Mugabe’s fall predicted

KEN YAMAMOTO: What you didn’t know

NewsDay by Ken Yamamoto

23 November 2017

What is also not well known is that the faction generally known as G40, had assigned oversight of Zimbabwe’s intelligence service, CIO, to Jonathan Moyo, cutting off the appointed minister, one Kembo Mohadi.

Elements within the CIO favoured Moyo with a lot of information on former Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, that was designed to get him arrested.

My Precise Prediction

On 9 August 2016, I penned an article entitled “Five Reasons why President Robert Mugabe will be gone in 12 months”. You can find the article here:

This is what I said:

“But as I argue here, his days are numbered. He is finished. He will not be President of Zimbabwe by end of 2017 at the very least…”

I further wrote that:”

When you are a national leader and the only arrow left in your quiver is to summon crowds – voluntarily or otherwise – to check if they still love you every four weeks, you are finished! As the economy gets worse and worse, more supporters will peel off Mugabe’s political onion much faster than ever before and his reign will crumble like a deck of cards. Yet the ‘young turks’ within the party are not oblivious to this reality. They smell blood and are circling around him like vulture.
He is literally a sitting duck.”

In line with prediction, Mugabe fell this Tuesday, before December 2017, marking 21 November as an important day for Zimbabweans, perhaps better described as the advent of a new era in that country. My prediction was informed by years of analysis of various political and economic dynamics on the African continent. I did not dream about it. Rather, all the relevant factors were meshing nicely into the conditions necessary for the disGRACEful exit of the ageing and beleaguered President. But, part of my assessment was actually informed by this Japanese proverb – sarumokikaraochiru – which means even monkeys fall from trees.

It did not have to be this way

Mugabe disGRACEd himself. He is entirely to blame. It did not have to end this way. It’s really a matter of luck, GRACE, and opportunity when one is chosen by the people as leader. It’s not really a matter of destiny. Rather it’s an opportunity to serve. But then, servant leadership is a very tricky concept in many African countries. What I have concluded is that most African leaders seem to think that when they become leaders of their nations, it’s become their destiny, and it is that misleading notion that stops them from appreciating the reality that leaders must come and go. This is true not only of Zimbabwe, but many other countries like South Africa, Burundi, Uganda, Kenya, DRC and Cameroon.

In Uganda, as in Cameroon and as was the case in Zimbabwe, rulers quickly get so engrossed in ruling instead of leading, so much that their daily, monthly and annual schedules are so full of political scheming, scamming and other forms of intrigue. While so enmeshed in this, they forget why they are in those positions in the first place. Over time, they become directionless, killing the people’s hopes and dreams in the process. Sadly, instead of championing innovation around the people’s problems, they become great innovators of political chicanery and deception. It helps them for a while, but in the end, they become victims of their own creative destruction.

For Mugabe, it didn’t have to end this way. He was as stubborn as a mule. He would mock anyone who advised him otherwise. Anybody with contrary views to his was against his destiny, he must have thought. But as Stephen Chan once suggested, Robert Mugabe was going to be silenced by his own party and change was going to be engineered into Zimbabwe by his party, Zanu PF. This is exactly what happened. The story has been well-written and well spun across the globe, keeping billions of observers glued to their TV screens. The outcome: Mugabe has been dragged out of office kicking and screaming, in absolute disGRACE.

What he should have done, back in the 90s, was to identify young and promising talent within his party, allow them to exhibit their talents and flourish, announce his retirement, and let democracy select the best to lead the people. It is the hallmark of great leaders to also groom great leaders. Great leaders must groom other leaders. But Mugabe would never allow anybody to shine. His narcissistic character did not allow that to happen. His nature was easily discernible from the mantra he pushed down the hierarchy of his party – strange concepts like the “one centre of power” mantra.

I even laughed another time reading about one Zanu PF zealot who claimed that the sun cannot rise until another sun has set. These are extremely strange notions in today’s globally-influenced political constructions. Unfortunately, Mugabe’s power-mongering concepts collapsed on him like a domino, and he will go down in history as the fellow that was whipped softly into resignation by his own generals. It’s really embarrassing.

The back story

Jonathan Moyo

Some things are functions of fate. Emmerson Mnangagwa and his sympathizers did not really intend to take power in the manner they did. As I understand it, they did their best to wait for their turn. But events were triggered and accelerated by dramatic twists of fate. One of them was Mugabe’s sponsorship of a faction of a bunch of power-mongers, led by his wife Grace. One of them, Jonathan Moyo, I described in my article as an under-achieving incompetent who is all froth and no beer, all sizzle and no steak, all hat and no cowboy!

