Khama criticism wounds Mugabe

HARARE - President Robert Mugabe and his embattled administration once again find themselves under a fresh regional and international spotlight, after Botswana President Ian Khama bluntly told the nonagenarian that it was time for him to leave office.

Analysts, pro-democracy activists and opposition parties who spoke to the Daily News yesterday also said Mugabe’s public humiliation by Khama on Wednesday, over his continued stay in power, would add pressure on him to exit high office.

There were also widespread sentiments that Mugabe’s unprecedented pummelling by a seating regional head of state would once again lead to Sadc renewing its intervention in Zimbabwe, as  Harare begins to hog international headlines again after a seven-year lull which began with the stability-inducing government of national unity in 2009.

It was also learnt from well-placed sources that Mugabe and other senior Zanu PF officials were “seething” with anger over Khama’s criticism of the increasingly frail nonagenarian.

Mugabe, the world’s oldest ruler and the only leader Zimbabweans have known since the country got its independence from Britain in April 1980, is currently battling to contain rising civil unrest over the dying local economy — with Khama’s forthright views on him likely to exacerbate his pain.

The Botswana leader said Mugabe should step aside without delay and allow new leadership to takeover as Zimbabwe’s political and economic implosion which began in 2000 was dragging down the whole of southern Africa.

Asked by news agency Reuters if Mugabe should accept the reality of his advancing years and retire, 63-year-old Khama responded: “Without doubt. He should have done it years ago”.

“They have got plenty of people there who have got good leadership qualities who could take over. It is obvious that at his age and the state Zimbabwe is in, he’s not really able to provide the leadership that could get it out of its predicament,” Khama added.

Botswana is home only to an estimated 100 000 Zimbabweans — a fraction of the estimated three million believed to be in South Africa — although this is still enough to strain public services in the small nation of 2,3 million people.

South African-based think tank, NKC African Economics, was among those who felt that Khama’s condemnation of Mugabe could open the floodgates to similar acerbic utterances by other regional leaders.

“It is even possible that the Southern African Development Community may be moved to shift its focus from Lesotho to the far more pressing problems emerging in Zimbabwe, where economic hardships, financial issues and currency rows are combining with increasing repression and a growing potential for violence.

“His words (Khama’s) will carry much weight coming as they do from a long-standing democratic state, and the remarks signal the end of quiet diplomacy by Sadc leaders,” said NKC analyst Gary van Staden.

Pro-democracy groups and opposition parties also welcomed what they said was Khama’s “ugly truth” about Mugabe’s continued stay in office.

Politics and governance expert McDonald Lewanika said Khama’s public attack on Mugabe was very significant.

“Although Khama’s take may not be new or unsurprising, it is significant because for sometime and  years, Khama seemed to have made his peace with the Zimbabwean situation, and the fact that he speaks now shows a renewed concern  and  increased loss of legitimacy for the Mugabe regime because without recognition and support of its peers in the region and lacking support of a significant proportion of its citizens — its legitimate claim to power is on shaky ground,” Lewanika told the Daily News.

The MDC echoed Lewanika’s sentiment and added that the political ground could be shifting for Mugabe.

“Khama has always been forthright and candid regarding his distaste for and disapproval of Mugabe’s long authoritarian, despotic and corrupt rule. Mugabe’s political sun has been slowly but surely setting since around the turn of the new millennium.

“The old man is in the departure lounge of his long political career. He is going. That’s for sure. Mugabe has very limited, if any options, left for him. The only viable option will be for him to immediately step down from power and allow Zimbabwe to move forward,” said MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu.

Former State Security minister and for long a close Mugabe confidante, Didymus Mutasa, hoped that Khama’s remarks would lead to consensus among Sadc leaders to persuade Mugabe to go.

“We recently met Sadc leaders in Swaziland as the National Electoral Reform Agenda (Nera). So, we hope that regional leaders took us seriously because it is not a secret anymore that Zimbabwe is in trouble as long as Mugabe continues at the helm.

“The situation we are faced with is very clear for everyone to see. Nobody needs to be told about the abduction of citizens and their torture for exercising their constitutional right to demonstrate. Hopefully this is the beginning of a new paradigm in the region,” he told the Daily News.

Human Rights Watch senior Africa researcher Dewa Mavhinga said what Khama had said was very significant and would spur Zimbabweans to put more pressure on Mugabe to quit.

