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Former Zimbabwe President, Robert Mugabe pictured with then first lady, Grace Mugabe.

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Written By Colin Essamuah - I have been enjoying the arguments swirling around since the complicated political dance initiated by the Zimbabwean military last week Wednesday to get rid of one of the longest-serving leaders in the world, President Robert Gabriel Mugabe.

Finally, last Tuesday afternoon Ghana time, the 93-year-old African remnant of the Cold War which ended in 1991, and with it the eventual democratisation of much of the African polity, including our own country Ghana, faded into history as a former President by resigning.

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For Ghanaians who recall their own history since independence in 1957, this is probably what the French meant by the phrase déjà vu.

Yes, we have been here in various guises, in our own political history. Especially since President Mugabe has very strong personal ties to our country, his first deceased wife being Ghanaian, whom he met when he was working in Ghana from 1958 to the early 1960s.

Click for more stories and articles on Zimbabwe and Robert Mugabe

He had come to our country principally to taste for himself and feel what a free Black African country newly independent from White rule was like.

His role model had always been our own President Kwame Nkrumah, to the extent that the symbol of his political party is the cockerel, the same as the Convention People’s Party (CPP) of President Nkrumah.

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But the story of Zimbabwe and President Mugabe is not the only one which has attracted my attention this week. I have also been struck by another event in neighbouring Kenya.

The Kenyan Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the re-run presidential elections ordered by the same court which annulled the first one is valid and the election of President Uhuru Kenyatta was upheld.

There are so many interesting angles to this story which began years ago, plunged the country into electoral violence and finally silenced the crude noisemakers in the Kenyan political space and elsewhere.

I note with some amusement that Kenya and Senegal, plus one or two others, are the only African countries which have not had military interventions in their political histories.

There must be a story there which echoes the story of Zimbabwe next door.

Now back to Zimbabwe. The arguments and discussions swirling around the news of the events leading to the unexpected resignation of President Mugabe reveal a lot about our confusion and pointless and empty rejection of our own experiences in this country.

Most of these discussions are self-serving, romanticised views of our own past.

Those claiming to be against military interventions of any kind conveniently block out the fact that the two principal parties in Ghana, the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), both exist today courtesy of coups which are part and parcel of our own past.

Being against coups is, thus, meaningless because they are shock events precipitated by specific prior events.

That is not an argument for legitimacy but for what has happened, not for what one wished had happened. That is not history but romanticism.

Many on the left and right in Ghanaian and African politics actually believe that President Mugabe has a right to be President of Zimbabwe and it must be respected by Zimbabweans.

Nobody in this world has a right to be President of anything.

What is the foundation of that so-called right? In spite of what our own Supreme Court implied repeatedly in the Abu Ramadan versus the Electoral Commission cases last year, I do not believe a right exists for anybody to be President of Ghana.

Thirty seven years in uninterrupted power, it is obvious to me that the route of that authority, in this case elections, has been so badly compromised to make it unlikely realistically, to be an accurate instrument for divining the political will of Zimbabweans.

 It is an abuse of constitutionalism because it conveniently ignores the absence of real competition, options in platforms or ideologies and personalities and the general air of freedom in which that right is exercisable.

African liberation hero story

This particular argument of constitutionalism actually takes its life from the other porous and unsustainable argument that having fought against colonial rule and founded Zimbabwe, he somehow has a right to lead.

But we cannot thank such heroic leaders forever? Why must we? And even more telling, independence and nation building and development, whether political or socio-economic, are very different concepts needing very different mutually exclusive leadership skills.

The African liberation hero story is a useless myth in 2017. Dissent, political or otherwise, cannot be treason.

Arguing otherwise is a rejection of the multiparty system we are enjoying and which allows, nonetheless, the ventilation of uncongenial views. 
Zimbabwe became independent in April 1980 when I was in first year in university and when arguably the majority of Zimbabwean voters were not born, just like in Ghana.

I do remember it was then Vice-President Professor J.W.S de Graft-Johnson who led the Ghanaian delegation to the Zimbabwean independence celebrations.

It was also the first time the Reggae star Bob Marley came to Africa to perform, and he dramatically began wailing his song war right on the tarmac at Harare Airport to rapturous excitement.

The iconic song was an adaptation of the speech by Emperor Haile Sellasie to the League of Nations in 1935 following the Italian conquest of Ethiopia. Pure epiphany.

But a more fundamental issue for those of us interested in the anti-colonial variations of this Mugabe story is, who is an African? What is Pan-Africanism? If all African countries were the creations of external imperialists, why is keeping them together a necessary political virtue?

In our own time, we have seen Ethiopia separated from Eritrea, Czech Republic split from Slovakia, Yugoslavia dismembered and even neighbouring Nigeria labouring under the throes of latent secession.

President Mugabe had no excuse murdering thousands of his countrymen after independence with his notorious now-disbanded Kim-Il-Sung inspired Fifth Brigade under the all-purpose explanation of an anti-imperialist and anti-colonial struggle.

Majority of African intellectuals conveniently forget that their specific political ideas were European intellectual imports. Defending the harsh, uncompromising politics of President Mugabe is refusal to acknowledge that we all have come a long way in our political evolution.

It is very good for the people of Zimbabwe that he has resigned. We must begin somewhere in Africa to let the world know that liberation politics cannot be an excuse for misgovernment. The victims are also African.

 

Source: graphic.com.gh

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