While their designs successfully led to Mnangagwa’s dismissal as Vice President, the reader needs to understand that many hours before his firing, many players within Mugabe’s government tried to create rapprochement between Mnangagwa and his former boss. These people understood that Grace Mugabe despised Mnangagwa for not acknowledging what she believes is groundbreaking industry and philanthropic work in the Mazoe farming area, north of Harare.

After Mugabe threatened to fire Mnangagwa at a rally in Bulawayo, the interlocutors managed to convince the parties that Mnangagwa visiting Grace’s orphanage would help build relations between them. Apparently, Grace Mugabe craves recognition for her work. She is known to have attacked the government-controlled media for not covering her activities in Mazoe and, weeks later, one of the daily papers ran a sponsored section on her activities.

All the parties reached an understanding that Mnangagwa would visit the Mazoe operations. The problem became the extremely ambitious power mongers behind Grace Mugabe’s faction. Ignatius Chombo, talked her out of the rapprochement plan and, hours later the next day, Mnangagwa was fired.

It is important to note that Chombo, who shocked many by rising to the position of finance minister, a role he is very ill-equipped for, had far more presidential ambitions than colleagues in his faction were aware of. This is partly why he had his own private armed security that shot back at soldiers when they arrived at his house to apprehend him. This is how the rapprochement between Mnangagwa and Grace Mugabe was scuttled. This is how fate intervened to create the current outcome.

It is well-known that Mnangagwa slipped Zimbabwe through Mozambique. What is not well known is what could have happened had he not bolted. What is also not well known is that the faction generally known as G40, had assigned oversight of Zimbabwe’s intelligence service, CIO, to Jonathan Moyo, cutting off the appointed minister, one Mohadi. Elements within the CIO favoured Moyo with a lot of information on Mnangagwa, that was designed to get him arrested.

Had Mnangagwa been arrested, that was going to be his waterloo, and his life would have ended while in incarceration. Arrest wasn’t just going to be Mnangagwa’s fate. It was also going to be Constantino Chiwenga’s fate. When Mnangagwa was fired, Chiwenga who was in China was tipped by military intelligence, which became his saving grace. He was supposed to be arrested on arrival and suffer the same fate as Mnangagwa.

Postponing the inevitable

Happyton Bonyongwe

The military takeover in Zimbabwe was not one of those cloak-and-dagger type events. It was announced in advance. The moment the Zimbabwean military announced their plan, Mugabe should have seen his end and given up. But he kept digging in. For the first time in his long career, he found himself on the back-foot against his erstwhile partners. In Japanese informal lingo, we describe people like him as “kuuki yomenai”, which means they can’t read the air. Had Mugabe read the air on time, he would have managed the situation better than he did. But again, that’s fate, it had to work that way to end Mugabe’s rule.

The role of Happyton Bonyongwe in delaying the inevitable is little known. Bonyongwe was there when the negotiations between the military and their commander-in-chief took place. He was also there when Mugabe read a speech that was expected by many to be his resignation announcement, but turned out to be bottled air.

Bonyongwe held Mugabe’s resignation letter for days. The two of them hoped that fortunes would turn around. As his party turned against Mugabe, and parliament moved to impeach him, Bonyongwe had Mugabe’s prepared resignation later, just in case. And, as it turned out, when all else had failed, he was forced to hand it over to the Speaker of Zimbabwe’s parliament, bringing about the disGRACEful end Mugabe’s political career.

Going forward

When all is said and done, the universe conspires with the people’s hopes and aspirations to deliver some form of change. The people of Zimbabwe have a chance to turn things around. The good news is that if Mnangagwa takes over, like Magufuli in Tanzania, he has prior knowledge of what needs fixing immediately to achieve rapid change and deliver some quick wins. The bad news is that he has some baggage of his own. But no-one is without weakness.

Zimbabweans now need to use the opportunity fate has provided to rekindle their dreams and build a better country, a country that not only attracts international capital, but also attracts the best talent the world can provide. It’s been done elsewhere before. Japan, Dubai, Singapore, China Malaysia and many other countries have done it. It’s a new era and a new chance – use it wisely.

Above all, politicians will be politicians everywhere. Zimbabwean people must be vigilant and keep the new government in check to ensure the progress anticipated is not only achieved, but citizens freedoms and aspirations are achieved.

Sayonara (good bye) and ganbatte kudasai (best wishes).

Ken Yamamoto is a research fellow on Africa at an Institute in Tokyo. He researches and travels frequently in Africa. Email your views to