It was predictably depressing to see Robert Mugabe’s first televised reactions to the Zimbabwean election. We don’t cheat, he said – flapping his hands in a weirdly disjointed, faintly camp movement. But, as for the opposition, he shook his head sorrowfully, “lots of irregularities”.
I often wonder, on such occasions, what is really going on inside the head of a dictator like Mugabe. This, after all, is the man who has terrorised opposition politicians and merrily rigged elections for years. Is he just utterly cynical; or does he, at some level, believe what he is saying?
If he were purely cynical, I suppose his internal voice would be saying something like: “Sure, I used to be a freedom fighter. But now I’m rich and powerful, and I have way too much to lose by stepping down from power. So I’ll do whatever it takes – including murder – to stay in power. And who cares what happens to the country, it’s all about me now.”
That, actually, is what I think it does basically come down to: personal enrichment, personal survival, personal pride – and screw the country. Read more