Give others a chance, Obama tells Mugabe

HARARE - U.S President Barack Obama has lambasted President Robert Mugabe for clinging on to power and blamed “bad governance” for the country’s economic downfall.

Speaking in Johannesburg on Saturday, Obama said long-serving presidents must take a cue from anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela who assumed the leadership of his nation after doing 27 years in prison and then stepped down after one term in office.

Obama, America’s first black president, said bad governance has run down Zimbabwe and said leaders must learn to pass the baton.

Obama insinuated that rotating leadership can fix Zimbabwe.

“What Nelson Mandela also stood for is the recognition in that the well-being of a country is more important than the interest of any one person, and one of the reasons that George Washington is our most admired president is because after two terms, he said, ‘enough I’m going back to being a citizen’,” Obama told a joint press conference with Zuma in Pretoria.

Washington, who was the first president of the United States, served two terms and declined to serve a third.

“If you look at US history, there was no rule at the time in the constitution, there was no term limit and he was popular; he could have easily been president of the United States for life but he said. ‘I’m a citizen, I served my time, I engaged my service and it’s time for the next person because that is what democracy is about’,” Obama said.

“And Nelson Mandela, similarly, I think was able to recognise despite how revered he was, that part of this transition process was to make sure that it was bigger than just one person even one of the greatest people in history. What an incredible lesson that is.”

Trained as a teacher, Mugabe spent 11 years as a political prisoner under Ian Smith’s Rhodesian government and rose to lead Zanu PF and was one of the key negotiators in the 1979 Lancaster House Agreement, which led to the creation of a fully democratic Zimbabwe that critics say Mugabe has wrecked through economic mismanagement.

“If you look at Zimbabwe, it used to be one of the wealthiest countries on the content and bad governance has led to an economic disaster,” Obama said during the three-day visit to South Africa.

“It’s now starting to come back and thanks to the work of people like President Zuma, there is an opportunity now to move to a new phase where perhaps Zimbabwe can finally achieve all its promise.

“But that requires fair and free elections and it requires those currently in power in Zimbabwe to recognise that the interests of all people have to be served first.”

South African President Jacob Zuma was appointed to mediate in the Zimbabwe crisis by regional grouping Sadc, after formation of a unity government in 2009 to end an impasse over disputed elections, which has managed to stabilise the economy after 10 years of contraction.

Obama’s statement is a throwback to remarks by Tanzania’s first president, Julius Nyerere, who in 1980 coined Zimbabwe the “jewel of Africa” and admonished the then 56-year-old rebel leader Mugabe to “take good care of it.”

Nyerere died in 1999. A year later Mugabe, a self-proclaimed Marxist, began expropriating land from Zimbabwe’s white farmers.

Since then, the former Rhodesia, once a paradise for safari vacationers and hunting tourists, has been transformed into a scene of devastation.

Comments (28)

Obama in 1000 percent right

Daniel Moyo - 1 July 2013

Obama you are talking rubbish

tafadzwa - 1 July 2013

The only reasons Zanu PF is clinging to power, is that they have committed a lot of crime, and know that they may face the courts when MDC takes over

Tiger Shona - 1 July 2013

Tiger Shona has hit the nail smack on the head! Its all about fear and potential loss of ill acquired wealth, its as simple as that my brothers and sisters.

bingo wajakata - 1 July 2013

Comrade Tafadzwa, say something, support your point or am I expecting too much of you? You sound and appear to have the intellect and wisdom of no other than the emasculated Chinotimba.

bingo wajakata - 1 July 2013

Mugabe hezvo chadzoka, hakusi kutiza Obama here uku? Kikiki.

Charakupa - 1 July 2013

America and South Africa are different from Zimbabwe. We believe in chieftainship and this is not passed on until someone passes on.

tsoka - 1 July 2013

Mugabe and Zanu PF think that they are God's gift to Zim, yet they are Satan's curse to our once beautiful country

tanatswa - 1 July 2013

What nonsense!! Obama is talking with a whiteman's gun right on his head. American sanctions destroyed the economy of Zimbabwe. If land reform was so ruinous, why then impose sanctions? Mugabe will win and win resoundingly no matter how many blood dollars America will give to Zuma and other stupid African leaders. To Obama and all those on American pay-roll we say very loudly and clearly, "Zimbabwe is not for sale" To try and help Tsvangirai, that ignoramas, is stooping down too low, even for a leashed American president who really is nothing but just a White House- house nigger!! Zimbabwe will never be a colony again!!!!

