Mugabe's gaffes increase

HARARE - The woes of old age are catching up with President Robert Mugabe, with the 90-year-old increasingly jumbling his lines in actions synonymous with leaders getting old and falling apart.

While some are choosing to step down rather than suffer long declines, Mugabe  secured his Zanu PF party endorsement at the just-ended 6th congress to be the party’s 2018 presidential candidate, when he will be 94.

He made a damaging faux pas at the swearing-in ceremony of his two deputies and 11 ministers at State House on Friday where he mistakenly referred to vice president Phelekezela Mphoko as the new President. He said, “Mphoko is new president, vice president” before correcting himself.

At the Zanu PF congress last week, Mugabe shocked more that 12 000 delegates and millions watching live on television after he unwittingly chanted the slogan “Pasi neZanu PF”.

This came after his wife 49-year-old wife Grace had ordered him off the podium using a handwritten note. After going through the note, 15 minutes later and seemingly having forgotten he was holding it, Mugabe appeared unsettled before announcing he had been ordered by the First Lady to close his speech.

“My wife has written a note; she says I’m talking too much. That’s how I am treated even at home, so I must listen,” he chuckled before walking off the podium.

Spurning increasing calls to pass the crown to a successor and put the country in the hands of a new generation, Mugabe insists he is still fit to lead, despite his apparent difficulty in keeping up.

Just before the congress Mugabe suffered a serious lapse of concentration, damagingly blurting out that opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai had garnered 73 percent of the disputed 2008 presidential vote.

But minions of the country’s long-ruling leader quickly cut in, forcing the nonagenarian to backtrack, claiming it was a slip of the tongue.

Mugabe’s embarrassing faux pas was made as he addressed securocrats and war veterans at the Zanu PF headquarters.

Before he was corrected, Mugabe admitted that he and Zanu PF had not done well in the 2008 elections, going on to say Tsvangirai had garnered 73 percent of the presidential vote in the plebiscite.

“When we failed to, when Tsvangirai got 73 percent of the votes ...,” Mugabe said before he was forcefully interjected by some securocrats.

“Oh, he got 47 percent of the votes and I got 43 percent,” he corrected himself, adding, “Vanhu (people) made noise. They said don’t worry, elections, no elections. I said we should have elections, there is no winner with this 50 plus  1 percent”.

Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe since 1980, first as prime minister until 1987, and then executive president to date.

Despite the gaffes, Mugabe thinks he can remain in charge despite admitting that the wife tells him what to do.

“I am here for as long as I am still sane, with good memory and will power,” Mugabe said in his closing remarks to the congress.

“I thank God for giving me extra strength. I still have a bright mind; I still have will.”

While he possesses a fearsome puritanical streak, he regularly fulminates against the latest fashions, routinely attacking “guvhu out” or crop tops.

Mugabe’s rule has become paternalistic in the extreme: and his stodginess makes him seem more like a grandparent. Indeed, he is old enough to be the grandfather of many young Zimbabweans who dutifully follow his prescriptions.

Observers said Mugabe’s mental capacities in his 90s is not what they were in his heyday when he took part in the liberation struggle that ushered in black majority rule in 1980.

In recent days, he has shown that his short-term memory is often not as good, his ability to think quickly on his feet, to execute decisions is often not as good, and change is increasingly getting tougher to handle with age.

Turning 91 on February 21, he is facing extraordinary demands that would tax anybody’s physical and mental stamina.

Alex Magaisa, a former special advisor to opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who shared power with Mugabe in an uneasy coalition government that ran Zimbabwe between 2009 and 2013, said it is one of the laws of nature, which no amount of scientific endeavour has as yet been able to reverse, that with advanced age, faculties become slower.

“The President has been highly favoured by his creator because he has lived to an age where most can only dream of and that he has done so as head of State is probably a feat that has no equal,” Magaisa said.

“But even his most loyal and ardent supporters must now surely admit that he is no longer a true representation of his old self.

“The younger Mugabe was erudite and eloquent. He graced the stage with great aplomb and never made the embarrassing gaffes that are now happening publicly and with worrying frequency. These are the kind of things that Kamuzu Banda was doing in the twilight of his long political career. These ‘Kamuzu Moments’, as I call them, will happen more frequently and they are not good for the man’s standing and legacy. Those around him must be kinder and gently manage him off the stage before further embarrassments happen.”

Health experts say half of people 85 and older have some dementia, usually Alzheimer’s. Dementia is a general term for a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life. Memory loss is an example.

He said while people of privilege have better odds because they have access to good food and health care, and tend to lead clean lives, “it takes longer to make decisions, it takes longer to learn new things.”

UK-based Zimbabwean scholar and political analyst George Shire said if he lives to be 90 and he was in Mugabe’s shape, he would be mighty pleased.

“Robert Mugabe does not choose how old he is,” he said.

