At 89, Mugabe must resolve succession

HARARE - President Robert Mugabe turns 89 this month amid indications that he will run for a new term in the forthcoming elections.

The veteran former guerrilla has shown amazing energy to remain in office although no one can discount that his health and advanced age work against him.

Yes, his spin doctors have tried to camouflage the health issues but biologically and medically, at this advanced age, it is normal to question his fitness.

But also it is reason to reflect on the achievements the octogenarian leader has made during his political career which has had so many highs and lows.

The lows, on the back of poor decisions and performances by his trusted lieutenants in Zanu PF, have been catastrophic.

There is no doubt that Mugabe still commands respect amongst his supporters who see him as a hero who has defied age and plots to unseat him by his enemies.

Outside Zimbabwe, the Zanu PF leader’s name is hallowed and is feted like a king for his anti-Western stance and for some his empowerment programmes.

His critics accuse him of running down a once-vibrant economy, reducing it to a basket case.

Others slay him at any given time for a bad human rights record against pro-democracy and rights groups.

But in all this, the bigger question of who succeeds him has remained a peripheral issue to the majority of Zimbabweans.

This is an issue that should have, by now; given us a signpost of what the future holds for both Zanu PF and Zimbabwe.

A peaceful Zimbabwe rests on addressing potential conflict flashpoints such as the Zanu PF succession issue.

Even the MDC realises the dangers brought by this unresolved issue.

MDC secretary-general Tendai Biti has warned that Mugabe is like a glue that holds the country and if his succession is not managed properly, Zimbabwe could degenerate into chaos.

Yet, it is up to Mugabe to leave a good legacy that includes the survival of his beloved Zanu PF.

It is our hope that as he celebrates his 89th birthday, he has a plan that will ensure Zimbabwe’s future is consistent with the reasons why he and his colleagues waged a bitter war against colonialists.

We have seen many Zanu PF congresses and conferences come and go but without a straightforward answer to his successor.

Everything has its time.

Maybe this could be the year that he decides to put the matter to rest. - Staff Writer

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