Last candle of an octogenarian

HARARE - That season to be bombarded by the goodness of President Robert Mugabe’ propaganda is upon us again, where all broadcast stations would indefinitely flight birthday sycophantic drool every five or so minutes.

This Thursday Mugabe celebrates his 89th birthday, something so special in his life considering that “boys” of his generation are fast dwindling and that perhaps he is still going strong.

Amid all this we certainly know that while the day has not been declared a national holiday, the prominence it gets is simply the same, prime hours it is accorded on national radio and television is great while acres if not forests of space it is awarded in newspapers being greater too.

However, another reminder has recently been slapped right in front of Mugabe’s face and those of his age all over the world that at such an age one cannot continue effectively in certain occupations, especially demanding duties like those of a statesman.

Pope Benedict XVI’s shock resignation last week Monday has put on spotlight all octogenarians at the front of politics and business. The main reason beyond the Pope’s resignation who is four years Mugabe’s junior was old age.

Heretics and bootlickers will always dig in the linguistical archives of grammar in their bid to justify that their leader ,Mugabe at 89, is still going strong and is fit as a fiddle. Well that is a blatant lie which cannot go unchallenged.

Like it or not the Mugabe we see today is no longer the same Mugabe who gave a touching speech in 1980, he is no longer the same Mugabe who made rounds all over the country campaigning in the 90’s.

Then, he was an energetic, active, alert and a vigorous statesman whose political rivals could not meaningfully stage a significant electoral competition save for pulling out of the race, citing rigging among the much so obvious reasons of bitter but rather coward political rivals.

Thursday marks Mugabe’s last blow of the candle in his 80s and probably his last gulp of candle smoke as a statesman.

That Mugabe should retire is no longer treasonous nor scornful but a realistic wish aimed at making him rest and provide to the nation treasure of his memoirs and books, something most nationalists in Zimbabwe haven’t done.

It would be good for the nation if Mugabe provides at least one of his memoirs while time is still permitting. Sadly, we all know that Mugabe’s departure from the reins of the party is inevitably the demise of Zanu PF and perhaps its perennial extinction.

While Mugabe blows his last octogenarian candle, it is important to realise that apart from thanksgiving to God to be granted such years, it’s also a painful and torturous experience to be at this age.

One is not as energetic at 89 years as one will be at the age of 40.

When you attain 80 plus more, you become more fragile and even have difficulties in walking.

At times memory is lost and many old friends and close associates pass away. It is a complex lonely life experienced at such age.

With Zanu PF’s thrust being so focused on youths, the party has a torrid task trying to rebrand Mugabe into a youthful brand.

Surprisingly, it is not Mugabe alone who has been so resilient at such an age.

Israeli President Shimon Peres is 89, Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II is 86 and King Bhumipol Adulyade of Thailand is 85.

Perhaps all of them should take a cue from Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands who in January this year cited her 75th birthday as a reason to step down, saying, “our country should be in the hands of a new generation.”

That’s the same script Mugabe should borrow.

At 89, he needs to rest and focus on harnessing the few legacies that he established during his overstay in power. - Alexander Rusero

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