Mugabe defies age

HARARE - At 90, President Robert Mugabe, who is among those who played a prominent role in Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle, but who now stands accused of running down a once vibrant economy, continues to defy age.

On Saturday night while Zanu PF youths were dozing off or snoring, sprightly Mugabe was still awake at 4am, following a night of vote tallying after elections for his Zanu PF Youth League.

The chaotic elections ran well into early morning on Sunday. Youths who had gone to bed on empty stomachs after travelling long distances on Thursday, failed to keep pace and dozed off.

But an energetic Mugabe was up all night, and went on to deliver a damning speech against vote buying by senior officials in his party, at 4am!  What a feat for a man at his age.

Critics say Mugabe agewise is past his prime as president but  he deserves some kudos because of his physical prowess.

Despite an international outcry over his human rights’ record and an economy on the brink of collapse, Mugabe has resolved to hang on to power and steer his beleaguered party, Zanu PF.

At the recent Zanu PF Youth League conference, the 90-year-old repeatedly denounced the leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Morgan Tsvangirai.

Pasi naTsvangirai (Down with Tsvangirai),” he thundered. Of course, he has chanted this slogan many times but it has failed to bring food on the table for the impoverished Zimbabweans.

Critics say his rabid obsession with his political opponent, Tsvangirai is an example of Mugabe’s increasingly authoritarian rule and his apparent determination to discredit, intimidate and repress the opposition.

“This is not a game,” Mugabe told his ruling Zanu PF youths.

Mugabe, hailed by his supporters as a true liberator from white Rhodesian rule, has pinned his political hopes on a programme to seize majority stakes in foreign-owned firms to give to blacks.

At the youth conference last week, Mugabe attacked his opponents as traitors, polarising opinion among his countrymen as never before.

He touted his land reform programme, aimed at redressing colonial-era injustices but has been marred by violent invasions of white-owned farms by pro-government militants, as a success story of his revolution or Chimurenga.

Born on February 21, 1924, at Kutama Mission northwest of the capital Harare, he qualified as a teacher at the age of 17.

He took his first steps into politics when he enrolled at Fort Hare University in South Africa, where he met many of southern Africa’s future black nationalist leaders.

He then resumed teaching, moving to Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) and Ghana before returning to Zimbabwe in 1960.

As a member of various nationalist parties which were banned by the white-minority government, he was detained with other nationalist leaders in 1964 and spent the next 10 years in prison camps or jail.

He used those years to consolidate his position in Zanu and emerged from prison in November 1974 as Zanu leader. He then left for Mozambique from where his banned party was launching guerrilla attacks on Rhodesia.

Economic sanctions and war forced Rhodesian leader Ian Smith to negotiate.

Mugabe’s renamed Zanu Patriotic Front, which drew most of its support from the ethnic Shona majority, swept to power in elections which ended white-minority rule in 1980.

Mugabe announced a policy of reconciliation with the country’s white minority. But most have left and there are now between 70 000 and 80 000 whites in the country, less than one percent of the population.

In his early years, Mugabe was widely credited with improving health and education for the black majority but social services later declined.

In 1990, he unsuccessfully tried to establish a one-party State along Chinese lines.

In October 2001, with inflation at 85 percent, unemployment over 50 percent and foreign currency reserves exhausted, Mugabe declared an end to market reforms and a return to socialism.

The decision was criticised as an electoral ploy that “had no relevance to the problems  the economy is (was) facing”. Subsequently, the economy collapsed as inflation ran riot.

Now, about 80 percent of Zimbabwe’s 13 million people live below the poverty datum line. Mugabe “continues to defy age and works very long days.

“I wake up at about 4.30 am and brush my teeth and exercise for (up to) one and a half hours,” he said in a recent interview

“I survive on one meal a day, just one good meal. There is no time for two meals ... but one needs a good breakfast. I have porridge and an egg in the morning.

“The egg is boiled for just a minute to ensure that its nutritive value is not reduced by overcooking.”

If he serves his full term, Mugabe will be 94 when the next elections are due. At the funeral of his sister Bridget in January, he mused: “I do not know how I have lived this long. It is all in God’s hands.”

Comments (30)

But isn't it that Daily News sometimes refers to Bob as 'ailing'? Tell us, Daily News, Is the president fit or ailing? Or you just write 'ailing' when it suits your mood?

machakachaka - 13 August 2014

Rambai makashinga Gushungo , Wish you many more , kana muchirikuzvinzwa muna 2018 please go for another term. Ndatenda

Chatota - 13 August 2014

Mugabe should count himself lucky to be alive and in good health at 90 years old. He should slow down and retire. He can exercise as much as he can, eat well and have the best health support system but time is not on his side. He cannot defy old age and death forever. That is a fact of life.

