Time to rest, Mugabe told

HARARE - Last week’s matter-of-fact suggestions by controversial First Lady Grace Mugabe and embattled Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa that time is not on President Robert Mugabe’s side have rekindled calls for the nonagenarian to stand down in his interest and that of the country.

Analysts and opposition spokesmen who spoke to the Daily News yesterday said both Grace and Mnangagwa — even though the latter had come under predictable heavy fire from his political foes within the warring Zanu PF — were “spot-on” in their observations that Mugabe was in the twilight of his life and political career.

They added that the seemingly synchronised pronouncements by the two could also have been meant to prepare the nation for Mugabe’s departure from office — all of which necessitated that the frail nonagenarian vacated office immediately in his interest, that of his family and the nation.

Speaking at Murombedzi Growth Point last week, the gaffe-prone Grace said, “Don’t criticise me because you hate my husband. Time will come when president Mugabe is gone, (and at that point) you will regret and wish that the president was around” — in remarks that some in Zanu PF interpreted as meaning that all was not well with Mugabe.

On his part, Mnangagwa — answering a seemingly innocuous New African magazine question on the post-Mugabe scenario — said, “We shall miss him (Mugabe) dearly (when he leaves). He is an outstanding leader and human being” — in comments that placed him in the eye of a humongous storm in the ruling party which is wracked by deadly factional and succession wars.

Zanu PF insiders who spoke to the Daily News at the weekend said the hullabaloo about the well-being of Mugabe reflected the ugly divisions that continued to devour the ruling party, and how many ambitious bigwigs were already thinking about life after the nonagenarian who is increasingly showing his advanced age and declining health.

During the burial of High Court judge Andrew Mutema at the Heroes Acre at the weekend, Mugabe moved around with the assistance of Grace, taking several brief rests in the process as he followed the undertakers.

And during the official opening of the Harare Agricultural Show, Mugabe moved around with the assistance of Mozambique President Filipe Nyusi. In addition, the nonagenarian has also lately cut down on his typically long speeches as the calls for his retirement or resignation grow.

The analysts who spoke to the Daily News yesterday said Grace and Mnangagwa were “merely stating what Zimbabweans already know” about Mugabe’s age and state of health, noting further that the utterances were “shock absorbers for the nation to warm up to the reality”.

“This can be read to suggest that the president is about to retire from public life and that he may not be around for much longer.

“It may be a preparatory message to psyche the nation to expect the inevitable because this may come as a shock to half the population of this country who are aged just about 35 years and have known only Mugabe as the first citizen,” University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer Eldred Masunungure said.

He added that “the prospect of having someone entirely new at the helm of the country might be difficult for the country’s young generation to accept as the majority of them have only known Mugabe as their president”.

Analyst Alexander Rusero weighed in saying Zanu PF was slowly moving away from their usual “denial” mode to embrace the reality.

“It is actually realism creeping in on the part of Zanu PF officials who used to think that Mugabe was irreplaceable. It is not about his health but rather that they now realise that one way or the other Mugabe is on the exit door and that he now needs a successor, not assistants like his deputies have been saying all along,” Rusero said.

Commentator Ivan Vava said it had now dawned on Zanu PF bigwigs that Mugabe had not only reached the twilight of his political career, but also his life.

“It’s an obvious case that Mugabe is not just old but very old. What more can a 91-year-old man aspire for after ruling Zimbabwe for all these years? Probably, the VP and the First Lady are privy to some sensitive medical information which we might not be privy to,” Vava speculated.

Mnangagwa’s remarks on the post-Mugabe future were publicly criticised by the minister of Higher Education, Jonathan Moyo, on Twitter — who went on to say the sentiments were “premature”.

The Daily News first broached the sensitive subject of whether Mugabe was still fit to rule in its re-launch issue in March 2011 — following nearly eight years of its forced and unjust closure by the nonagenarian’s government.

In addition to his advanced age and increasingly poor health, which is commensurate with people of his age, and which often sees the nonagenarian making frequent and costly State-funded visits to the Far East for medical attention, Mugabe is also having to contend with arguably his biggest political challenge since Zimbabwe’s independence from Britain in April 1980 — an open rebellion by many senior members of his ruling Zanu PF party who are impatient to see him leave office.

Other analysts and spokespersons for opposition political parties who have previously spoken to the Daily News have said that it is time the nonagenarian stepped down as he had also allegedly now become a “lame duck” and “absentee” president who was often travelling outside the country on “frivolous” missions or for medical attention than actually governing the country.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC has said it was now time for Mugabe to pass on the baton stick to somebody else, who could stand up to the rigours of the job.

