COLUMNBy Dumisani Muleya
IN a shock development across the African football landscape, Madagascar’s unheralded football chief Ahmad Ahmad — whose campaign manager was Zifa president Philip Chiyangwa — defeated the Godfather of the soccer continental governing body, Confederation of African Football (Caf), Issa Hayatou, in power for 29 years.
Ahmad swept to victory with a commanding 34 votes against Hayatou’s 20, in a watershed election held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. His triumph brings to an end Hayatou’s choking stranglehold on African football.
Hayatou’s ouster would send ripple effects across the continent’s football terrain, just as the removal of Fifa boss Sepp Blatter for corruption did across the globe. Blatter was succeeded by Gianni Infantino who was in Zimbabwe recently on business and for Chiyangwa’s birthday.
Although Hayatou was not implicated in the corruption scandal which brought down Blatter, he was caught in the International Sport and Leisure (ISL) cash donation scam. ISL is Fifa’s bankrupt former marketing partner.
Hayatou’s defeat exposed the arrogance of power, and hubris; the Achilles’ heel of African political leaders who after long and often corrupt reigns start to display excessive pride or self-confidence bordering on narcissism. In Greek tragedy, hubris refers to extreme pride and arrogance shown by a character, which ultimately brings about his or her downfall. It is a typical flaw in the personality of a character who enjoys a powerful position; as a result of which he or she ends up overestimating his or her capabilities and utility to such an extent that the individual loses contact with reality. That’s what had become of Hayatou.
His speech before the election proves this. “As the president of Caf, who today possesses unequalled experience and wisdom, I urge you, whatever may be your decision, to choose unity, the choice of solidarity, the winning choice,” he said. “The choice that will allow Africa to remain solid and to assert its full potential on the global football arena.”
This is the same disease — Hayatousis — which President Robert Mugabe is clearly suffering from. Forget about eye cataracts and prostate cancer. Self-righteousness has made Mugabe arrogant, thus smugly strait-laced and intolerant of different opinions and dissent. Hence, a dictator. For Mugabe believes that he is a godsend to rule Zimbabwe, despite evidence he has been a disaster for this country — a leader from hell. It’s called the arrogance of power. It has claimed many high-profile political casualities in Africa, most recently long-time Gambian leader Yahya Jammeh.
Many others from Kamuzu Banda to Jammeh went down the same road. Many others will also follow.
This is the trap which Mugabe has fallen into. He thinks Zimbabwe can’t move forward without him. He has even sadly claimed no one could have run the economy better than him. Just imagine! The arrogance of power at its worst.
Xolela Mangcu, one of South Africa’s most vocal and robust academics, has published a book of his best newspaper columns — titled The Arrogance of Power: South Africa’s Leadership Meltdown — which is an interesting collection of vivid, polemical and cutting-edge installments. It records the initial euphoria –and now growing disillusionment — about the ANC in government, and the leadership meltdown at the heart of the current South African dystopia. This is the same trajectory Zimbabwe followed. With the increasing Zanufication of the ANC, it’s not looking good down south.
Placing South Africa in an African context, Mangcu examines political transitions and the limits to the politics of patronage in post-colonial societies. The arrogance of power cost the ANC dearly in last year’s local government elections, as it resulted in it losing control of three major metropolises — Johannesburg, Pretoria and Nelson Mandela Bay, which includes Port Elizabeth.
The same attitude led to Zanu PF being banished to rural areas since 2000 as the opposition grabbed cities and towns, once its strongholds. Eventually the arrogance of power will lead to Mugabe’s downfall or Zanu PF’s demise. It’s inevitable.