“What he has always, said is that he will continue to lead Zanu  PF as long as he is able to, that his party wants him to and continue to be President of the country for as long as he has the mandate of the people.  Thanks to new technology, I have seen and listened to nearly all the public speeches he has given and I am reliably informed that he is pretty tough, on the ball and a hardliner in cabinet and Politburo.”

Shire said in Mugabe, he saw somebody who is in control and has gotten even better as he grown older.

“There are times when ageism stands in the way of understanding things as they exist and not how one would like things to be,” he said.

“I think that Zanu PF’s ‘high command’ is in much better shape than it has ever been with a presidium deeply rooted in the history of the liberation struggle, the 1987 Unity Accord and a Politburo and Central Committee answerable to Congress and the party membership. Robert Mugabe’s ability to put his stamp and authority on the party says something about his stamina and capability. His wits are still in place.”

Comments (15)

An insane person will never know that he or she is insane as seen here by all that Mugabe is insane but he still thinks that he is sane and will stick to power and face Morgan again in 2018 elections . It is not so long before he says something very g very sensitive as the gaffes pile up.He is likely during the moment of gaffes going to disclose how he has been rigging elections as he has already hinted that Morgan won 73% in 2008 elections and he is expected during gaffes to mention how he instructed the killings of civilians in who did not support his party.Expect him telling us under the influence of gaffes how some younger men had been poking his wife,I Have seen one old woman in our village who had gaffes disclosing how she bewitched killed and ate her stepdaughter. More is coming just watch this space.

Diibulaanyika - 14 December 2014

George Shire, what have you been smoking to want us to believe that Mugabe is getting better with age after his most recent gaffes?

Mike Hove - 14 December 2014

Poor old Bob time to join your ancestors. Your legacy is so bad that Grace does not know how she will manage the family's affairs post Mugabe. It's a pity Mr Old Mugabe the mampara of the decade.

Garikayi - 14 December 2014

Where is this George Shire speaking from and what is he doing there? Had he been a good analysts he would not try any Prof Jonso style that he is much aware when he says all those things. How do you say the man is in control and can actually continue when he says "pasi ne Zanu PF" at a Zanu congress? I think you must be age mates otherwise no other place would I place your analysis. Mudhara uyu apera kani.

Qawe laMaqawe - 14 December 2014

George Shire unofunga neshure!

Johno - 14 December 2014

We have tried and tested natural herbs from Malawi with no side effects for penis enlargement within seven days, immune system buster, hormonal imbalance, diabetis, prolonged ejaculation,stis, fibroids and many more. for free advice and deliveries please call 0737286007 Now.100% money back guaranteed if fails to produce desired results

dr - 15 December 2014

Professional Consultancy: Tax clearances, company registrations, shelf companies, CR14, company profiles/business plans, VAT registrations, Vendor Number registrations, SPB (tendor board) registration, Accounting and Bookeeping. 0771 419 294

Global Cons - 15 December 2014

Last Friday Mugabe named bed ridden , frail, 82 year old Victoria chitepo as women affairs minister. She was even on the schedule of new ministers who were being sworn in. An embarrassing u turn was made right in front of waiting reporters

vax - 15 December 2014

For the good of mankind we have to help our old man out of power.those whom we expected loved him they dont care about him.they are taking him for a shield that they enjoy at the expense of his health.I dont know but i think our religious ministers have to sit down with him.If our late Bishop Patrick Chakaipa could have been alive i hope that could not happen as he knew well to talk to the President and convince him.

carson Macate - 15 December 2014

FOR SALE HP TONER CARTRIDGES 05A,10A,11A,12A,13A,15A,24A,35A,36A,42A,49A,51A,53A,55A,61A,64A,70A,78A,80A,83A,85A,96A,125A,135A, AND MANYMORE 0772 678 311

GALLERYCARTRIDGES - 15 December 2014

Achazvimam*ra pastage kuti vanhu mubvume kuti akura! kkkk

True Kepekepe - 15 December 2014

The president is now old and too old for that position, he needs rest its sad those greed people wants him to run another mile

general - 16 December 2014

This is primary ammunition for a credible opposition to stir debate and a motion in parliament to declare Mugabe unfit to lead. If our opposition was tactful and strategic they would aggresively attack this Achilles heel, what , with Mugabe regularly visiting Malaysia for treatment, this is a constitutionally valid angle to pursue for an astute opposition.

Sir Seem - 16 December 2014

And the fact that Grace is always on his side is for supporting him kuti asadonha achifamba. This is not love but selfish cruelty. Those who claim to love the man should be in the forefront of having him rest.

Samaita - 17 December 2014

And can you imagine all the people varikutevera guva, mazombie

Muzamindo - 17 December 2014

Post a comment

Readers are kindly requested to refrain from using abusive, vulgar, racist, tribalistic, sexist, discriminatory and hurtful language when posting their comments on the Daily News website.
Those who transgress this civilised etiquette will be barred from contributing to our online discussions.
- Editor

Your email address will not be shared.