Mugabe wins longevity war, but loses intenational image battle

May 31, 2011

Robert Mugabe has outwitted countless local and international foes to remain Zimbabwe's sole ruler for all 31 years of the country's independence.

If being called 'president' until death no matter what is the most important value to him, Mugabe has certainly 'won' over his many opponents. He continues to wield raw military power, but with little of the widespread respect he once also enjoyed at home and abroad.

Increasingly also, many actions on his behalf by his overall ruling structure simply make him look absurd. Just one of many examples is the story of the police officer who is said to be in trouble with his bosses for using a portable toilet that was designated for Mugabe at a trade fair he was to attend.

There did not appear to be any security issues of concern. It seems that the pressed policeman used the toilet without incident, and was arrested the next day for the unthinkable temerity to piss or take dump in the same place Mugabe was to do later. 

Mugabe cannot be personally be blamed for this ridiculousness, but it is hard not to fault him for the general environment in which he has come to be seen is a demi-god by his whole ruling apparatus. It works to deepen fear of him as probably intended, but it also deepens popular resentment, and in this case makes him look small and petty; the butt of unkind jokes.

One wonders if staying on in power for more than 30 years is worth it under such conditions.


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