“Apparently, his health is failing and I think he is not doing himself any good by clinging onto power whilst he is now in that state of health.

“It’s time for him to take a bow from the hazardous and extremely demanding job of engaging in active politics. He should start writing his memoirs.

“In fact, I can volunteer to write his biography for absolutely no charge! The old man should simply step down and rest,” party spokesperson Obert Gutu said.

When Mugabe was preparing to give his State of the Nation address in Parliament a fortnight ago, analysts said then that only an unlikely announcement by the embattled nonagenarian that he was retiring with immediate effect would help Zimbabwe and save the country’s dying economy.

Mugabe’s address was made against the backdrop of rising poverty and unemployment levels in the country, with economic analysts saying Zimbabwe had now plumbed the depths and soci-economic horrors of 2008 when Harare’s perennial political crisis spawned a ginormous economic and humanitarian crisis that resulted in the death of the Zimbabwe dollar.

Zimbabwe Democracy Institute director, Pedzisai Ruhanya, told the Daily News then that Mugabe needed to reflect deeply about his continued stay in office and what this meant for the country before he worried about making states of the nation addresses.

“The only state of the nation worth looking at, at this time, is the state of the president. His state is affecting the political economy of the State. The shifting political economy requires that we have a shifting political culture that addresses this shift which has resulted in a huge informalisation of the economy.

“The economy is now hugely informalised. In a normal state, 90 percent of the economy should be formal, while the remaining 10 percent is informal. But in our situation, it’s the other way round. The state requires that government needs to shift as well. But this can only happen when the political status is addressed,” he said.

Ruhanya also noted “the fact” that Mugabe was no longer “a spring chicken” and that he was “way past his prime to be leading any country”.

“The president is 91 years old. Surely it is not permissible that he can lead a 21st century economy. There is a time in an individual’s life when one has to say I have run my race and it is now time to allow fresh blood to take over,” he said.

Comments (30)

Can someone enlighten me please, if the president were to leave office or pass away what happens, what does our constitution say? Who takes over and for how long? By the way I don't wish him to pass away but instead retire.

misty - 1 September 2015

Not that we need any further proof that Mnangagwa is not fit to lead a country 'We shall miss him (Mugabe) dearly (when he leaves). He is an outstanding leader and human being'...outstanding leader and human being, really? Your sense of judgement is sub-poor.

Galore 123 - 1 September 2015

zanupf as having the rigged elected president would have to sit down on an extraordinary congress to elect a new leader. When Mugabe retires or dies then the last acting president would then becaome acting preseidnt for the 90 days

petros - 1 September 2015

Robert Mugabe was not voted to be the president of Zimbabwe. The voters didn't employ him to represent them as their leader, How then do you ask this imposter to RESIGN? He is there against every sane Zimbabwean's will. He is a DEMON and he must cast out. Period!

Christ In Me - 1 September 2015

its high time to revamp manufacturing and farming time is running out?????????????????/

zim - 1 September 2015

I never vote for zanu and I will never.tiri muinjury time game over kwatakabva kure

cde wangu - 1 September 2015

I never vote for zanu and I will never.tiri muinjury time game over kwatakabva kure

cde wangu - 1 September 2015

I never vote for zanu and I will never.tiri muinjury time game over kwatakabva kure

cde wangu - 1 September 2015

@Misty, the first vice president is supposed to take over till elections for a new president. knowing Zimbabwe to be a sitting time bomb I predict chaos and anarchy in the resulting interim period, may God save us all!

muchemberanestaera - 1 September 2015

@petros....thanks, hope that can happen soon because everything is at a standstill because of one very old person.

misty - 1 September 2015

@muchemberanestaera there is no 1st or 2nd vice president in Zimbabwe. The constitution says the last acting president will take over for 90days. If Mboko was acting last then we have a president from the South for a change and if Ngwena was the last acting then the central part of the country takes over.

Qawe laMaqawe - 1 September 2015

Mugabe would never listen to the suggestion that he goes never baba when ever that topic is provoked he simply inserts sticks into his ears bcoz he dislikes hearing that .What we all know is Mugabe will never ever step down mutually bcoz in his head he thinks we are all bobojans who will never run this country when he is alive despite the fact that he is the worst leader to ever lead this country . One of the signs of insane is i know all way of thinking and that is what has put us to where we are deep in poverty .

Diibulaanyika - 1 September 2015

Time to rest indeed! Rest from office, or from life, or both...only heavens know.

