AT 92, and being the country’s sole leader since Independence 36 years and the world’s longest-serving leader, President Robert Mugabe says he now feels imprisoned and lonely because he is surrounded by “little boys who ask me silly questions”.
Mugabe told a privately-run local radio station, ZiFM Stereo, in an interview to mark his 92nd birthday that he would want more time with comrades he spent time with in detention during the liberation struggle.
The Zanu PF youth league, as a surprise during Mugabe’s birthday celebrations in Masvingo last week, arranged for some of his former fellow detainees to meet him.
“Oh yaa, I do feel some loneliness sometimes. Around me are just young ones who do not have too much of the past, who look like little boys and ask me silly questions,” Mugabe said amid laughter.
He said his impromptu meeting with fellow liberation war detainees was a moment to savour.
“It was a moment one cannot explain. Tears were welling, I had not met some of them for a long time, the likes of (Thomasa) Ziki and (Solomon) Marembo. I did not know they were still alive. It was a moment to reminisce about the past. There was no time to talk, we just embraced.
“I said time should be made for them to come to Harare, so we can sit down and enjoy ourselves, to talk about the past, the things we did in restriction, at Skombela, Gonakudzingwa and just interact. It will give those who are still alive, some happiness,” the Zanu PF leader said.
In the run-up to the Zanu PF congress in 2014, Mugabe described then Presidential Affairs minister Didymus Mutasa as his sole contemporary.
In another interview to mark his 89th birthday, Mugabe again complained bitterly about being lonely, saying then 78-year-old, Mutasa was “the only person who comes close to understanding me”.
Mutasa has since been fired from both Zanu PF and government together with former Vice-President Joice Mujuru for allegedly plotting to elbow out Mugabe.
Mugabe has, in the past three decades and a half, watched as his peers died.
“They are gone and those who remain, you look down upon them because they are young. They have not had the same experience, the same length of life and, therefore, the same advantage of gathering as much knowledge and experience as yourself,” he said then.
“And so you can’t discuss with them things that happened in the 1930s or even 1950s. You take my Cabinet as it is — there is no one I can talk to about how we used to approach girls or we would go to this and that place, riding bicycles. There are others like Mutasa. He comes close, but others are just children”.