Mugabe must learn as well to walk away without a fight

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President Robert Mugabe

AFTER 37 years in power, Angola’s President Jose Eduardo dos Santos has announced he will step down, allowing a new leader to succeed him.

Comment: NewsDay Editor

This comes hard on the heels of the surprise defeat of The Gambian strongman, Yahya Jammeh in elections many thought he would win.

Jammeh has called the victor and conceded defeat, saying he hoped he would succeed.

This is divorced from the messy succession scandals and bloody regime changes that have been the hallmark of many African nations.

We hope President Robert Mugabe is watching and he will take a leaf from the two leaders, who had ruled for a combined 59 years.

In 2008, Mugabe lost the first round of voting to MDC-T’s Morgan Tsvangirai and what followed was an unprecedented bloodbath.

The same also happened when a government-sponsored draft constitution was rejected by the people in a referendum.

Mugabe conceded defeat, but what followed was mayhem, as the government sanctioned violence on white-owned commercial farms.

Examples abound of cases when this government has resorted to violence during elections.

We hope Zanu PF and Mugabe can learn from The Gambia and Angola that is possible to hand over power without resorting to naked violence.

The era of African strongmen is coming to an end and Mugabe, in the twilight of his career, needs to ensure that when he eventually goes, the process would be smooth with no bloodletting.

The government needs to know that resorting to violence to make a political point is barbaric, uncivilised and archaic.

Political violence gives the country a bad name and vindicates people who are wary of African leaders.

Jammeh had been in power for 22 years and he controlled every facet of power so much that he could simply have refused to accept the election results and pushed out the winner.

But he chose the honourable route and walked away without a fight.

The same goes with dos Santos, who has been in power for 37 years, he could have chosen to die in power, as the country is now synonymous with him, but he chose to walk away peacefully next year.

While these men can be accused of some despicable acts during their respective tenures, the fact that they chose to walk away will ensure that they are forever respected.

The winds of change are sweeping across Africa and Mugabe should realise this.

Mugabe’s reputation is in tatters, but if he were to walk away now, he will ensure that he restores his honour somewhat.

Mugabe can give Zimbabweans a perfect gift by walking away and handing over power in an orderly manner, just as African counterparts dos Santos and Jammeh have done.