Zimbabwe: How has Mugabe managed to keep his tenacious hold on power so long?

By Eddy Montilla

Robert Mugabe

Until when?

To understand how President Robert Mugabe has led Zimbabwe to chaos, this simple question could be enough: How old are you? Because if you lived there and were around 54 years old, the current average life expectancy in this African country, among the lowest on Earth, your chances of being alive, and therefore, reading this article are slight.

     President Mugabe has governed Zimbabwe, a British colony until 1965, since its independence in 1980. His more than three decades in power has been a living hell because it’s difficult to imagine something worse than hunger, repression and death at early age. Zimbabwe is in the grip of AIDS. According to the International Monetary Fund, the gross annual domestic product per person is the second lowest in the world. Food is becoming scarce and many people have fled the country for fear of being killed. In the last presidential elections, the-89 year-old dictator got another dubious victory that will keep him as president for 5 more long years. And the question is, despite that, how has he been able to rule the country for so many years?

     The answer is thanks to Robert Mugabe’s delusions of grandeur, the military and to a lesser degree, opposition leaders’ mistakes.

     President Mugabe erroneously believes that his position entitles him to govern the country as a private farm. But such actions can only be carried out when you count on the highest ranking officers’ support in the armed forces. Dictators consolidate their power thanks to the military who brutally suppress people. In return, they can wear their uniform. This is the key: The longer a dictator remains in power, the longer his generals can wear their uniforms, and for them, this is the only thing that really matters, because generals are not afraid of being shot, but they tremble at the thought that they could return to civilian life.

     Opposition leaders, especially the leader of The Movement for Democratic Change, Morgan Tsvangirai, are vital to overthrow Mugabe because people in that nation don’t know how to dismantle the machinery of Mugabe’s government. Tsvangirai took part in a power-sharing government four years, but it’s hard to see what he did during this time to undermine Mugabe’s position. It seems that he went down the mountain, just when he was closer than never to reach the top of it.

     Zimbabwe is a country with a lot of touristic and economic potential. For example, Victoria Falls, and in the mining sector, the country has a wide range of mineral deposits, including significant reserves of diamonds, gold. It also holds the second largest reserves of platinum in the world. Zimbabwe deserves something better than an economy hobbled by a dictator.

This article was originally published in the digital newspaper WORLD AND OPINION with Eddy Montilla.

Copyright 2013 littlethings4all.wordpress.com. All rights reserved.

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