President Robert Mugabe, who turned 89 this year, reportedly hinted to Zambian Vice-President Guy Scott that he intends to step down.
Report by Tapiwa Zivira, Online Reporter
The British Guardian newspaper quoted Scott saying, “I think if you asked him, he’d say it was enough. That’s what he said to us a few months ago,”
Scott’s statements come barely a month after our sister newspaper, The Zimbabwe Independent, revealed that Mugabe -who has always publicly exhibited defiance against his old age- looked increasingly frail and struggled to walk as he hobbled on while inspecting the guard of honour.
According to the newspaper, Mugabe had earlier stumbled and almost fallen while lighting the Independence flame when he missed a step and further struggled to climb the steps leading up to the VVIP tent.
This is not the first time discourse around Mugabe’s health, age, and tenure in office has been a source of speculation in the country.
See Timeline below
In 2011, leaked US diplomatic cables alleged that the veteran ruler had prostate cancer and was expected to die within two years.
The information was allegedly divulged to former US Ambassador to Zimbabwe, James McGee by Reserve Bank Governor, Gideon Gono during a private meeting in June 2008.
Last year speculation of Mugabe’s health rose when he made several trips to Singapore, reportedly for medical reasons.
The media was awash with reports that Mugabe had agreed to hand over power to one of his trusted lieutenants, Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangangwa.
Presidential spokesperson George Charamba later told the media that Mugabe had gone for a routine medical check-up.
In April 2011 our sister paper, The Standard, reported that President Mugabe had to move around in a golf cart during a summit of the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) troika on peace and security.
With one bodyguard in front and one on the left, Mugabe, then 87, walked slowly to the dais where he was again assisted to climb up for the singing of the national anthems, reported The Standard.
But, each time such rumours circulated, Mugabe came out in the public, denying the near-death claims and asserting he was still healthy and strong enough to rule the country for another several terms,as illustrated in the video below.
According to the standing Zanu PF resolution, Mugabe- now the oldest leader in the Southern African region- will contest for another presidential term, and if he wins, he will be 94 at the end of the five year term.
A liberation war hero, who assumed power in 1980 at the prime age of 56, has held the country’s reins for 33 years, making him the sole post-independence leader for the country.
Mugabe’s hold on to power, which is mainly attributed to his party’s failure to deal with the succession issue, has continued to hog the regional and international limelight for Zimbabwe as all other Southern African states have gone through leadership renewal.
/> Mugabe’s continued fight for re-election [/caption]
Zimbabwe’s neighbour Zambia, which was founded in 1964 from the colonial British-ruled Northern Rhodesia, has had five presidents to date.
The founding president Kenneth Kaunda, a liberation movement hero born in the same year as President Mugabe, took over power in 1964 until 1991 when he yielded to pressure for a multiparty Zambia.
The late Frederick Chiluba subsequently led the country until January 2002 when he handed over power to the late Levy Mwanawasa who died in office in 2008.
/> Zambia’s chain of power transfer. Slideshow by Tinotenda Samukange[/caption]
Kenya and Botswana are unique in that their current presidents are sons of the founding presidents.
The late Seretse Khama, founding president of Botswana and father to the current president, Ian Khama, was in the same age group as President Mugabe.
/> Botswana’s chain of power transfer. Slideshow by Tinotenda Samukange[/caption]
Seretse ruled Botswana from 1966 until his death in 1980.
Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta, 51, assumed power last month and he becomes the 4th post president of the country.
/> Kenya’s chain of power transfer.Slideshow by Tinotenda Samukange [/caption]
His father, Jomo Kenyatta, the founding president of Kenya, ruled from 1964 and died in office in 1978.
Malawi, whose current president Joyce Banda was recently in the country on an official visit, has also gone through leadership renewal. The country’s founding president, Hastinga Kamuzu Banda stayed in power for 28 years, from 1966 to 1994 when international pressure led him to pave way for multi-party politics in Malawi.
Since then, Malawi has had three new leaders.
African Presidents’ long stay in power
While most of Southern African and other African countries have had leadership renewal President Mugabe’s long stay in power is not unique as President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda has ruled the country since 1986 and Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo has been President of Equatorial Guinea since 1979.
José Eduardo dos Santos (70), has been President of Angola for 34 years.
/> Paul Ndiho- African Presidents who have over stayed in Power[/caption]