3 August 2014

Zimbabwe: Mugabe Must Be Allowed to Go Home and Rest

opinion

As Zanu PF goes to congress in December, many Zimbabweans will expect that President Robert Gabriel Mugabe, now 90, will accept he has had his time and should be allowed to rest.

I am one of the millions that share the view that President Mugabe has built a rare legacy. Zimbabweans cherish this legacy so much they would be saddened to see all of it discarded into the sewer, simply because certain people within Zanu PF are too afraid to lose, not him, but their selfish interests.

There is empirical evidence the world over that those who overstay their welcome will of necessity put their host in a state of perpetual discomfort.

The name of President Mugabe features strongly among prominent men in history, Napoleon Bonaparte, Tshaka Zulu, Benito Mussolini, Nelson Mandela, Adolf Hitler, Winston Churchill, Kwame Nkrumah, George Washington, Mao Tse Tung, Julius Nyerere, Kenneth Kaunda, Samora Machel, Kamuzu Banda -- men whose fortunes blossomed but had doors of those fortunes necessarily closed when the time came.

Some, like the legendary Mandela, left the arena even when millions all over the world wanted them to stay. Others, like Hitler, took their lives because they feared they would be killed by their own people.

Others too, like Banda, old tearful Kaunda of Zambia and lately Egypt's Hosni Mubarak had their political careers obliterated by winds of democratic change. Libya's Muammar Gaddafi even died still clinging on to power when all was lost.

President Mugabe appears stuck in the league of a tiny minority of leaders, almost miniscule to the point of invisibility, who by reason of either misinformation or deliberate mischief, fail to acknowledge the principle of political diseconomies of scale.

There is no doubt that President Mugabe has individually contributed invaluably towards the independence and well-being of Zimbabwe. But then, it remains a fact his contribution towards the collective pain and suffering that the people of this country have endured in the time of his reign, especially in the past decade, outweighs the President's erstwhile achievements.

Many Zimbabweans still remember Gukurahundi, the DRC intervention, Murambatsvina, a ruined economy along with the collapse in education, health, road and electricity infrastructure, extensive poverty and election violence, among other things.

While this is a strong case for the President's immediate retirement, there is even a stronger case for his departure. The laws of this country, and indeed many other places, do not permit civil or public servants to be employed beyond the age of 65.

This universally acceptable position is justified by both intellectual and biological reason -- that all human beings, even those that claim to be in their positions on an election ticket -- are subject to deteriorating mental and physical capacity with age.

It is very difficult to convince anyone, Your Excellency, that at such an advanced age, your capacity for good judgment can still satisfy the demands of millions of young Zimbabweans.

Yet, it is an undeniable fact that the person of President Mugabe has been so present in the Zimbabwean political landscape that it has engendered a strong belief, especially in Zanu PF, that should he step down, the party, the State, and the nation will crumble -- the "no Zimbabwe without Mugabe" mentality.

It is an undeniable fact that President Mugabe and the struggle for Zimbabwe are one in popular memory. And in the minds of the old men and women at Shake-Shake building, the name Mugabe and Zanu PF are one.

All this gives him unchallengeable liberation credentials that come indispensable in every Zanu PF election campaign. That is the reason why each year the President says he would have long called it a day but he stays on because he is being "asked" to soldier on.

WikiLeaks claimed the head of the United Nations once offered the President a lucrative retirement package if he stood down, but his administration has vehemently denied this.

Such a prospect would certainly come as God-given to many Zimbabweans who believe the President is now over the hill and is no longer capable of comprehending issues affecting the country.

There are, however, still many that believe President Mugabe may be old but is still in a good state of health. Some four years ago, Political analyst Ernest Mudzengi said: "The only fear is that Zanu PF is hanging by him and his exit might mean the end of the party. It will, however, be in his best interest and that of the country for him to retire before his health starts failing him. Whatever will happen after that might be catastrophic for the country because there is no guarantee that there will be a peaceful transition of power and that anarchy will not occur."

It is for this reason that President Mugabe should, at the coming congress of his party, consider appointing a successor -- that being the only way a smooth and bloodless transition from the Mugabe era could be guaranteed.

While the emergence of his wife Grace in the politburo is certain to protect and further the Gu-shung-oh dynasty, prospects of her landing the presidency are for many reasons, very remote.

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