PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe is set to take over the African Union (AU) leadership tomorrow. Because he is the current Sadc chairman, nothing bars him from simultaneously taking the helm of both while also running troubled Zimbabwe.
Although human rights groups argue that Mugabe, who turns 91 in three weeks’ time, will send the wrong message to Africa’s citizens, it is likely that his peers will vote for him to lead the AU for the next 12 months, during which his meticulously planned political comeback will be one of the most complete in modern history.
Regarded as a pariah in the West and in human rights circles, he unfortunately remains a liberation hero in some parts of Africa.
Regrettably, Mugabe’s biggest problem has been his indifference to Zimbabwe’s economic meltdown.
The President doesn’t seem to understand the gravity of the challenges Zimbabweans are going through. He’s far removed from reality and with 10 elections in Africa this year, Mugabe, who has trampled on people’s human rights in Zimbabwe the greater part of his 35-year rule, will definitely not add any value to society.
Mugabe has stayed in power largely through election rigging and the arrest and intimidation of opponents. His re-election in the disputed and violent 2008 poll was especially controversial.
But he has company in the AU. Hence, his appointment simply shows the AU is a “dictators’ club” given Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo and Angola’s Jose Eduardo dos Santos have been in office longer than Mugabe himself.
Besides, Mugabe is also surrounded by the most decorative First Lady Grace, who is always amassing wealth for her family and gallivanting than to develop Zimbabwe, itself a sad development for a person who prefers the moniker “Mother of the Nation”.
The combination of Mugabe and his wife has no doubt damaged the Zimbabwe brand. By their actions, Mugabe and his wife are determined to milk Zimbabwe dry while millions of people suffer from their misrule; and surely the ageing leader must be stopped.
How will he superintend free and fair elections in other African nations when he has failed in that regard himself? Does he have the moral ground to push for violence-free elections yet his own elections have been questioned?
Sadly, Mugabe, Africa’s oldest statesman, has even indicated his willingness to contest the 2018 elections on his ruling Zanu PF ticket. Yet, he will be 94. How sad!
It is time for Mugabe to go and pave way for others, yet he continues to allow himself to be abused home and away. Term limits are there for a reason — to encourage fresh ideas and guard against any single leader becoming indispensable.
It is unpalatable truth that Mugabe has taken the Presidency as a career rather than a job. And, how can such a mean individual lead the whole of Africa? If anything, African leaders are culpable for whatever damage Mugabe continues to inflict on his people.
Zimbabweans do not feed on radicalism, nationalism, sloganeering, revolutionarism and Zanuism, but must benefit from good policies. One wonders why Mugabe, who appears to be living in the past, continues to hang on rubbing shoulders with younger leaders as if Zimbabwe does not have capable leaders.
He needs to be reminded that he should show maturity and follow the Zambian democratic example of shunning violence and rigging. Isn’t Zambia good enough an example for Mugabe given from 1992, that country has had five presidents — thanks to term limits!
Mugabe is surely a discomfiture to the Zimbabwe and Africa we want.