Political developments in Zimbabwe have lately been on my mind.
One section of that country wants the country to immediately hold elections while the other says elections can wait.
But it is not whether or not Zimbabwe is ready for elections that I have recently found myself grappling with.
Rather it is what becomes of Zimbabwe after Robert Mugabe is gone.
Hate him or love him, Mugabe is today the only glue that holds Zimbabwe together.
More importantly, his pair of hands is the only thing keeping belligerents in his ZANU PF at bay.
Mugabe’s departure would mostly likely lead to the collapse of the whole edifice. And the chaos likely to follow is just too ghastly to even start to think about.
It may possibly be heretical to say it but I have come to a conclusion that under the present circumstances, without Mugabe, Zimbabwe is a country without a future.
That country has never needed Mugabe more ÔÇô not only to keep the demons of his party at bay but also make sure that the country does not degenerate into a full-scale civil war.
One way or another Mugabe will leave the scene.
Hovering somewhere close to the 90 year mark, he is no longer a young man.
But countries like Botswana who have spiritedly called for his departure should be careful in what they ask for, for that is what they may just get. We can never be ready to handle what would befall Zimbabwe in case Mugabe left today.
As in the whole sub-region public opinion in Zimbabwe has always been against Mugabe’s bullyboy tactics.
But curiously that opinion is increasingly turning apprehensive as it dawns on many just what the true political and economic costs of his departure would entail.
His departure would cause a void that could lead to a possible apocalypse in Zimbabwe.
At party level, Mugabe’s departure would wreak havoc on a scale hitherto unknown.
The first to fight among themselves will be key members of his inner circle.
A ruthless manipulator, Mugabe has throughout his rule, ensured that he destroyed all potential pretenders to the throne. Even as he approaches 90 years, he has still not anointed a successor.
While Vice President Joyce Mujuru fancies her chances, it is not a given that she will be acceptable to the hardliners straddling the party. They are led by the brutal and most feared Emerson Mnangagwa, a political and security veteran who many believe still has many questions to answer regarding the Matebeleland massacres of the 1980s.
Close watchers insist Mujuru could win a fair contest. The truth, however, is that she has had her hand weakened by the death of her husband, a powerful general who was for many years not just a power broker but an icon at the centre of what may be called Zimbabwe’s latter day military industrial complex.
In the meantime, Mnangagwa, a reclusive but determined power monger, has been busy increasing his stranglehold over ZANU PF by planting his people across all structures, clearly in anticipation of Mugabe’s departure.
Insiders say Mnangagwa could turn out to be much crueler than Mugabe has ever been.
Although hierarchically Mujuru is senior, Mnangagwa is less predisposed to accept defeat.
That would send ZANU-PF and, with it, the entire country tumbling down.
To make matters worse, the military is not known for fairness let alone political detachment. A good number of generals will get embroiled in the fight for turf.
At a national level, already at rock bottom, Zimbabwe could possibly undergo a meltdown. Already reeling from the excessive numbers of unwanted economic refugees from Zimbabwe, neighbouring countries would most likely collapse under the inevitable new exodus.
None of the countries in SADC will be spared. The catastrophe will most likely be felt in places as far away as England.
This I suspect may also be the reason why London has been softening and growing more circumspect in its rhetoric against Harare.
One will not be surprised if the sanctions were lifted, if not to prop Mugabe up, then at least to give him incentives to behave himself.
In power for well over thirty years, Robert Mugabe is the only person a good number of Zimbabweans has ever known as a president.
I have lost count of how many times we have been told that he is about to retire or die.
Because we have grown to hate him so much, we have become so incapable to openly acknowledge just how much we need him even as it has become so plainly clear to us that an alternative could lead us all down the abyss.
Difficult as it so evidently is to many SADC leaders, we have to admit that a man the world had thought would be a shoo-in replacement for Mugabe has been an unmitigated disappointment.
Morgan Tsvangirai is not just weak; he is also careless, crude, unpolished and tactless.
He has with time been badly tainted by his participation in a coalition government that has only brought more misery to the people of Zimbabwe.
At least the world, including Botswana, is beginning to wake up to the sad truth that in Tsvangirai they had backed a wrong horse.
Zimbabwe needs our help. But such help will be so much difficult to implement without Robert Mugabe’s participation.