18 November 2012

Zimbabwe: Deeds, Not Words Mr President


President Robert Mugabe delivered a lecture on leadership in Mutare on Friday where he implored Zimbabwean leaders to be morally upright and principled.

He also denounced officials in his Zanu PF party who subverted the will of the people by imposing candidates.

"We should let the people decide who they want to be their leaders. The whole issue is about principles, principles [and] principles. Morality, morality, morality," said Mugabe in an eloquent address at the Methodist church-run Africa University.

For talking about issues that are at the heart of Zimbabwe's governance problems, Mugabe should have earned plaudits for his speech. However, for him to get all the kudos, he should act on what he says otherwise bystanders will justifiably accuse him of doublespeak.

Mugabe, over the years, has presided over the worst breaches of principle and morality, be it in the observance of the rule of law, in corruption and in subverting the will of the people, specifically regarding free and fair elections and the people's choice of who they want to be governed by.

Election rigging, political violence and corruption are worst breaches of morality and principle.

His party has engaged in, and continues to engage in these vices, even as he speaks against them. The nation expects him to be forthright in his condemnation of these and set a precedent by really fighting political violence on the ground.

He should also embrace security sector reform, repeal laws that impinge on people's right to free expression, and ensure Zimbabweans get a new people-driven constitution, that will lead to free and fair elections.

Above all, Mugabe should consider retirement and allow a new crop of leadership to give the country a new start. The Chinese Communist Party on which Zanu PF is modelled, has set a good example by renewing its leadership every 10 years and setting on a path to really fight corruption.

Mugabe's words would carry more weight if he spoke as a retired elder statesman advising a new generation of leaders than as the leader of a party that needs such a lot of cleaning up.

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