Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has described President Robert Mugabe as a liability to Southern Africa, adding that several leaders now wondered whether it would be in the best interests of the region to continue backing him.
Report by Staff Reporter
In a recent exclusive interview with The Guardian, a British newspaper, at his Highlands residence in Harare, Tsvangirai also said in his own assessment, Mugabe had long given up on retaining power due to old age.
The veteran politician, who has been in power since the country’s independence in 1980, turned 88 in February.
“He is now a liability to the region. And, therefore, they (African leaders) are asking if supporting Mugabe is really in the best interests of the region,” he said.
“With his age, he’s frail. To tell you honestly, Mugabe is not in a fighting mood to retain power. I think he has long given up that. He knows that time and tide has gone beyond him.”
Tsvangirai, however, admitted that Mugabe could still play a pivotal role in the transition period given “his grip on the party (Zanu PF) and the institutions of State”.
“Mugabe is part of the solution because of his grip on the party and the institutions of the State. For the sake of his legacy and the sake of future stability, I hope that he behaves in a manner which observes the Constitution,” Tsvangirai said.
The MDC-T leader said although he nearly died at the hands of Mugabe’s men, he had no hard feelings against him.
“He nearly killed me, but what’s the use? The way I was beaten and left for dead, I will never recover that, even if I were to beat him to the same extent. We learn a lot from reconciliation,” he said.
Quizzed on his personal views over the impact of travel restrictions imposed on Mugabe’s inner coterie by the West, Tsvangirai said:
“They are no longer an instrument of leverage. The continuing restrictions are actually stifling any further reform.” Tsvangirai described recent negative reports and controversies surrounding his love relationships as part of a well-orchestrated smear campaign aimed at tarnishing his political image ahead of general elections set for early next year.
“I had two or three relationships and that was blown out of proportion,” he said.
“If two consenting adults have a relationship, what is wrong with that? I didn’t go and rape somebody. I didn’t go and take somebody’s wife.”
He said the media frenzy over his private life since his wife Susan’s death in a car accident in 2009 had been fed by his political enemies.
“Some of these people who are writing about my so-called sexual scandals have a string of girlfriends, a string of wives and children. We fell apart, as human beings fall apart in relationships. It is natural. But to call it a scandal is a bit exaggerated,” Tsvangirai said.