Thursday, June 26, 2008



By Jerry Okungu
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
June 26, 2008

Robert Mugabe may not know it; but the last drums of war are beating in earnest. No system, no matter how brutal or noble lives forever. Finally the curtain falls on each one of them when the time comes. That was how in ancient times the Greek and Roman empires rose and fell. The same dictum raised Adolf Hitler, Julius Caesar, Napoleon Bonaparte, Mobutu and Idi Amin to greatness. However, when their time came, they all fell from grace to grass.

If you look at the characters I have mentioned above, they had one thing in common. They were men who earned their greatness in the battle field just like Robert Mugabe. The only exception was Adolf Hitler who was elected by Germans through a popular vote.

When Idi Amin removed Milton Obote of Uganda from power in 1971, the streets of Kampala were awash with celebrations. In Amin, they had seen the messiah who had saved them from a tyrant. Women, especially the Baganda danced their legs lame for Amin. On that day, Amin could have married any girl from any royal family.

Several years down the line, Ugandans slowly realized that they had celebrated too soon. The proverbial leap from the frying pan to fire had caught up with them. They soon realized that they had exchanged one ogre with a deadlier monster.

The murders and plunder in Uganda were beyond human imagination. Freedom, security and basic needs became a thing of the past. As Ugandans were massacred by the day, the world community turned a blind eye to all of Amin’s atrocities. The Organization of African Unity together with the then EAC adopted a policy of non- interference in the internal affairs of a member state. Had Nyerere not taken a unilateral decision to invade Uganda to protect Tanzanians from Amin’s aggressive designs, Idi Amin would have remained in power for a couple more years. He would have carried out his atrocities until there would have been no more soul to kill.

What happened to Uganda after Amin is a vital lesson for those planning to rescue Zimbabweans from Robert Mugabe’s regime. Following Amin’s flight into exile, Obote returned to power only to commit more atrocities. When Obote was finally overthrown a second time, many presidents were sworn in but they didn’t metal to stabilize Uganda. Binaisa, Lule and Okello tried their hands at the presidency without much success. The killings and plunder continued that culminated into another five year bush war led by Yoweri Museveni.

If the Ugandan lesson is not good enough; we may need to a draw parallel with what happened to Somalia after Siad Barre was toppled sixteen years ago. To date there has never been a steady regime in Mogadishu. Since then, many factions with respective warlords have waged war against one another with no end in sight.

What the SADDC and the AU members should bear in mind is that to stop Mugabe from massacring his own people, he must be toppled and tried for crimes against humanity either in The Hague or in Arusha.

But in doing so, let us remember that the power vacuum that Mugabe has consistently occupied for the last 28 years must be handled with care. If it isn’t, we will end up with Ivory Coast after Houghet Boigny, Liberia after Doe, DRC after Mobutu and Somalia after Barre. This is because there are potential warlords waiting in the wings to occupy the seat without the due process of the elections. It happened in DRC just the other day after Mobutu left the scene.

What the AU should realize is that if they decide to take Mugabe out as the Americans would say, the present MDC leader may not be the alternative or the answer. An all-inclusive caretaker transitional government must be put in place to run the country for at least five years with closer supervision of the AU and the UN forces to give the people of Zimbabwe time to return to normalcy. Rushing Morgan Tzvangirai to power will not solve the crisis in that country. It will only accelerate the return to the bush of many of Mugabe’s soldiers and fellow veterans for another round of bush war to protect what they have looted from their people over the years. Worse still, they will flee into the bush with all the weaponry they currently hold in their possessions.