Mugabe’s Humpty Dumpty moment

IN probably the worst movie of the year The Interview, there is a scene where fictional North Korean leader is being interviewed by an American TV host.

He begins to cry, confesses he had a problem with his father and listens to “girly music”. In just that one scene people of that country realise that their leader is not as invincible as they thought and is just as human as they are.

I remembered this scene when President Robert Mugabe fell and with it came great mirth and hundreds of Internet memes to accompany it.

For many Zimbabweans, Mugabe’s fall reminded them that he was not invincible and infallible after all and was human like the rest of them.

President Robert Mugabe

President Robert Mugabe

A number of people have opined that it was wrong to laugh at Mugabe because he is an “elder” and invoked the undefined philosophy of ubuntu.

For years Mugabe and his supporters have tried to tell us that his age is not an issue and he is “fit as a fiddle”, but now that he has taken a tumble, suddenly his supporters believe laughing at an elder is wrong.

Hardly a second after Mugabe recovered from the carpet, his information tsars went overboard telling us that “even Jesus would have fallen”.

Instead of conceding that the president fell, some head honcho in the government chose to blame the carpet, denying Mugabe had fallen and above all comparing him to Jesus.

This again reinforces the notion of Mugabe’s invincibility – he is even compared to Jesus and can do no wrong.

Mugabe’s image is built around a very healthy person, who hardly has any health problems to attend to, and any questions about his health are met with scorn from the government.

A question about his eyesight last year elicited a very strong response from the government, despite it being evidently clear that he was straining to read a speech.

At 91, Mugabe’s hair is always dyed pitch black, it’s as if the people behind his image want to portray a person who is eternally strong and ageless.

At the last election, one-and-a-half years ago, Zanu PF drew out a picture of a younger Mugabe, as if to tell us that his age was not an issue, he was renewable.

Now the thought police want to use his age as a reason why his fall should not be source of mirth because he is an elder. Talk of having your cake and eating it.

No doubt Mugabe is healthy for his advanced age, but it is unhelpful to pretend that his age and health are not an issue.

For many Zimbabweans, Mugabe’s fall had nothing to do with his age, but rather, they spotted a chink in his armour and for once they questioned his superhuman persona that they have been made to accept.

What the government has managed to do successfully, in the past 35 years, is to build a cult personality around Mugabe, idealising him and just falling short of deifying him.

But the fall reminded all that he is human and not an invincible super human being.

Like Humpty Dumpty, Mugabe has had a great fall and no matter what the propagandists say, his men and his government spokespersons cannot put him back together as he once was.

Nqaba Matshazi is a news editor at Southern Eye. Feedback @nqabamatshazi on

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