwe the control that the President has over the military is somewhat loose. Here in Cameroon, we have a feeling that the President and his men have completely strode up the system. They have tightened up the system. If you observe very keenly, you will realize that all heads of security units belong more or less to a tribe I will not like to name here, but I think everybody understands. In Yaounde and even in the peripheries when you observe, you will realize that they are the President’s henchmen and even his tribesmen. I believe our own military here is not so patriotic. They are a kind of Bourgeoisie – they feed fat, they spend time not thinking about the people. They are more concerned about the preservation of the regime since they benefit so much from it. Even though it is not impossible, it is very unlikely.
Teguia Isidore, Teacher – Buea
A successful coup would be difficult in Cameroon
Since the first attempt failed in the earlier years of his reign, the president has successfully manipulated his military to and extent that it is difficult for them to stand against him. But God is doing a natural overthrow for Cameroon. God is already showing signs and I hope they are wise enough to understand that. Why do you think of all buildings, fire consumed the National Assembly building? Time alone will prove all that. Apostle Praise – Kumba
I don’t think it can be replicated in Cameroon
The two contexts are different, though with some traces of similarity. Recent actions of the Zimbabwean President have indicated that he is preparing his succession. Unfortunately, all indicators pointed to his wife after he sacked the VP; this is the situation that I believe triggered the reaction of the military.
However, the Zimbabwean army demonstrated maturity and professionalism by respecting the republican role of the military. No civilian was shot (not even those they wanted to arrest), no building destroyed, no economic activities and freedom of movement halted. The military acted with one voice.
Most Cameroonians still remain unaware of the situation of their country, be it political, social or economic.Those who even are aware of the situation are simply cowards and toothless bulldogs that will bark but cannot dare bite. They will grumble and stay and blame God for their fate.
Also, the socio-cultural diversity of the country makes it very complex to ascertain who can be an enemy at one time. The multiplicity of lobbies – spiritual, professional, economic, cultic, has accentuated the conflict of ideas so much so that everyone is fighting to protect the little they have achieved.
Additionally, the quality of our military recruits appears to be preoccupying. Such a peaceful revolution can become very bloody with the kind of mindset our soldiers have.
All in all, the situation in Cameroon cannot be given a clear cut interpretation because of its complex context.
There is a great possibility that it never happens in Cameroon or if it does, the magnitude may be beyond understanding.
Richard Deng – Yaounde
Not from a military trained by Biya and cohorts
I doubt if our military can do what their Zimbabwean colleagues recently did. These guys are so cowardly they have no brains of their own. They are brainwashed to protect the powers that be to their last blood drop. That tells you they can’t bite the finger that feeds them nor dare rise against their “gods.” Let’s forget such a thing can come from Cameroon. Not from the military trained by Biya and his cohorts.
Rudolf Esuka, Yaounde
He should not announce his candidature for 2018
It is very possible that the circumstances that have befallen Mugabe can befall Biya. When you look at the current crisis in Cameroon, (lately we heard General Ivo – Chief Commander of the presidential guards is nowhere to be found and they are looking for him.) if a General of that magnitude can leave the Presidency, it means there is a high probability that the military can turn against their boss. They can just turn around, put him under house arrest and tell him to step down.
If I were to advise our president, I will just tell him to step down and give another person the chance. He should not announce his candidature for 2018, even though the people whom he is feeding, CPDM are saying he should go ahead. In order to spare himself the disgrace of power leaving him, he should step down. Zimbabwe is an African country and there is a probability that it can happen here. Let him learn his lessons and start clearing his way out. President Biya was wise when he came to power and decided to declare himself Commander of the Armed Forces. He did that because he knew that to an extent, the actual power lies with the military and they can decide at any time to ask him to step down.
Even though he is from the majority ‘Francophone’ extraction of the country, many of them are not happy with the way he is maltreating Anglophones. And even some of the Francophones have their own grievances too despite all what he is doing to favour them as Francophones. Besides, the Head of State should step down because scientifically, there is a certain age which when you attain, you start reasoning and behaving like a child.
Daniel, TV Correspondent – Buea
Foreign nations have roles to play
We cannot say that what happened to Mugabe will happen to our president. They are not too identical; the countries are not the same, the scenarios are not the same. I don’t know why they held President Mugabe but I think it is more political and I think in political game, you cannot say what happened to ‘A’ will happen to ‘B.’ I am not a politician but behind what we see and are analyzing physically, is actually not what it is.
Foreign nations too have parts to play. We all know the west has not been a fan to Mugabe because he is not the type that appreciates them. Sometimes he even abuses them in UN assemblies and they have been looking for every opportunity to bring him down.
I cannot tell if they are the ones responsible for what is going on in Zimbabwe. What I know is that, for instance, we have the Anglophone crisis and our leaders fighting may make us the common people to understand that they are fighting because this or that is not there. But if you look at the hidden political agenda of it, there might be some forces and that is what I don’t know and cannot determine how strong or weak those forces are. I don’t know the strength of my president; I don’t know how much he can withstand.
I am an Anglophone and what I can advise our president is simple. Whatever is going on is not a difficult task to handle; it is just because of so much greed; seriously, I am not advocating for separation because I don’t see that as a solution. The better option is federation. The problem is the way the Government sees it. If we keep our greed aside, the country will progress.
Stanley, Engineer – Buea
I wish it could happen
Wow. Nice question. I wish it could happen but, it is impossible. Some say impossibility is not Cameroonian but, this would be a tough nut to crack. The guys are not united. Everyone has their interest and would fight to protect it. Some people can be for a coup while others are not. Trust me that those who are not would sell their colleagues for favours from the big man. That is the way it is, so, let’s forget it.
Angela Nlon, Teacher – Yaounde
A coup can never succeed in this country
Too much greed. If the 1984 failed just know none will ever succeed. First and foremost, our army kills the people they should be protecting, very different from what we witnessed in Zimbabwe. Our own military have been trained to protect the oppressor against the harmless oppressed. How do you expect them to overthrow their President? And even if it happened by miracle, they will begin fighting on who should become president. The Northerners will want the presidency just like the Southerners. I know how greedy we are, so it cannot even happen.
Ekane Cornelius – Yaounde
Compiled by Nester Asonganyi, Ebune Relindise, Jean Marie Ngong Song, Ngende Esther & Claudia Nsono