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Of Mugabe’s Zimbabwe and Okorocha's Imo State, By Collins Ughalaa

By News Express on 28/11/2017

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•Okorocha and Mugabe
•Okorocha and Mugabe

But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days that were before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the Ark; and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be.” (Matthew 24:37-39).

On Tuesday, November 14, 2017, the whole world woke up to the news of military take-over of government in Zimbabwe, where 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe had been in charge for 37 years; since the British authority handed over the reins of power to the Zimbabweans in 1980. The four-decade reign of Mr Mugabe crippled the economic life of Zimbabweans, with inflation defying known mathematical and economics calculations. Zimbabweans have suffered widespread poverty and over 90 per cent unemployment under Mugabe.

Though many believe the situation in Zimbabwe is a military coup, the Zimbabwean Army, which placed their old leader under house arrest, says they did not carry out a coup. With Mugabe's wife, Grace, whom he married in 1996, abandoning him and running away, things have happened in quick succession for the old and fragile Mugabe.

Suddenly, Zimbabweans who hitherto were calm and seemed to support their president have got a voice, expressing their support for the ouster of the president. On Saturday, November 18, Zimbabweans defied the wet and cold weather and gathered at their High Commission in London, to celebrate the exit of Mugabe, sipping beer and whisky. At home, thousands of Zimbabweans flooded the streets of Zimbabwe and demanded Mugabe's resignation.

The ruling Zimbabwean African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) has also sacked Mugabe as their leader, with 24 hours ultimatum to resign as president, vowing to return to the streets. “We would expect that Mugabe would not have the prospect of the military shooting at the people, trying to defend him. The choice is his,” said head of Zimbabwe's Liberation War Veterans, Chris Mustvangwa, adding that they would “bring back the crowd if Mugabe fails to resign.” But, instead of accepting to resign, Mugabe had gone on hunger strike to protest his house arrest and vowing “to die for what is correct.”

 Born February 21, 1924, Robert Mugabe identified himself as a Marxist-Leninist in the 1970s and 1980s, and as a socialist in 1990s, with his policies described as Mugabeism.

While the world waits to see the resolution of the Zimbabwean impasse, there is need to draw the necessary lessons derivable from the Mugabe experience, because they share some striking similarities with Governor Rochas Okorocha’s administration in Imo State. This lesson is imperative in order to extricate our dear state from the grip of civilian dictatorship.

One: Like President Mugabe, Okorocha takes the feelings of the people for granted. It is earth-shattering and reassuring for any troubled polity to see that the people of Zimbabwe - who first tolerated Mugabe as a prime minister from 1980 to 1987 and as president afterwards in the midst of soul-crushing economy - would suddenly turn around to support and demand the ouster of Mugabe as president. Even the military that was adjudged Mugabe's strongest ally suddenly came to the rescue of Zimbabweans, by arresting the drift in the country and placing Mugabe in house arrest, in what has been described as a bloodless coup.

Since 2011, Okorocha has reigned like a fief in a fiefdom. He has seen himself as the colossus of Nero, so much that he no longer knows how the people feel about him. The governor would organise events and with hired crowd claim he is loved by the people. This fake love came to a crescendo during the governor's 55th birthday, during which he was presented with 27 cakes by the women of the 27 local government areas of the state. This is outside the well-arranged homage paid on the governor in turns by the LGAs, with mouth-watering birthday gifts.

Perhaps, the greatest misjudgment of the feelings of the masses was the governor's demolition of the Eke-ukwu Owerri (market) in August. The feelings of the people was expressed in their opposition to the demolition of the market, to the extent that the people went to court and obtained restraining order on the governor. But with the false thinking that he was working in the interest of the people, Okorocha went ahead to demolish the market, in defiance of court order, leading to fatalities.

It has become obvious to Imo people that Okorocha has gone out of sync with the people so much that he considers himself a god. In a public programme recently, he promised Imo people that he would send them the Holy Spirit. In another programme, he said that certain appointees of his government have been possessed of the Rochas spirit.

The consequence of taking the people for granted is demonstrated with the ouster of President Mugabe and the public support that has greeted it. The Mugabe meat will be fed to Okorocha in 2019, when Imo people will issue the red card to his party, because anyone who exalts himself will be abased. That is the word of God.

Two: Like Mugabe, Okorocha does not understand the limit of human wit and power. He believes he has become unchallengeable and unstoppable. He believes he can do anything and get away with it, including disobedience to court rulings and orders, disregard to rule of law or due process and accountability. But, as demonstrated in Mugabe's sad experience, Okorocha's payback in 2019 will be earth-shattering. It’ll reinforce the point that ultimate power belongs to the people.

Three: No political maneuvering was able to save the Zimbabwean president. Like Mugabe who was scheming to make his wife succeed him, Okorocha’s biggest political project seems to be his plot to make his son-in-law, Uche Nwosu, the next governor of the state in 2019. To achieve his aims, Mugabe removed his vice, Emmerson Mnangagwa, from office early November. Nicknamed ‘Gucci Grace’, due to her lavish lifestyle, Mugabe's wife, indicated interest to replace Emmerson as Zimbabwe's vice-president. This is believed to be the last straw that broke the carmel's back. Same way, Okorocha’s plot to make his son-in-law succeed him in 2019 will be the last straw that will complete break the patient cycle of the entire Imo populace.

Four: Like in Zimbabwe, poverty is widespread in Imo State and unemployment now hits the roof-top. While poverty ravages the state, the first family lives in opulence. The Daily Telegraph once reported that Grace Mugabe spent about $120,000 in one brief shopping spree in 2003 in Paris. In 2004, she was said to have withdrawn £5 million from the Central Bank of Zimbabwe. Similarly, the first Imo family swims in stupendous wealth to the point that all you need to be prosperous in the APC government is to marry the governor's daughter. Imo people now describe  Okorocha's government as My Family My Family Government, with painful disdain for the welfare of the citizenry.

In 2019, Imo people will find their voice again and express what could be the harshest political judgment of all time, as a way of taking back their manifest destiny from the jaws of their oppressors. This will wow everyone, but it will be the best action for the people to take back the state from a few, and make Imo work again.

•Collins Ughalaa writes from Owerri. He can be reached via

Source News Express

Posted 28/11/2017 1:19:45 PM


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