George Sebedebe - 2 July 2013

What nonsense!! Obama is talking with a whiteman's gun right on his head. American sanctions destroyed the economy of Zimbabwe. If land reform was so ruinous, why then impose sanctions? Mugabe will win and win resoundingly no matter how many blood dollars America will give to Zuma and other stupid African leaders. To Obama and all those on American pay-roll we say very loudly and clearly, "Zimbabwe is not for sale" To try and help Tsvangirai, that ignoramas, is stooping down too low, even for a leashed American president who really is nothing but just a White House- house nigger!! Zimbabwe will never be a colony again!!!!

George Sebedebe - 2 July 2013

What nonsense!! Obama is talking with a whiteman's gun right on his head. American sanctions destroyed the economy of Zimbabwe. If land reform was so ruinous, why then impose sanctions? Mugabe will win and win resoundingly no matter how many blood dollars America will give to Zuma and other stupid African leaders. To Obama and all those on American pay-roll we say very loudly and clearly, "Zimbabwe is not for sale" To try and help Tsvangirai, that ignoramas, is stooping down too low, even for a leashed American president who really is nothing but just a White House- house nigger!! Zimbabwe will never be a colony again!!!!

George Sebedebe - 2 July 2013

I suppose it is democracy for one country to stiffle the aspirations of the people of another country! I suppose it is also democracy to kill and maim hundreds of thousands of innocent lives by drones!! Let Zimbabweans choose the leader of their choice. You tried to do the same in Kenya and it filled dismally! Obama campaigned for Mugabe without realising it. Poor stupid Tsvangirai!!!! He is now exposed as a western stooge beyond any doubt !!!

Naison Nyereyegona - 2 July 2013

The situation Mugabe has created in Zimbabwe can be summed up in the observation by Bertrand Russell: “The first step in a fascist movement is the combination under an energetic leader of a number of men who possess more than the average share of leisure, brutality, and stupidity. The next step is to fascinate fools and muzzle the intelligent, by emotional excitement on the one hand and terrorism on the other”. It is in Africa that anyone who spews anti-Western vitriol becomes a hero. Mugabe is clever to use that trick. Idi Amin did the same and he became the Chairperson of OAU despite killing thousands of his countrymen. Mugabe committed heinous genocide in Zimbabwe but we have people sanitising his rule because he, like Idi Amin, uses the anti-Western rhetoric. Every election people are killed by Mugabe's Zanu PF thugs but he can still say it's the West who exaggerate. Well, for some of us who have relatives and friends killed by Mugabe's regime, he is not our hero. He cannot claim to be a Pan-Africanist as he disenfranchised millions of Africans he and his Zanu PF call 'aliens'. Needless to say many Africans are voting in the West and in the USA there is a president of African descent. In Zimbabwe, Mugabe and his party deny Africans citizenship. It is a shame and a great tragedy that in Africa, by just insulting the West, you become a Great African and a Pan-Africanist!!!

Nkosi Mambo - 2 July 2013

The situation Mugabe has created in Zimbabwe can be summed up in the observation by Bertrand Russell: “The first step in a fascist movement is the combination under an energetic leader of a number of men who possess more than the average share of leisure, brutality, and stupidity. The next step is to fascinate fools and muzzle the intelligent, by emotional excitement on the one hand and terrorism on the other”. It is in Africa that anyone who spews anti-Western vitriol becomes a hero. Mugabe is clever to use that trick. Idi Amin did the same and he became the Chairperson of OAU despite killing thousands of his countrymen. Mugabe committed heinous genocide in Zimbabwe but we have people sanitising his rule because he, like Idi Amin, uses the anti-Western rhetoric. Every election people are killed by Mugabe's Zanu PF thugs but he can still say it's the West who exaggerate. Well, for some of us who have relatives and friends killed by Mugabe's regime, he is not our hero. He cannot claim to be a Pan-Africanist as he disenfranchised millions of Africans he and his Zanu PF call 'aliens'. Needless to say many Africans are voting in the West and in the USA there is a president of African descent. In Zimbabwe, Mugabe and his party deny Africans citizenship. It is a shame and a great tragedy that in Africa, by just insulting the West, you become a Great African and a Pan-Africanist!!!

