Mugabe deserves to take a rest

HARARE - President Mugabe said at the weekend he felt “youthful and energetic as a boy of nine.”

That, of course, is an exaggeration designed to instil public confidence in a man who is now visibly battling the vicissitudes of old age.

Indeed, he did seem to exhibit some degree of energy after his visit to Singapore for what, we are told officially, are eye problems.

He managed to speak for more than an hour. That is remarkable but not extraordinary.

His unsteady gait, however, betrayed his claims of youthfulness. 

The interview with the ZBC before his visit to Singapore was even more revealing.

His uptake on issues was agonisingly slow.

And when he gave answers, he seemed to wander incoherently.

The interviewer, Tazzen Mandizvidza, seemingly encumbered by both fear and reverence to interrupt or ask hard questions, watched, sometimes breaking into uneasy giggles to barely humorous remarks, as Mugabe rumbled on and on.

Slumped and at times shuffling in his chair, Mugabe took excruciatingly long pauses as Mandizvidza stared sheepishly.

It was clear that Mugabe — the man we may have admired for his eloquence and verve — is beginning to show clear debilitations of ageing than ever before.

He may be a few months into his term. But if the truth be told, this is a man whose rest from public life is long overdue.

It is an inconvenient truth that his supporters and beneficiaries of his patronage will be quick to refute.

With medical help, Mugabe may wobble through the current term.

During the interview, he was evasive about standing again in 2018.

It is, however, inconceivable he will seek another mandate; that is, if he is honest to himself.

His inevitable departure has given succour to factionalists in his party.

He cites this as reason to stay on; it is probably too late (he did not resolve the succession issue) and impossible now to arrest power struggles in his party.

Regardless of Mugabe’s protestations, for as long as he is in power, factions backing his potential successors will always exist, openly or clandestinely.

It was evident during the interview he still has command of issues.

But it was also clear he has lost the mental dexterity he used to possess; the adroitness a leader needs.

Nonetheless, regional and sub-regional bodies still found it proper to lumber him with some responsibilities, which he accepted.

Mugabe was appointed vice-president of the African Union (AU) executive council.

He is also the next chairperson of the Southern African Development Community (Sadc).

Zimbabwe is expected to host the next Sadc summit in August during which Mugabe will succeed Malawi’s Joyce Banda as chairperson of the regional cluster.

These are responsible positions on a continent beset with problems.

Perhaps, regional and sub-regional groups had to make “farewell” honorary gestures to a man who is now in the political departure lounge.

To Mugabe, accepting these functions was diplomatic triumph against those questioning his legitimacy.

Back home, he has set himself an ambitious agenda encapsulated by the economic blueprint Zim-Asset.

It is an onerous project upon which his Zanu PF has mobilised hopes to revivify an economy that has wallowed in the doldrums for about 14 years.

Mugabe does not appear to be a man with the energy to drive the project. It will be noted also that his response to the scandalous salaries of parastatal executives, despite public clamour, was rather slow.
Mugabe deserves a rest.

Some suggest he will not relinquish power because he fears prosecution by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for the Gukurahundi massacres of the 80s.

The ICC does not have the jurisdiction to prosecute him for these atrocities because the court, established in 2002, does not operate retroactively. It will only prosecute offences committed after its birth.

In any case, if the ICC wanted to prosecute him for these or any other excesses it would have issued a warrant as it did against President Omar Hassan Al-Bashir of Sudan.

It did not, and will not. Mugabe can retire peacefully.

His admirers will insist he is in remarkable condition for a 90-year-old.

Yes, but perhaps not as an executive ruler of a country.

Comments (9)

Mugabe is sleeping and resting on the job. The economy is collapsing and he is just gazing at it doing nothing. He is now calling for Angel to help with divine intervention.The problems b4 this economy need human solutions. Restore relations with creditors and agree on debt rescheduling and prudent management of the economy. That is what is needed.

Sleeping-on- the-job - 25 February 2014

Mugabe is sleeping and resting on the job. The economy is collapsing and he is just gazing at it doing nothing. He is now calling for Angel to help with divine intervention.The problems b4 this economy need human solutions. Restore relations with creditors and agree on debt rescheduling and prudent management of the economy. That is what is needed.

Sleeping-on- the-job - 25 February 2014

When Mandizvidza asked Mugabe whether he was confident of winning the 2013 elections, Mugabe said 'The 2013 elections, oh yes' The got lot totally and started talking of the 1980 elections, with ZANU winning 80 seats, ZAPU 36 and the White minority part taking the remaining. Listern to this on youtube. The man is out of it most of the time.

Ziziharinanyanga - 25 February 2014

taura hako nyamutata. Look at the face, listen the way he talks, the man even battles sitting upright on the armchair, Asakara mudhara uyu.

chama - 26 February 2014

It is a national tragedy that the man continues to occupy the highest office on the land. Where did the wheels come off, Zimbabwe?

Kufakwejeyi - 26 February 2014

Limgcineleni bantu be Halale umuntu wenu wazibhubhela kudala lokho lisenku lenu

Nqwa - 26 February 2014

You got jokes pratt! This creature Mugabe has been asleep for years when it comes to doing his job properly! The only thing he needs is to be put into a hole and covered up. He has an appointment with the almighty and many angry souls.

Sabi - 27 February 2014

Mugabe has become a liability to the once Jewel of Africa. Rule by the old is called gerontocracy. Time is a non renewable resource. Should we wait to celebrate the death of our "liberator" -cum- oppressor?

CONCERNED - 2 March 2014

I just want to say thank you Sekuru Mugabe For what you did for us for the 19 years. if it werent for you would would have perished the country of 1) Homosexualism which is totally utter bull and ungodly 2) To give blacks what belongs to them.Land 3) To protect us from troubles of the world. But above all I would like to say Sekuru its time you should rest and leave the work to the upcoming youths. We will always follow ur footsteps forever cause you are our inspiration, Icon and Motivator

TAwada - 4 March 2014

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