Under fire Masvingo Provincial Affairs Minister, Kudakwashe Bhasikiti, has added his voice to the chorus of Zimbabwean politicians who have described President Robert Mugabe as having the divine right to rule the Southern African country described by the International Crisis Group as a failing state.
A few days before the ruling Zanu-PF party Central Committee meets to give the president the power to appoint his deputies and the party chairman, Bhasikiti told VOA Studio 7 that Mr. Mugabe is a “king” and must be given the powers to appoint his deputies.
“I am the one who suggested in the party Politburo that President Mugabe be given powers to appoint his deputies. it will help to end factionalism in the party.”
Bhasikiti is one of only a few backers of a faction allegedly linked to Vice President Joice Mujuru, who has survived the purge that has claimed several party heavyweights, including Mrs. Mujuru ahead of the crucial party congress which begins Tuesday in the capital Harare.
Vice President Mujuru and Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa are alleged to be fighting to succeed an aging President Mugabe. Mujuru had the inside lane until President Mugabe sided with Mnangagwa.
But bootlicking President Mugabe is no guarantee that one will remain in the president’s favor. Party secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa, who is being isolated by Mr. Mugabe, once described him as a messiah.
“Mugabe is a messiah sent by the Almighty to lead Africa in general and Zimbabwe in particular to gain their land back, the best thing that has happened to the African continent.”
Another out of favor minister and party political commissar, Webster Shamu, said Mugabe was feared the world over because of his razor-sharp intelligence. “There is no president the world over who has degrees like President Mugabe. He is brainy and that’s why he is feared. You fought the liberation struggle for a long time and you should also rule for as long as you want,” Shamu said.
Party chairman Simon Khaya Moyo now being sidelined by Mugabe once described President Mugabe as a liberator who cannot be equaled. “His Excellency you are a liberator of unparalleled audacity. You are a useful and amazing leader and we pray to God to make you stronger and continue to lead us from the front.”
Last year Tourism Minister Walter Mzembi, who is also now in the cold allegedly sent a birthday message to Mugabe saying: “You are a pillar of tourism development in Zimbabwe, and many a times we are tempted to declare you a tourist attraction, a centre of tourism development.”
Shamu, Mutasa, Khaya Moyo and Mzembi are now being kicked out of influential party positions for allegedly plotting to assassinate President Mugabe in allegations that have not been substantiated.
These party officials join a long list of party leaders, dead and alive who have sought to elevate Mr. Mugabe to a divine status.
The late Harare mayor and Deputy Minister Tony Gara once described the president as "God's other son." the late Higher Education Minister Dr, Stan Mudenge described Mr. Mugabe as one of “Africa’s all-time greatest men”, saying even enemies of the veteran leader envied his “encyclopedic” memory, wisdom and courage.
Not to be out done, current Zanu PF director of information Psychology Maziwisa posting on his Facebook page last year said Mugabe is no Jesus Christ, but he shares the same vision as Christ.
“President Mugabe is no Jesus Christ, but the constant persecution which he has suffered for standing for what is right brings him closer to Christ,” said Maziwisa.
In Shakespeare’s Macbeth, the character Malcolm describes the magical healing powers of the king: “Tis call'd the evil: A most miraculous work in this good king; Which often, since my here-remain in England, I have seen him do. How he solicits heaven, Himself best knows: but strangely-visited people, All swoln and ulcerous, pitiful to the eye, The mere despair of surgery, he cures, Hanging a golden stamp about their necks, Put on with holy prayers: and 'tis spoken, To the succeeding royalty he leaves The healing benediction. With this strange virtue, He hath a heavenly gift of prophecy, And sundry blessings hang about his throne, That speak him full of grace”
According to the BBC, the idea that a monarch could heal with his touch flowed from the idea that a king was sacred, appointed by God and above the judgment of earthly powers. It was called the Divine Right of Kings. The idea resided deep in the culture of 17th century Britain.
In 2009 when the government of national unity was formed, Mr. Mugabe’s backers instructed the state-controlled media that they should refer to him as, “Head of State, Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Defense Forces” whenever a report is made.
The aim of this move was to render powerless the office of then Prime Minister and rival, Morgan Tsvangirai, who according to the global political agreement was supposed to be the head of government as he was overseeing state business and policies.
But Zanu-PF youth affairs secretary Absalom Sikhosana went a step further suggesting that Mr. Mugabe should assume the grand title “Conqueror of the British Empire” from the late former president of Ugandan, Idi Amin Dada.
Idi Amin Dada had several titles to his name and was often referred to as “His Excellency President for Life, Field Marshal Al Hadji Doctor Idi Amin, VC, DSO, MC, Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Sea, and Conqueror of the British Empire in Africa in General and Uganda in Particular.”
Addressing ruling party supporters in Marondera, Mashonaland East Province to celebrate Mr. Mugabe’s birthday, Sikhosana said to Mugabe: “You are the SADC deputy chairperson and also the African Union deputy chairperson. I know of people with titles like Idi Amin Dada who gave himself the title Conqueror of the British Empire, but we celebrate the birthday of the genuine Conqueror of the British Empire.”
He added, “They tried one after the other, but failed, we thank you for the manner that you have superintended over affairs of the country and the continent.”
The Mugabe praise-singing is not confined to his political party only. Even religious leaders have described him as more than a mere mortal.
Apostolic Christian Council of Zimbabwe leader Johannes Nyamwa-Ndanga, told his followers that “Mugabe is our king and kings are not elected, they are installed by God,” he said.
Renegade former Anglican Bishop Nolbert Kunonga described Mugabe as a biblical prophet. “As the church we see President Mugabe with different eyes. To us he is a prophet of God like Moses, who was sent to deliver the people of Zimbabwe from bondage and hunger.”
Medieval political theorists came up with the doctrine that kings’ right to rule came from God, and that monarchs were answerable to him alone, not earthly institutions or people.
Information Minister Jonathan Moyo whose on-off-again relationship with Zanu-PF and Mugabe is legendary once regarded such comparisons of President Mugabe with Jesus as something the head of state and government encourages to exert authority in the party.
At 90, President Mugabe is currently the oldest African leader and oldest president in the world. Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Perez is the oldest leader at 91, but he is a ceremonial president.
But how has Mr. Mugabe survived for more than three decades? His critics say like the Machiavellian politician he is, the Zimbabwean ruler has survived through divide and rule tactics and has not hesitated to use the scotched earth policy to eliminate his enemies.