HARARE – A key member of a group of vanquished Zanu PF Young Turks called Generation 40 (G40) has told me that the current mood of Robert Mugabe veers from high spirits to embittered grumbling, describing a man who is scornful of the allies who abandoned him, angry at a military that prescribed a successor through the barrel of the gun, dismissive of the young protesters who pushed him out, and largely unrepentant for his 37 years in power.
“He feels betrayed,” said the G40 member who has visited Mugabe post-November 21, but spoke on condition of anonymity fearing opprobrium from the new elites.
The deposed president finds himself isolated, abandoned by allies and no one in the army willing to support him.
When the 93-year-old was fighting for his survival in a week of a high-stakes political game, there was no one to turn to, except calling for outside help through Sadc chairperson Jacob Zuma and a small coterie of aides who could do little more than help him record his defiant Sunday speech that became his waterloo.
In those remarks, he emotionally emphasised his electoral legitimacy — a topic that Mugabe reportedly repeatedly raised in the talks with the generals.
During meetings mediated by Catholic priest Father Fidelis Mukonori to discuss ways out of the crisis, Mugabe kept returning to the mandate he won in the 2013 balloting and the bumper crowd that came out to back him during the countrywide so-called presidential youth interface rallies, according to one of the officials.
But the military had already decided that Mugabe had to go, and the generals would not entertain any of the concessions that the president was prepared to make, including carting the first lady abroad.
On the surface, Mugabe wanted to give the impression that the government was conducting business as usual, and made a monumental mistake of attempting to convene Cabinet. Only three ministers and the attorney general pitched up. His Cabinet deserted him.
Impeachment proceedings then began in Parliament, and there was no opposition whatsoever to a directive to the ruling party’s parliamentary caucus from the party chief whip to overthrow the president.
Mugabe was stunned that he had lost support of his two-thirds majority in both houses of the chamber, including from senate chiefs he had just given over 200 cars.
There was no commotion and Mugabe went quietly. That late afternoon, Speaker Jacob Mudenda announced Mugabe’s resignation, sparking countrywide celebrations.
And with Zanu PF officials who were erstwhile allies of Mugabe seeing the end coming for the veteran ruler, bigwigs made a stunning volte face.
From Obert Mpofu, Kembo Mohadi, Sydney Sekeramayi who were vociferous in their push for a life presidency for Mugabe, deputised by his hated wife, Grace, they all started singing a different tune.
But ousted Zanu PF women’s league secretary for administration Letina Munamato Undenge, takes the cake after claiming that she was “used” by Grace Mugabe.
“I admit that I was blindly used by my boss,” Undenge told a Manicaland State newspaper.
The G40 member told me: “We were naive … We didn’t imagine betrayal would go this far.”
In our discussion, the bitter G40 member told me that Zanu PF members did not follow Mugabe as he was pushed out, and they certainly do not follow new President Emmerson Mnangagwa. Zanu PF members follow power, he said.
That is why the moment Mugabe lost power, they easily switched sides and dumped him for Mnangagwa, he explained.
He said they have no code of honour, no principles, no dignity and no shame. They believe in nothing, hold on to nothing but comfort and luxury. Comfort and luxury, that is what they believe in, he said. They will say anything and do anything that keeps them in comfort and luxury, that keeps them close to power. They deal in favour.
The G40 member killed me with his dog analogy.
“They are like dogs which follow whoever is throwing pieces of meat. Their loyalty is not to the person throwing the meat but the meat,” he told me.
He counselled that Mnangagwa would be a fool to believe anything coming from those who have declared truce with him and have gone on to denounce their former patron, Mugabe and his wife.
Some were Gamatox and when Gamatox fell they joined G40 against Lacoste and when G40 fell they joined Lacoste.
When Lacoste temporarily fell some pledged allegiance to G40 and when G40 went down, they returned to Lacoste.
“They stand at the avenues of politics, dressed to entice and attract power.
“Their loyalty and allegiance is for sale to whomever produces power. They will undress and bend over,” he said, tongue-in-cheek.