Thomas Banda - 13 August 2014

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Fungi Kwaramba, Daily News reporter - you state that “Robert Mugabe, who is among those who played a prominent role in Zimbabwe's liberation struggle”. What a load of vacuous garbage. Zimbabwe was never “liberated” by anyone. Zanu's and Zapu's fighting had no connection whatsoever with black rule in this land. Black rule was negotiated. It was our votes which got Zanu into power in 1980 after Muzorewa's reign. I voted in the 1980 elections so I know what I am talking about. Before 1890 there was no nation-state. This country was created by the British. It is a British construct. Without the British there would be no country to talk about. Get your facts right. What sort of journalist are you who doesn't know simple acts on how black rule was attained? You have been brainwashed. Robert Mugabe was a nationalist in NDP, a party which was trying to get into power. I can bet you he didn't do much.

Musona - 13 August 2014

Daily News, I like you. I used to think wrong of you. Zimbabweans are normally Zimbambweans and they are of a rare quality world over.

dungas - 13 August 2014

Musona you are delusional. It is the war waged by ZANLA and ZIPRA which forced a negotiated settlement because the British were afraid of an Angolan situation in Zimbabwe. To protect their interest the cunning British hastily convened the Lancaster House Conference by threatening to cut aid to Frontline states who were supporting the Patriotic Front. Daily News you forgot to say that Mugabe was detained for 10 years without being tried! 10 whole years without going to court!

Gogodera - 13 August 2014

That makes two @gogodera who see musona's comments in the same way. I do not understand how he can argue the way he does. Without a war the brits were relactant to hand over power to zimbos. Its a fact that musona chose to ignore. The suffering that blacks endured under white rule is a non-event to musona. I would not argue with him if he wanted to rule the country himself. Rather i object to his idea of ceding the country back to the so called whites- thats my problem. However, i respect his judgement and respectifully agree to disagree with him it seems.

taurai - 13 August 2014

It might be a good idea to ask why Mugabe goes for treatment elsewhere, and not in Zim. He knows that local doctors will somehow have some chibuku and talk about what kinds of medication he is taking. But as we know, the human body cannot continue to be abused by doses of this or that drug. Even the hair-dyeing exercise sometimes really looks funny, pretending and acting young when we know that his real hair is absolutely white. Everyone knows that there is a lot of play.acting in state house.

Chenjerai Hove - 13 August 2014

@gogodera - what you have written is fiction - absolute nonsense. Are you basing your acts on what you experienced or what you read in some novel? Who was forced into a negotiated settlement, the British or the Rhodesians? When was that? Do not use words like "delusional" if you were not around that time. I voted in the 1980 elections in the then Salisbury so I know what I am talking about. Where were you in 1980? If you had not been born shut up. Zanu and Zapu were aiming for a military victory which they did not achieve but as with all political parties they will not say their strategy did not work, they will say they defeated Smith or they forced someone to the negotiating table. They did not defeat Smith. And your version that Zanla and Zipra forced the British who were afraid of an Angolan situation is utter garbage - your own invention. I don't know which Angola situation you are talking about. I will give you a true version of events as someone who voted in 1980. If someone writes a comment it is best to ask them to clarify what they mean if you do not understand instead of using words you do not understand like delusional. I voted in 1980. I knew why I was voting and what led to the election. Let me reiterate once more - the fighting by Zanu and Zapu has no connection with the attainment of black rule in this country.

Musona - 13 August 2014

Internal parties negotiated with Ian Smith from 1978 culminating in an election in April 1979 where Muzorewa was voted into power with his UANC. Muzorewa then went to the UN to try and have UN trade sanctions against the country lifted. The OAU countries would have none of it insisting that Zanu and Zapu be included in any meaningful exercise in Rhodesia. The OAU wanted Britain to take a lead role in political process in the country. The Front line states were finding it costly, disruptive and dangerous to play host to Zanu and Zapu. In July 1979 there was a Commonwealth conference in Lusaka which was attended by British PM Maggie Thatcher where it was agreed by all Commonwealth countries that Britain should take a leading role on Rhodesian negotiations and that it was necessary to have fresh elections in Rhodesia. That is when Britain called for a Constitutional Conference at Lancaster House for ALL interested parties in September 1979. Zanu under Mugabe was unwilling to attend because they wanted nothing less than a military victory but were forced to attend by Machel or else he threatened to withdraw support for Zanu. Machel actually went to UK to tell Margaret Thatcher that he had been able to force Zanu to attend the Conference. The same happened with Zapu under Nkomo in Zambia. Kaunda told Zapu they had to attend the Conference. On November 15, 1979 a Bill was passed in the British parliament to appoint a Governor for Rhodesia to oversee the elections and for sanctions to be removed as soon as the Governor arrived in Salisbury. The governor arrived on the 12 December 1979. The USA and the Frontline states put pressure on Zanu and Zapu to accept the ceasefire proposals on the 17 December 1979 and the agreement was initialled on the 21 December 1979. This is what I know happened.

