HARARE – President Robert Mugabe’s threat to pull out of Sadc and his personal attack on South African President Jacob Zuma’s advisor Lindiwe Zulu has been described by analysts and his opponents as an appalling and embarrassing way to show he is scared of elections.
Mugabe used the launch of his party manifesto on Friday last week to attack Zuma’s international relations advisor Zulu, whom he described as a “stupid and idiotic woman.”
Critics told the Daily News on Sunday that Mugabe’s desperate attacks on Zulu and the threat to pull out of Sadc was to intimidate the regional grouping as his chances of winning the elections are slim.
They said Zanu PF was planning to rig the elections and Mugabe used the attack on Zulu and Sadc as a pre-emptive measure to silence the region.
Appearing disoriented, Mugabe’s speech was littered with mistakes and instead of concentrating on his party’s policies, decided to go personal against Zulu, in attacks seen as aimed at Zuma.
Zulu is Zuma’s trusted advisor and a key figure in Zimbabwe’s facilitation process but due to her no-nonsense attitude in dealing with Zanu PF, she has become a victim of hate speech from the former ruling party.
Said Mugabe on Friday: “If Sadc decides to do stupid things, we can move out. But for now we have had a Sadc which has good sense, although from some quarters, unfortunately these were not quarters of authority, they were just utterances by some stupid idiotic woman saying no, elections cannot be held on the 31st of July even against our court. An ordinary sick woman saying no.”
The 89-year-old strongman, who used to be a number one statesman in Sadc, is now surrounded by young and democratic peers such as Zuma, Botswana President Ian Khama and Tanzanian leader Jakaya Kikwete who have steadfastly insisted on the implementation of an electoral roadmap before elections.
Analysts however, dismissed Mugabe’s stance as hot air, saying the ex-guerrilla leader cannot afford to go it alone and was probably feeling the pressure of a possible humiliation at the polls.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai yesterday described Mugabe’s utterances as undiplomatic with potential to torch a storm at a time when Zimbabwe is looking to its neighbours to fund the pending general elections.
“Sadc has bent over backwards to accommodate Zimbabwe. The people of Sadc are one and cannot be separated and it is unfair for one man to say he will pull out a whole people from Sadc,” said Luke Tamborinyoka, the premier’s spokesperson.
He added, “It is a shame coming from someone who is enjoying the presidency which was legitimised by Sadc. He was made president by a Sadc arrangement not by popular vote.”
Mugabe owes his position to Sadc through a power-sharing deal brokered by the organisation in 2008 after an electoral defeat to Tsvangirai.
Zapu leader Dumiso Dabengwa an ex-Zanu PF politburo member prayed that Mugabe’s stance on Sadc is not a government position.
“It’s unfortunate, I hope he was speaking on behalf of Zanu PF not Zimbabweans,” said Dabengwa. “As far as Zimbabweans are concerned, we do not agree with him.”
Priscilla Misihairabwi, secretary- general of the Welshman Ncube led MDC, expressed shock at the derogatory language that Mugabe used on Zulu who has be a regular visitor to Zimbabwe to nudge coalition partners into finding a lasting solution to the country’s political crisis.
Misihairabwi said Mugabe needed to apologise to women.
“We have a whole president of a country, publicly abusing a woman in such derogatory words. In my language, the word street woman only means one thing, a woman of loose morals, it can’t mean any woman walking in the streets, what are our young boys meant to learn from this?
“That it is ok to insult a woman if you disagree with her, Lindiwe’s crime is to say what the men at the Sadc summit said to president Mugabe’s face. He didn’t call them street men. Whatever drove him to say this?
“He needs to apologise to all the women, that language was disgusting more so coming from a president who has been preaching peace, and yet today attacked the very essence of women dignity,” said Misihairabwi.
Political analyst, Charles Mangongera, said there is more to Mugabe’s actions than meets the eye. He said the Zanu PF’s presidential candidate’s words revealed that he was afraid of the July 31 election outcome.
“It’s a pre-emptive attempt to de-legitimise Sadc’s role in Zimbabwe. He is putting together ingredients for an illegitimate electoral process likely to result in a disputed electoral process.
“He knows that when this happens, Sadc will decisively intervene. Mugabe is now trying to bully Sadc, to make them feel that they have to give in to him and give this election a clean bill of health.”
“We now know where Jonathan Moyo is getting his instructions, previously we thought Moyo was a loose canon but now that the master has spoken, we know where he is getting his instructions from,” said Mangongera.
But University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer Charity Manyeruke said it was important for people to put Mugabe’s utterances into perspective.
“The president was trying to say women must not be manipulated by men on basic issues which are supposed to be common like to know that on any matters, the constitutional court is supreme,” she said.