Friday, 27 June 2008


By Gershom Ndhlovu

There is definitely something wrong with African leaders when they become presidents of their countries. They elevate themselves to the position next to God if not God himself.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s recent statement that he was appointed by God and it is only God who can remove him is as absurd as it is profane. “Even Romans 13 says leaders are appointed by God. I am an image of God who appointed me to my current position,” Mugabe is quoted as having said in Bulawayo last week.

We have seen this same thing in Zambia where presidents and their supporters have invoked the name of God to justify their stay in power or their actions and whoever disagrees with them is “committing” sin by “disobeying” God.

During President Kaunda’s reign between 1964 and 1991 there used to be the slogan “Kumulu Lesa, Panshi Kaunda” loosely translated as God in Heaven and Kaunda on Earth. That was as sacrilegious as it could ever get, really, but nay.

Along came President Chiluba who “entered” into a covenant with God when he embraced one of the pillars of State House (I was at that function) in December 1991 and declared Zambia a Christian nation. This, obviously, found its way in the 1996 Republican constitution.

But with what has emerged over the years and his frequent trips to police stations and courts of law, it is doubtful if that covenant was genuine or not on his part.

May be the Karl Marxian view about religion being the opium of the masses comes into play here. The nation was probably sent to sleep with the religious dope while Chiluba and is friends did what they are now answering for.

It has not been very different under the incumbent head of state when God is mentioned as having had a hand in “anointing” Mwanawasa as president of the country and anyone questioning some of his actions commits sin.

Ministers who probably cannot even recite the Lord’s Prayer on their own and have never stepped in Church save for weddings and funerals suddenly discover “God” when they are appointed and invoke Him when countering the president’s critics.

Dubious church leaders who want to pick the crumbs go to even greater lengths to dredge obscure Bible verses on God’s appointment of leaders and their authority.

There is never mention of elections with what goes with them—the bribery, the violence, chicanery and backstabbing—when one is voted into power. It is all praise and prayer thereafter.

But the case of Mugabe in which the man says he is an image of God, in my view, beats all the cases cited above. I think the god that the Zimbabwean leader mirrors who encourages murder, torture, rape and defiance of the people, not to mention blasphemy, is the Devil himself.

All democracy-conscious citizens know the term vox populi, vox dei—the voice of the people is God’s voice. Now, if one is an image of God, read people, and they say they don’t want you through the ballot, you just get your katundu and off you go. I am sure this is not the God that we know and read about in the Bible that Mugabe is talking about.

Mugabe who was brought up in the Catholic faith at Kutama Mission in the then Rhodesia should know better than taking God’s sacred name in vain let alone comparing himself with God which not even the Christ Jesus did when He walked the earth three millennia ago.

Imagine Foday Sankoh—that  nemesis of Sierra Leone not too long ago—maiming, raping and killing people in the name of God saying he had been sent by Him to “liberate” the people. The only difference between Mugabe and Sankoh is that the former as head of state has control of state machinery as head of state while Sankoh did not have.

Before Mugabe’s megalomania tips over to even claim God’s throne, the best place for him is a seat of shame at The Hague to answer for his crimes against humanity before the International

Court of Justice.



The reaction of the African Union to the unfolding crisis in Zimbabwe just goes on to show how moribund the organisation is to the needs of the 21st Century. The AU is anachronistically stuck in the 1963 induced catatonia of not interfering in the internal affairs of a member country even if, as Zimbabwe, it is tottering towards a precipice.

In its current state, the AU is comparable to a fire brigade which only reacts when there is a fire rather than to prevent one. A few days after the elections which Mugabe lost, a delegation from the AU went to the state house in Harare and the way some delegation members were bowing before the man, one knew they would not resolve the crisis.

There has not been a definite word from the AU chairman and Tanzanian president Jakaya Kikwete and the executive secretary Jean Ping.

Africa should have by now learnt the lessons of the Rwandan genocide which started in the same way the crisis is brewing in Zimbabwe. The argument for Zimbabwe of course is that it is a political rather than tribal conflict of the Hutu/Tutsi order.

It is a political crisis involving state police, military and security personnel who are stoking the fire with the help of ZANU-PF militias hiding under the war veterans label who, exactly like the Interahamwe of Rwanda, are hunting unarmed members of the opposition, maiming, raping and killing them. What else does the AU want to be jolted into action?

Is it not the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation and its sister media organisations, again like Rwanda’s Radio Mille Colline, which is spewing hate propaganda against the MDC and its supporters who in turn are being chased across the land like rabbits by a hungry fox?

How cursed can a continent like Africa be where political contests which in other parts of the world are just a normal game where losers and winners congratulate one another and carry on with their jobs, are  a matter of life, death and more misery?


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