Musona - 13 August 2014

The Commonwealth Conference in Lusaka, Zambia was actually on the 1st to the 8th August 1979 not in July 1979.

Musona - 13 August 2014

there will always be history but we dont eat history lets create and grow the economy

KGB - 13 August 2014

In that account of events where can you possibly place the sentence “So that is when and where Zanu and Zapu liberate the country”? I just cannot see where "liberation" fits into the events here.

Musona - 13 August 2014

Sando dzako Musona!!!!

Chris MuNdau - 13 August 2014

"Study history, study history. In history lies all the secrets of statecraft." Winston Churchill

MutemaMunhu - 14 August 2014

@Musona ndiwe wakazvipengera wena,sando dzako tora hako,kwete zvevanoda kuswero tinyepera kuti vakatora nyika nepfuti iyo nyika yakauya nevote yedu

Shumba - 14 August 2014

I have always insisted that a person's age really matters in Zimbabwe's political history. If you were an infant around 1978-1980 you will not be aware of the nuances of the political goings-on at the time. The majority just follow what politicians tell them slavishly. Over the years I hae read and heard politicians lying through their teeth about how black rule was attained. For example. ZanuPF's Chris Mutsvangwa was castigating MDCs Priscilla Mushonga-Misihairambwi that it was us, in ZanuPF, who defeated Smith so that you people can today be ministers! That was a lie but was taken by Priscilla Mushonga as gospel truth because around 1980 Priscilla was maybe just a teenager. Mugabe has been lying for the last 34 years about it but nobody dares to tell him he is lying. Now, we have young reporters like Daily News' Fungi Kwaramba parroting the lies. The lie has now taken currency and people are even fighting each other to be called heroes when black rule came via negotiation and our votes. THW ONLY TWO PEOPLE WHO WERE FORCED TO ATTEND LANCASTER HOUSE CONFERENCE WERE ROBERT MUGABE AND JOSHUA NKOMO WHO WERE FORCED BY THE FRONTLINE STATES but like all politicians they will lie that it was the other side which was forced. Zanu and Zapu wanted a military victory because they were not sure how they were going to fare in elections. They thought a military victory was a sure-fire way to get into power. This is why Mugabe goes to Heroes Acre all the time to bolster the LIES, he knows the ordinary people are ignorant and believe anything politicians say. From the official sequence of events there is nowhere were you can insert “liberation by Zanu and Zapu”. The fighting by Zanu and Zapu had no connection in the attainment of black rule in this country.

Musona - 14 August 2014

It's also a lie by this Daily News reporter that, “Economic sanctions and war forced Rhodesian leader Ian Smith to negotiate”. That is a lie. From 1976 Ian Smith was leant on by USA Secretary for State Henry Kissinger and S Africa's John Vorster to accept black majority rule. Kissinger met Smith on 18 September 1976 in Pretoria, S Africa and proposed to Smith a transitional period of 2 years to majority rule in what was called the “Anglo-American initiative”. Smith expressed great reluctance, but agreed on 24 September after Vorster intimated that South Africa might cut off financial and military aid if Smith refused. It was the first time Smith had publicly accepted the principles of unconditional majority rule and one man, one vote. That as some of us know was the turning point. It was not the sanctions or the war but pressure from USA. This reporter is one hell of a liar.

Musona - 14 August 2014

Henry Kissinger , ex US Secretary for State is still alive and so is Lord Carrington who chaired the Lancaster House Conference - a good reporter would try interview the 2 people to get the true story not just lie like what this Daily News reporter is doing.

Musona - 14 August 2014

Its difficult to convince "Born-frees" and corrupt self-styled -neo- liberators -cum Heroes

Mukanya - 14 August 2014

Musona you are dangerous as a misguided missile. How on earth can you try to discredit the role played by the Zanla and Zipra liberation movement in liberating Zimbabwe from the yoke of Smith's UDI? If OAU refused to recognise Muzorewa and demanded free elections then who lost on that, isn't it Smith. it was the collective effort of Zanla, Zipra and the Frontline States that forced the British and Smith to the negotiating table.