“Khama speaks the mind of many Zimbabweans when he says Mugabe is too old to lead Zimbabwe and must go. Zimbabweans must do more internally to push for human rights and democratic reforms and not put too much faith in Sadc leaders despite the courageous words by president Khama,” he said.

Apart from the country’s dying economy, Mugabe is facing the biggest challenge to his long rule, with the nonagenarian also struggling to keep his ruling Zanu PF united as serious ructions, which analysts say have been caused by his unwillingness to name a successor, have split the former liberation into two bitterly opposed factions.

In addition, Mugabe no longer enjoys the crucial support of war veterans who waged a violent assault against the opposition, especially in the hotly-disputed elections of 2000, 2005 and 2008.

Khama, who is set to step down as Botswana president in 2018, is one of the few African leaders who have managed over the years to stand up against dictators on the continent.

He was also the only African leader who stood with Western countries in 2013, following the equally disputed victory by Mugabe and Zanu PF party that year, which was dismissed by the opposition as a “farce”.

In the meantime, the rising regional and global spotlight on Zimbabwe has seen former Cabinet minister and South African Reserve Bank governor Tito Mboweni starting what he calls a Zimbabwe Solidarity Movement (ZSM), which is aimed at helping destitute Zimbabweans living in South Africa.

He has donated R10 000 to the fund which will be managed by the South African Council of Churches and a local charity, Gift of the Givers.

“On a different matter. It saddens me every day to see destitute Zimbabweans begging on our street corners. Let like-minded people help.

“Let us create the Zimbabwe Solidarity Movement to help our people. I volunteer to co-ordinate a solidarity programme. In difficult times, people rely on solidarity. Zimbabweans are desperate. We can help. Corporates who do business in Zimbabwe, all of us!

“I will instruct my bank to open a ZSM Fund tomorrow and will deposit R10 000 seed money. All should follow. For accommodation, food and education. As good people, we cannot just pass by everyday as disabled people, blind people, little kids, destitute women beg for money at the robots.

“And we turn a blind eye to this? Time for Solidarity for helpless Zimbabweans! Please join this humanitarian effort. I will, tomorrow, request the SA Council of Churches and The Gift of the Givers to manage the funds and Zimbabwean Solidarity Fund project,” he said on Twitter.

Comments (18)

I salute Ian Khama. May God Bless him for speaking the same voice as the voices of the masses of Zimbabwe. Other Presidents where are you? You seem to have no shame.

white-Horse - 23 September 2016

Ian Khama is a true son of the soil. Southern African leaders have to empathize with the generality of Zimbabweans and emulate Khama. Never call a spoon a spade. Mugabe has never been good at all. Should quit and create space for new leadership. Ngaaende!!!

Smithbetter - 23 September 2016

Clap hands for Khama and bhoo to all other African leaders who never had the guts to say it to Dictator RG and a worse bhoo to all ZANU minions who shiver like leaves and almost wet themselves when they see RG Khama sentiments are shared with many but the cowards who protect RG and do his dirty work are scared Now they are bringing terror to those who now say enough is enough They envy these young ones with guts to tell their god -he must go and stood upto the bully I salute you # I was also impressed with old ladies who have problems walking but persevered and joined in the Bulawayo Nera protests last weekend Its like in your face RG unlike seeing the V President quack in his shoes =when approached by a petition from a prominent activist He could not even be honest Shame on you and you say *Tirikutonga tozotonga* when you are spineless Well Mr Khama keep the pressure up Its appreciated as you know we are dealing with the devil himself here People are dying and will die if you other African leadersin SADC keep quiet Ban RG from your summits until democratics changes are in place

Naphiri Chisayi - 23 September 2016

Enough zimbabweans to b majority want president Mugabe to retire,itz their long held view,are only prevented fr doing so during election,by the youth malitia,the police,the intelligent community,and sometimes the army who beat them into submission.We know that the majority in thz state institutions are also unhappy with this situation but are only commandeered into the acts by Mugabe himself& his overzealeus supporters at the top of thez institutions.The majority concure with Khama over Mugabe's resignation.Therez no much problem with Mugabe but only overstay,his handling of the economy,abuse of office,using the military&other state institutions,to stop the people who want to retire him during elections.But thiz not to say Mugabe hs not achieved n thing in our country,has vast achievements in our country&remain the founder of our nation-but only needs to retire.Itz not the west who want him to retire as he often alleges but the people of zimbabwe.In a free election he wil b retired.His erring wife GRACE has distorted his legacy in recent days

addmore gudo - 23 September 2016

I know for a fact that at least 3 other SADC leaders do not like the Mugabe regime because of all the ruin and suffering they have caused but sadly they lack the courage to voice their sentiments simply because they fear the backlash from SADC and AU leaders who literally worship RGM and act and behave in much the same manner as what he does. They fear it might set a precedent that would threaten their own positions.

