HomeOpinion & AnalysisNo leader has enjoyed universal approval

No leader has enjoyed universal approval

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By Cyprian M Ndawana

DEAR President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Your Excellency, if ever there was a period in your life that you needed to exercise diligence and foresight, it is now. It is at this moment that you need to be a shrewd reader of human character and be capable of unravelling the facade of intrigue.

As I see it, you ought to be wary of the rising crescendo of affirmations for your leadership. It must be cause for concern that you are portrayed as a darling to all and an adversary to none. But it takes nobility and rationality to figure out the intentions of those giving you reverence.

No leader in the history of public affairs was ever backed by all. All legends, including those of the calibre of George Washington and Winston Churchill, faced intense opposition. They sweated it out to find middle ground with dissenting voices.

Yet, ever since the Zanu PF youth league declared you its 2023 presidential candidate, expressions of high esteem continued to outpour. Methinks it must alarm you that you are being venerated as an infallible human being; a super patriot in a league of your own.

Your Excellency, the deposed late former President Robert Mugabe should have considered his retirement in February 2003, when he turned 79.

He was already showing signs of frailty. Yet, the party propped him up with loyalty.

A barrage of denigrations and insults were hauled at the war veterans association when it protested against him. Mugabe, in his assumed righteousness, unleashed the military on the veterans. This was an unprecedented act of desperation, yet; no one opposed him.

Although it was evident that Mugabe was on an irreversible decline, the party nonetheless urged him on. The party staged the million-man march as a show of support for him. He was given a blank cheque to do as he pleased. Hence, he appointed his wife, Grace to the Zanu PF politburo.

Given that Mugabe was a man of letters, he should have heeded the wisdom of Shakespeare: “All the world is a stage, and all the men and women are merely actors. They have their exits and their entrances.”

He could have avoided deposal had he timely exited.

However, Grace was not graceful in her leadership. She wreaked havoc, tearing to threads anyone she targeted for assault. She launched opprobrium on former Vice-President Joice Mujuru, who was subsequently dismissed from government and party.

It is unbelievable to imagine how Grace summoned the nerve to brag about the dominance of her husband. She had the audacity to rant at a party congress that she would take the age-weary Mugabe to meetings in a wheelbarrow for him to preside over party affairs.

Recently, a Cabinet minister set the trend in motion, describing you as the best boss ever, with the right qualities to lead. And, another minister, who doubles up as women’s league secretary for administration urged party members to unite and rally behind your leadership,

Your Excellency, the Children of the Zimbabwe Liberation War Veterans Association, (ZCLWVA) endorsed you. As the campaign for your five more years trends on social media, and as the pro-Mnangagwa clamour gathers, you appear at face value to be riding on the crest of a political wave.

Yet, as the praises intensify countrywide, the words of Shakespeare, “Lord, what fools these mortals be!” spring forth to mind. It is a national irritation that praise-singing for leaders is in the nature of Zanu PF, regardless of its folly.

If the party were to field a baboon as its leader, as the late former Vice-President Simon Muzenda said, the membership is obligated to glorify the ape. Even as the citizenry in the diaspora is stripped of its right to vote, praise singing for the leader goes on unabated.

Your Excellency, as I see it, the accolades and endorsements you are being showered with are not performance related. If they were, you would not have been cheered for the injurious effects you wrought on the Judiciary by the injudicious extension of the tenure of the Chief Justice.

It was unconventional that personnel from your support staff also waded into the political party arena, with one saying that he needed to finish what he started. As accolades come thick and fast, let them not distract you from the fact that your hour for retirement has come.

These endorsements must not tempt you to attempt to defy odds. As I see it, the sun has already set on your presidency, never to rise again. Methinks it is long overdue that Zimbabwe had a youthful president who has fresh insights.

Casting aside all flattery, you are well deserving of retirement. Decades of service have taken a toll on you, rendering you the best candidate for a long and deserved rest. Like Moses, who stood by the other side of the river, but could not cross it as the Promised land beckoned, so are you.

Frankly, you have gone full circle in government. Despite your claims of a new dispensation, your foundational era date stamp reads April 18 1980. Zimbabwe’s four decades of independence have been characterised by hardships, a horrible experience indeed.

You have the compelling moral obligation to hand the baton to the young generation. It is time the old are succeeded. As the case with the Israelites, it is time a Joshua took over. Like Moses, in spite of giving the law, his most memorable deed was to retire, so is with you.

Your Excellency, it takes courage and wisdom to realise that one has outlived their tenure. Even in our homes, we oftentimes endure the agony of tolerating guests who abuse the hospitality extended to them. It takes civility and maturity to master the social skills for timely departure.

Already, there is a conspicuous scarcity of your contemporaries in the public domain, let alone in private. There are now so few and far between that their count on any day hardly exceeds the fingers on one’s hand. As I see it, this factor is a motivation for your retirement.

With all due respect, close to 79% of the population is youthful, under 40 years of age. It is, therefore, their right to preside over their affairs. Commonly, a president aged 79 is inclined to be of utter ignorance of the aspirations of the youth.

It is my considered view that should there be anyone who would be appalled by my call for your retirement, they would only be remnants of uncalled for resentment.

As Louis Armstrong presaged: “There are some people, if they do not know, you cannot teach them.”

  •  Cyprian Muketiwa Ndawana is a public speaking coach, motivational speaker, and speechwriter

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