What do the leaders of Zimbabwe, South Africa and the U.S. have in common?
In South Africa, today, the first real action to oust President Jacob Zuma is expected after at least 5-6 years of planning to do so. In Zimbabwe the destructive dictator Robert Mugabe who was ousted by a coup last November may be on the way back!
And in the U.S.? Neither Zimbabwe or South Africa provide as much surprise and contrast to the past as Donald Trump in the White House. Impeachment by the book is simple; by historical standards a slam dunk. But the chances of impeaching Donald Trump are about as great as winning the super lottery. So why is it so hard to get rid of these monsters?
Start with the fact that all three are criminals. None of the three were ever jailed. But all three lost many prosecutions against them in the courts. Zuma and Mugabe simply ignored their convictions. Trump “settled” his dozens of civil suits.
If a criminal is suddenly the sheriff, moving him out of his office is going to be rather difficult.
But the main source of their staying power in all three cases is “their base.” All three have an incredibly loyal base of supporters who can be relied upon to sufficiently manipulate the political process so that the king stays on the throne.
This is accomplished mostly by partisan largess.
Mugabe and Zuma were both “freedom fighters” – generals in American lingua. In military roles they were successful, and when they achieved political status they always put the soldier first.
Mugabe took white farmers’ land and redistributed it firstly to the other freedom fighters that had fought with him, then down the line to the nearly anonymous foot soldier.
Zuma surrounded himself with former fighters and dished out such lavish rewards there was a definite trickle down effect. Like solder the corrupt “benefits” solidified his base.
Trump wasn’t a soldier. But he was an entertainer, a much more contemporary kingpin in American society. His base are his fans. His fans are people whose naked ego is fed with the same corruption that Mugabe and Zuma use to dish out cash.
Trump lies about race, women, bullying, theft and so on. He decries it, winks then throws the opposite out to fans at his rallies. It becomes as intimate — the secret wink — a bond as when Mugabe sent a Mercedes to an illegitimate nephew.
In both cases there’s not a moment’s hesitation to become civil or legal or proper – it’s simply bribing your base.
So in a remarkably short time historically all three men tied up a base of people who grew increasingly dependent upon them… and upon one another.
In Africa that literally meant funding streams. In America it’s just as effective: ego streaming.
In all three cases when the kingpin leaves, the ruse is up. But during his reign the puppets grow more and more confident till they’re cocky. So there’s no turning back. In fact the base gets sucked in. The base becomes mortally scared it might end.
Once Zuma’s gone, no court will protect his family-and-friends’ assets against the many criminal and civil suits pending against him. Officials in Zimbabwe are getting ready to cut the funding streams to Mugabe’s tens of thousands of supporters, and that’s what’s stirred rumors of a new coup.
In America no evangelical church leader supporting Trump, no racist bimbo marching in white dunce caps, no teenage bullies brandishing rifles at schools will continue in the limelight.
They’ll be ridiculed, prosecuted and run out of town. Their fall will be so dramatic and terminal that it will amount to a purge.
So that’s how they do it: these three “bad” leaders are the puppet masters with a thousand strings and more dangling every day.
The longer they remain, the more strings that are added, the harder it becomes to cut any of them. Each little doll gets strung to the other. The womanizer, the militant, the racist, the criminal – even the terrorist – they all become woven together and depend more and more on one another for their survival.
When the puppet master goes, the collapse will be spectacular. We thought we saw that in Zimbabwe, but not yet as it turns out. I hope we see it in South Africa later today. In America?