Mbewa - 23 September 2016

Mugabe has already thumped his nose on the will of the people on several occasions in the past with impunity. He should have resigned when he lost the constitutional referendum in 2000 but he pulled a rabbit out of the hat by invoking a bloody and chaotic land reform program that will haunt him forever. He lost outright in 2008 to MDC but cooked up the figures, refused to leave office and unleashed his bloodthirsty thugs to subdue the populace. In 2013 he made sure that the election was rigged so effectively that everyone even the MDC were too dumfounded to challenge the outcome. Why would we expect a man like that to voluntarily relinquish office or allow his party to be reformed out of office, as Jonso asserts.

Jaikolu Maison - 23 September 2016

Thank you comrade Khama,i salute you,you show your credentials as world leader.MY QUESTION is where is Grace Mugabe ? the person closest to mugabe ,who seem not even to advice her husband to retire and now focus on bringing up and advicing ana chatunga ,etc and not flying out to singapore to hold birthday parties when our beloved zimbabwe is bleeding to death.

gilbert mombeshora - 23 September 2016

and with the rate at which the 'youths!' are establishing makeshift shelters where there are no ablution facilities, water supply and other basic infrastructure, Chitungwiza has been turned into another Hopley and mark my words: Cholera outbreak is imminent! All open spaces are being invaded. Is this good local gorvenance?

Sascum Order Restored - 23 September 2016

am not worried about DR DISGRACE l promise you are soon as the zanu pf titanic surely surely sink....l will personally make sure that she looses everything.. we will take everything...and we will make sure she is not let with even a teaspoon! make my words!

DR mai mdara vashawuya - 23 September 2016

It is completely without doubt that 90% of African leaders want Mugabe out and that he knows it. What is strange is he does not want them to say it. He is comfortable with their silence and the fake smiles they give him when they meet at the ostentatious and useless fora they often hold, all of which he has no shame to attend, foolishly exhibiting his senility and pedantry. Mugabe has no shame indeed.

Yeoman Thomas - 24 September 2016

I realy dont know what va Mugabe wants to prove.what is it axactly,hanging on to power .Using money mongers like johnathan moyo and kasukuwere.Old women rounded up to show support for what realy?Common sence has since left this man a long time ago.He is way too old.Men n women born in 1975 to now only know Mugabe and problems,starvation,joblessnes,thieving,corruption led by non other than 1st lady herself.Building rural mansion using money ment for the poor.Yes she returned the loot but only after being caught red handed,by a reporter.Shame maningi.A 1st lady of a nation caught stealing.Johnathan Moyo put it very well ,building mansions in rurals ,upstairs buildings in the middle of suffering rurals.Gracelands.

viola gwena - 24 September 2016

Mugabe, Zanu, the army bosses all are just a clueless batch of people who dont have this country at heart. Do you think Chiwenga loves this country, NO, he wants power, money for himself. Do you think Mugabe thinks of the masses who are suffering in this country NO, he wants power, protect power even if there is a citizen sleeping hungry, no jobs, no medicines, we are back to 2008.

batanai - 24 September 2016

Its true Robert Mugabe has long passed the sale by date and should say goodbye. Grace's fake PhD must be withdrawn the following day after the burial of Robert

Peter Moyo - 24 September 2016

The real tragedy is that whilst people like Tito Mboweni are setting up funds to help destitute Zimbabweans in their country, Mugabe and his hangers on are paying, from Zimbabwe's depleted fiscus, destitute and homeless African Americans so they can show support for him in America. This is evil, period.

Max Kufakwejeyi - 25 September 2016

god bless ian khama and tito mboweni

TRUTH - 26 September 2016

Mugabe must die

Benito - 26 September 2016

The same Tito whom Prof labeled non charlant during a t-war.Now he is feeding zimbos. - 29 September 2016

Sometimes advice is very important dont say ndakashaya akandibayira zanhi hero shoko kubva kuna vaKhama

Voice - 29 September 2016

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