President Robert Mugabe’s flamboyant nephew Philip Chiyangwa.
They’re calling it regime change.
President Robert Mugabe’s flamboyant and very rich nephew Philip Chiyangwa played a large part in achieving the unthinkable: the unseating of a man who’s been in power for the last (nearly) three decades.
Admittedly, Chiyangwa’s victory was in the world of soccer where the longtime head of the Confederation of African Football Issa Hayatou has just been voted out of power.
But some Zimbabweans are asking: could “Fidza” perhaps do the same with his 93-year-old uncle Robert Mugabe, the man who’s ruled Zimbabwe with an iron grip since independence in 1980?
Rival birthday party
ZIFA and COSAFA boss Chiyangwa headed the campaign to block Cameroon’s Hayatou from getting re-elected as boss of CAF and get Madagascar’s Ahmad Ahmad elected in his place. Hayatou had been in place for 29 years. As a key part of his power-transfer strategy, property magnate Chiyangwa even went so far as to hold a birthday party in Harare a day before his uncle’s official party in February. “Fidza” got FIFA president Gianni Infantino to come to the bash as guest of honour.
The campaign paid off, because Ahmad Ahmad was finally elected at the CAF Congress in Ethiopia this week.
So excited were some Zimbabweans that hundreds of them reportedly thronged Harare International Airport on Friday to greet Chiyangwa on his return from Addis Ababa.
But with headlines like “all change in Africa” and “one of Africa’s longest serving strongmen just got voted out of power”, some Zimbabweans and non-Zimbabweans are seeing a certain irony in what’s happened.
“Dear Mr Phillip Chiyangwa, that warm fuzzy feeling you just had sir is called regime change,” tweeted @cctsodzo. “When shall we get a Fidza in our politics to do a Hayatou? Hayatou fall has excited many,” said @shadreck1971. ‘It took a politician from Zimbabwe to bring change’ Phelisile Cengani from Cape Town said: “The irony in all of this, it took a politician from Zimbabwe to bring change at CAF.”Not everyone saw the irony, it seems. Zimbabwe’s Higher Education Minister Jonathan Moyo congratulated the new CAF boss, saying that history had been made in African football “with our very own Philip Chiyangwa in the thick of it.”Asked @povozim in a likely reference to Mugabe’s refusal to accept the what many think was the outright loss of the first round of presidential elections in 2008: “Someone must ask Zifa President @chiyangwa_phil how he would feel if #issahayatou refused to go after yesterday’s defeat! #ZimElections2018”. ‘Mugabe has Hayatousis’ Supersports presenter Robert Marawa went as far as to pose the ‘could the same thing happen to your uncle’ question to Chiyangwa in an interview on Friday night, according to an online Zimbabwe media watchdog.Tweeted @ZimMediaReview. “Robert Marawa asked Chiyangwa if he wouldn’t do the same to Bob. “Different type of politics; you will be throwing yourself under a train”Chiyangwa does not often speak in public about his relative.Zimbabwe’s next elections are in 2018 and Mugabe says he will stand. Zimbabwe’s Independent weekly said Saturday that the longtime president is “suffering from Hayatousis”Robert Marawa asked Chiyangwa if he wouldn’t do the same to Bob.
“Different type of politics; you will be throwing yourself under a train” – Zim Media Review (@ZimMediaReview) March 18, 2017