Hotshot - 1 September 2015

Tave kusvika panguva ichanyangarika vaMugabe mune zvematongerwe enyika. Kwete nekuti vanenge vafa asi urwere hwekukura. Zvinenge zvisingachaite kuti vaonekwe in public. However it is going to take time for the public to be told what will be happening to the old man and by the time he will still be called Mr president. Before his death drama will happen among those who think can get his top job. This will worsen his health as he will watch unhelpfull and that is going to be the end of Mr Mugabe. But we are still going to exprience some hardships after his death cos it is going to be Chiwenga and Chihuri against Shiri and Mnangagwa. Or Moyo and Charamba against Grace and Kasukuwere. Pray my beloved Zimbabweans the love of money and power is too much in Zanu pf. I foresee fire after this suffering under Mugabe.

Garwe - 1 September 2015

If all what I here is true we will not be having Mugabe any time soon. Well that's sweet news to the ears of many oppressed Zimbabweans but my sincere advice to my concerned countrymen is to acquire all necessary shock absorbers to caution us from the inevitable disaster soon after this tyrant vacates or dies in office. Grace says being Vice President does not automatically mean you will be the next President and this was directed to Munangagwa. Emerson hit back & said sharing a bedroom with the President does not mean Grace will be the next President of Zim after Mugabe. To me this is clear testimony that there will be gnashing of teeth from Zanu PF soon after baba Chatunga's demise. Sadly this will not help the already suffering people of Zimbabwe but worsen their woes instead.

Ndabazezwwe Viki - 1 September 2015

i foresee disaster soon after the old man dies. people like chiwenga and mnangagwa are gointo be our main problem unless of coz someone has the guts to put a bullet in ngwena´s heart

5star General - 2 September 2015

We do not want terrorist elements in Zim Sstar general.to make matters worse if we kill our own heroes then we are fools to the outside world.We should understand that we are people of different generations and thinking but we are such people because we have a past and that past was changed to a bright present that would forever make us people of a very strong recognition not only regionally but internationally.as small as we are Zim we have commanded great work throughout the globe in education,business among other things and all those are fruits of our hard earned independence which our heroes sacrificed their lives for and today because of different views others wish them evil like "they better die" or put a bullet in Ngwenas heart,its a shame.lets be people with our conscience in place,our memory in life and our prospects for the future in works and not buggy chats.

carson macate - 2 September 2015

It is unAfrican to wish any individual person dead. It is also unchristian to pray that someone dies. Rather it is more prudent to wish the old mam some time of existence so that he witnesses someone other than himself governing this nation. So that many will learn that humans are not gods but flesh and blood that should treat each other with respect and dignity

Grievance Mafunga - 2 September 2015

If you can not wish someone who has destroyed your lively hood death then you mighty be insane . It is natural that people would wish a bad person death unless if you are a pretender .Only those who are silly will respect the most foulmouthed person in this country who himself insulted father zimbabwe ,Sithole and Morgan willy nil and suwa one can say lets respect such a thing is being crazy . Munangagwa planted fire arms near farms owned by ziipra forces which led to many people being shot by gukurahundi so if one can wish such a person to have AK 47 bullets pumped into his chest what is wrong about that . .

Diibulaanyika - 2 September 2015

only God determines any1,s death....pluz fut who told u kut kufa kweumwe kunaka kwenyika

tino - 2 September 2015

@ Diibulaanyika.You are spot on my colleague.Mina njengami nxa kungenzekala ukuthi ngifice, uMugabe, uMnangagwa, uChiwenga,uChihure kumbe u Perence Shiri bedliwa yisilwane ngingazama ukuthi ngifake amaspice ukuze sidle kunye lenwele zabo singatshiyi lutho. I really wish these murderers dead without any remorse.

Ndabazezwe Viki - 2 September 2015

Zanu PF has a history of being cruel not only to its enemies but to its own as well. Surely, with all those able bodied man and women what cruelty and callousness to burden this old and tired man with this responsibility, which to all intent and purpose he is long past capable of. Noone ever retires in Zanu PF, they all die in office. Mai Mujuru was very lucky. Ngavamunamate zvakasimba mwari wavo. God loves her.

Joshua Hondoma - 3 September 2015

really will miss baba anytime soon from now,but that will not help us anything ,think outside the box?????? .Do you actually think kuti VaNgwena will take over, if so ,i can dream of tsvangirayi rather

zimbabwean - 4 September 2015

we are given both sides of the coin,if mugabe dies or retires or both,some1 is going to take over from where mugabe will left and obviously from the regime party,either mnangwagwa or grace but that is it,Zim will remain politically poor governed and the situation will be worse.Zimbabweans better pray for baba to remain strong and fit to rule

zimbabwean - 4 September 2015

The economies state is not the political state ,it is too much war veterans beneficiaries

dummy r - 7 September 2015

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