SADC is staring down a possible apocalypse.
Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe has put forward his name to contest a presidential election that if he wins, as it’s ever more likely, will give him an extra five years at the helm.
He is currently 93 years old; tired, in bad health and in bad shape.
The man can barely raise his feet.
His failing health is rich in metaphor.
Literally in disarray, Mugabe’s health mirrors that of a nation he has led for close to forty years now.
To talk of Zimbabwe’s economy is to waste one’s energy.
Not only is Zimbabwe broken, the country is helplessly going through the jaws of a political power struggle that if not handled properly could spell an Armageddon, not only for the country but the entire sub-region.
There can be no winners.
If Zimbabwe goes down in smoke, the country will take down with it the entire SADC.
The least tragic outcome we can hope for under the circumstances is an economic meltdown.
Yet an all out armed war seems more like it.
SADC, we are told cannot intervene because apparently chaos inside Zimbabwe are a yardstick of measuring that country’s sovereignty.
It is no longer clear who is in charge.
In the past security chiefs were said to be in charge, but not anymore.
The only thing that seems to hold that country together is the foreboding spectre of who among the belligerents will succeed Mugabe when he finally dies.
No faction is prepared to compromise.
The two factions hate each other so much so that they cannot even bring themselves to agree on anything other than that its better for them to allow Mugabe to hang on until his last breath.
Mugabe, it seems is the only thing they can agree on.
Which should get all of SADC worried, because Mugabe, it is becoming increasingly clear to all of us will not be around for too long.
Zimbabwe has been on a downward gradient for close to two decades.
During that time the country has changed everything ÔÇô from its currency to its membership of the commonwealth.
Ye one thing has stayed constant. And also held the country together; Robert Mugabe.
But the days of Mugabe are fast coming to an end.
As we speak, to continue with Mugabe as president despite his health and advanced age is to subject the man to degrading indignities by those who profess to love him.
Zimbabwe is the epitome of what tragedy liberation has brought to African states.
Zimbabwe is due for elections next year.
And Mugabe is standing for elections because of a long running succession feud that has all the possible contenders literally at each other’s throat.
Because he is now helpless, it is easy to sell Mugabe as a victim of circumstances.
That though is to offer a simplistic answer to what is a very complex political question.
Mugabe is himself – from beginning to the end the villain of the piece.
The rot started the moment he decided not to allow a successor to emerge around him.
He has refused to accept that his continued rule – or should we say mis-rule – is simply a delayed misery that his country and possibly SADC must face up to.
Now his wife, an unhinged and unstable manipulator has joined the mix.
She is fighting against Emmerson Mnangagwa, a blood-stained security linchpin who has been with Mugabe since their days in the trenches.
This week Mugabe all but removed Mnangagwa from that contest.
With a cabinet reshuffle Mnangagwa has been shorn of the power that he used to have.
But he is a seasoned fighter who is not known to give up easily.
We have certainly not seen the last of him.
Zimbabwe has remained a divided country ÔÇô politically, economically and ethnically.
There are many ethnic issues that have remained unresolved.
The Ndebeles in the south have since independence been a marginalized lot.
Like an abused spouse they chose to bid their time.
This is not to say they have forgotten how Mugabe together with Mnangagwa unleashed misery and tyranny on them in the 1980s.
Those wounds will never heal.
If any credit has to be given to Mugabe it has to be the semblance of peace and unity that has held.
But without him Zimbabwe might slide into a civil war.
He will be to blame for it.