Nkosi Mambo - 2 July 2013

dai matinzwirawo tsitsi, u hev killed our generation u politicians by pursuing ur foolish interests which are nt benefiting anyone

tondechiz - 2 July 2013

obama visit to zimbabwe is lik invitin smith to chimoyo, rubish, zimbabwe ndeyeroa, yes we nid to get rid of other thieves bt hatiudzwi zvekuita nemunhu asingatochengeti baba vake, imbwasungata nxaaaa

musorowegomo - 2 July 2013

only fools wil stil b told tht sanctions r the coz of our current situation n only foolz wl refuse e wise advice they r given...PLZ GV OTHERS A CHANCE CHERO MUBHORA VANA MESSI VANO SABHURWA INGAWANI!

uhuru - 2 July 2013

"petakafoma party iyi takavirirana kuti chimuti tinopota tichigamidzana, asi chakazotorwa nevasingadi kupavamwe avo nacho musango" the late Zvobgo said. saka moshama nei ipapa.

kufandichitona, netai - 2 July 2013

Zvakaoma, chokwadi chinorwadza

Norman Sando - 2 July 2013

kikiikikikikiki, hhahahahahahada, chokwadi chinozorwadza ndazviona, at least daily news get to give evrybody a chance to air thier views without screening them like some newspapers and broadcasting stations, it might take a million years but hapana chisingaperi. big up Obama

fellysher - 2 July 2013

george sebedebe it is the people of Zimbabwe who destroy this land, and foremost is that murdering, theiving party zanupf. When someone is given a farm but he does not farm it, he is an economic saboteur. Since zanu has favoured zany cadres, zanu cadres are the biggest economic saboteurs. The president has 17000 hectares of land according to hardtalk with chinamasa who did not disagree. The chefs have 25% of hondo ye minda land. Go from harare in any direction and you will see unfarmed land that used to be green with crops [winter or sumer]. Zanu is a party of destruction. A United families pastor is arrested for 9 grams of gold but diamond bosses are not arrested for sacks of diamonds. dont be a judas george. Fight for the country not a party

wordwriter - 2 July 2013

To all progressive Zimbabweans i find it very important that we bring Mugabe to rest by yesterday by voting him OUT! come 31 July , so that we can have fresh minds that can thrust Zimbabwe foward.

Aluta - 2 July 2013

obama is clever but is not wise, they just use his orator skills and give him what to say, he is held at ramsom by whites behind him, talk of a wolf in sheep skin, he cant change any law, there is absolutely no changes to america's intrests since he came to power, shame on you, go back nigger, neglos are not to be trusted

tonde - 2 July 2013

Saka imimi vanaTonde ndimi mangwara?

Major - 2 July 2013

Saka imimi vanaTonde ndimi mangwara?

Major - 2 July 2013

@Tonde- very good...yah? Obama is held at ransom by whites and our president is not, yah? This is genius. Yes? In fact he is the only revolutionary in the world, Yes?

gutter poet - 2 July 2013

Nonsense, stupid obama. Zimbabwe was the juwel of the whites who enjoyed her wealth at the expense of her own children. That wealth is now in its rightful owners hands. Give us chance, Zimbabwe will boom. Long life Comrade Robert Gabriel Mugabe. They will never like you because with their superior weapons you beat them, educated your people and now empowering them. We are behind you yesterday, today and tomorrow

tk - 2 July 2013

The difference is South Africa attained democracy in 1994 and Zimbabwe attained independence. Thus South African started well with a humble and forgiving leader who knew the will of pple and left it for future leaders to carry on the good work. But in Zim selfishness and greedy rooted its self and the leadership became self centred motivated by power at all costs thus independence never blossommed into a democracy. After 33 years we still have to have 1 man 1 vote and a death free election. What a shame!

Taata - 4 July 2013

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