Hillary Clinton tried it in the United States of America. She had hoped to take over from her husband Bill Clinton, but her efforts fell flat. Grace Mugabe tried it in Zimbabwe and Nkosazana Ndlamini Zuma tried it in South Africa and it did not work. One is bound to ask why? In all the cases, their husbands secretly harboured wishes to have their wives take over.
At the core is the execution of the process to hand over power to one’s spouse. If it was a different person altogether with intentions to take over power, that would have been tolerated. The transfer of power within a family is what people do not want. One should come from somewhere to contest any political position and they would not face resistance from the general populace. What people are against is a woman coming into power through their proximity to the throne, especially when the husband has been holding the reins. Why do women want to ride on the popularity of their husbands to come to power?
These ambitious women should come on board and seek power fairly without riding on their husbands’ backs. There should be no arranged power transfer. Husbands may have succeeded but that does not mean that power, knowledge and skills would transfer to the wives easily. We must say “over our dead bodies shall we allow women to take over from their husbands”. When the husband retires, they must go and enjoy their pension together. What are they saying to us? The message is that when the husband was in power, he showed his wife how to run government so they begin to entertain thoughts of taking the bull by the horns.
In Britain and Germany, Theresa May and Angela Meckel respectively came to power through sheer hard work. They were convincing to their people. They did not use their husbands in any way. The women should know that every man who comes into power is there to serve and not to share the power with the wife. Whoever aspires to be in power, must work their way up. The saying that “behind every successful man there is a woman” is not only untrue, but just a convenient saying which is said in public to appease women.
The world has seen through these men and they have been dead right in seeing the man as a leader in his own right. Women get the accolades, well and fine, for their support of their husbands. It would be folly for these women to want to take over. No woman should then dream that because the husbands did well in the office, there must be some kind of power transfer.
I am not saying that women cannot lead. They can if they come up from their own angles, not from behind their husbands. We see clearly and we do not want to be fooled. The world has its eyes open and wants to be led by men who would have been looked after very well by their wives. When they have done the job, we will thank them for a job well-done. In cases where women eventually get the power, they tend to brag by saying they were actually the ones running the show when we thought it was their husbands.
Clinton wanted to go for presidency and competed with Barack Obama to become American’s president. She did fail, and he made her secretary of state. But she still wanted to be the president. She tried, and she did not know what she was into. She tried hard but she failed at it again. It was like they liked her all over America, but even with that show of love from the people, she lost the leadership. Indeed, Bill Clinton helped her to achieve her goal. He supported her right up to the end.
The amount of money and effort put into it was huge. For all those efforts that the whole nation put into it, nothing worked out. She had all the groundswell in most states. She lacked nothing in her campaign. All systems worked in her favour, but all that came to nothing. We cannot say that they were lacking anything. We only hope that she had what it takes, but to no avail. After those gruelling efforts, she lost the big post.
Then it was our own. There were innuendoes to the fact that Grace wanted to be president. She really pushed Mugabe to the end. At each of the interface rallies we thought each one was putting her to the front. It seemed as if all systems worked in her favour. Nothing could stop her. It seemed she was closing in on the vice-presidency. Even the vice-president Emmerson Mnangagwa was finally pinned down and we thought he was gone. But Mugabe was careful not to appoint her soon after he sent Mnangagwa packing. He waited a little bit and that was going to work in Mnangagwa’s favour.
The army intervened and in no time, we were all caught in that moment of anxiety and anticipation. The first family got the message that their efforts had been thwarted. The army could not let Grace and her friends stampede the presidency. Efforts to get her out of the way were in place. Prior to the “coup”, then army general Constantino Chiwenga was out in China for an official duty. We are told they had wanted to ambush him.
The G40 faction was out-smarted by the army. The waiting as deliberations went on at state House. As the nation waited for Mugabe’s resignation, he held fast, leaving the nation in suspense.
The final debacle was that of Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma. This time we had one who had all the support of the ex-husband and all the party structures. Days and nights of hot campaign were put into her candidacy but all that did not work out. When delegates started arriving at the place of the conference, everyone was canvassing for support. It was like every woman was for a lady president.
What she lacked was the generality of the members.Anyone who mattered seemed to be on her side.
Come the election time, she did no make it. It was very close though, but all the efforts came to naught. Cyril Ramaphosa won the election hands up. South Africa was taken by surprise as the vote were announced. But everyone was in agreement that the election went the right way. The seal was put.
Those with ears, let them here.
l Rev Dr Levee Kadenge is a lecturer at United Theological College in Harare. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.