Jesuit Priest - 14 August 2014

Musona knows the history. It was only when Kissinger and Vorster cornered Smith that the Rhodesian leader appeared on RBC TV with his speech: 'We have no room for manoeverability' after Vorster had made his 'too ghastly to contemplate' speech, forcing Smith to negotiate or perish. It might be a good idea to feed ourselves on history if we want to nourish the present and the future. He who does not know where he is coming from does not know where he is and where he is going. Let us face some basic facts: the liberation war in Zim did not end with guerrillas matching into state house like what happened in Cuba and Nicaragua. Political leaders went to negotiate and compromise at Lancaster House, coming out with a terrible document as a constitution which was never translated into local languages because our nationalists did not want the people to know the real contents of the documents. The Liberation movements(ZANLA and ZIPRA) were under immense pressure from host countries to come out with something positive even if it was not the best. Bullets, guns and food were running short. Local hosting populations were getting poorer, and it took people like Samora Machel to tell the leaders that if they don't come out with something positive, ZANLA leaders should not return to Moza. Read Ken Flower's 'Serving Secretly' and you will have a good understanding of what pressures were on the Rhodesians as well as the nationalists. Settle or perish! That was the message from both the British and the hosting countries like Zambia and Mozambique.

Chenjerai Hove - 14 August 2014

Chenjerai hove's description of what happened is quite balanced. Musona is one sided. For him. it seems the whites had nothing to loose yet they lost the country and the wealth they dearly longed for. War played a party in these compromise. Otherwise the rhodes would have negotiated with any other person. In my view, war played a role thats why we see those who fought as the liberators. That does not mean they did it with out the help of the populus - no.

taurai - 14 August 2014

What Musona cannot go unchallenged, what he has said maybe factually correct but it is not essentially TRUTHFUL what Musona appears to say is that Smith, Kissinger and Vorster out of their own volition graciously handed over the Ballot to him ( assuming he is black ) and all the black Africans to vote Smith out of power ?? No -- that is not true.. the truth is that Musona's ballot came through Zanla & Zipra's bullets -- and to an extent the civil resistance of the people. It was the bullet that gave birth to the ballot. The ballot was not given to us with a smile and since the people supported the bullet then they rightfully received the ballot -- essentially victory is when you achieve your objectives.. and it is very clear who achieved theirs -- you could not separate Zanu & Zapu from the people-- they were one as their objectives were one... what is the good of having loads of historical facts but being unable to read the true lesson of history ?? -- Born free.

Roberto - 14 August 2014

@Roberto - greatest nonsense. Nowhere did I say Smith, Kissinger and Vorster handed the ballot to black graciously this is your own invention or misinterpretation. Black majority rule was negotiated as I have narrated. I know it is unpalatable to some but you cannot change history no matter how much you try. So you are saying the "bullet" forced Kissinger to pressurise Smith are you? In which way?

Musona - 14 August 2014

@taurai - it not your fault you are thick. I have given the facts as I know them but you still want to include your favourites. I am afraid the fighting by Zanu and Zapu had no connection whatsoever with attainment of black rule. This is unpalatable for some. The circumstantial evidence is there for all to see. The holding of a Conference was INITIATED (started) by the Commonwealth leaders in Lusaka in August 1979 NOT anyone from Rhodesia. NOBODY from Rhodesia attended the Commonwealth Conference in Zambia in 1979. There was no pressure to hold the Conference from anyone from Rhodesia. I am not one-sided - this is how events turned out - I did not arrange these events. I am just an interested citizen. I don't know what you mean by “seems the whites had nothing to loose yet they lost the country and the wealth they dearly longed for”? That in nonsense because they lived in the country which they regarded as their home and would not have fought so hard if they didn't feel they were going to lose something they loved. Your comments do not make any sense at all. You might not like or believe in what happened but it did as I have narrated.

Musona - 14 August 2014

@Musona- The chronology of the events you mentioned are factual and clear fall all to follow. However, what you choose to avoid is the fact that the war dynamics played a central role in enabling the ballot. You unwittingly admitted that when you said "Smith expressed great reluctance, but agreed on 24 September after Vorster intimated that South Africa might cut off financial and military aid if Smith refused." Smith knew he could not hold ZIPRA and ZANLA forces on his own. As a result he noticed that it was better to negotiate. Its funny that Musona choose to ignore the famous statement proclaimed by Ian Smith that "I don't believe in majority rule ever in Rhodesia... not in 1,000 years." A man with such stubbornness could not have parcelled this country to the same people who looked down upon. Another thing Musona is that you don't necessarily have to have been there to critic what transpired in the same vein a Judge should not have been in the crime scene in order to give an unbiased adjudication. Its sad that Musona still has that mindset? Another question are you white or black. I have another friend of mine a Rhodie Charles Cockram an ex Rhodie Policeman who thinks like you. No offense I understand. The reporter wrote a good story.

Sdazo - 14 August 2014

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