Mugove Tafirenyika 6 February 2017
HARARE – Amid the growing consensus within and outside the country’s
borders that it is time President Robert Mugabe retired, opposition leader
Morgan Tsvangirai has reiterated his call for the increasingly frail
nonagenarian to call it a day to preserve the little that remains of his
Speaking in an interview with the Daily News at the weekend, Tsvangirai
urged Mugabe not to participate in next year’s make-or-break elections,
repeating his promise of late last year that the safety and well-being of
the nonagenarian and his family would be guaranteed if the opposition wins
The former prime minister in the stability-inducing Government of National
Unity said even if some Zimbabweans who had suffered immensely at Mugabe’s
hands wished to exert revenge on the 93-year-old, he was now “too old to
face retribution” for the things that his government had done in his
nearly four decades in power.
“I was talking to some African leaders recently saying look, it is not
only an embarrassment to Zimbabweans, but the continent as a whole that a
man who is this old can be so determined to hang on to power, for the sake
of power and his family.
“We are saying you are safe. Your family is also safe. There is absolutely
no one among us who is interested in vengeance and retribution because
that seems to be his fear. We have no intention to pursue a retributive
agenda,” the MDC leader who has suffered much over the years at the hands
of Mugabe’s government said.
Tsvangirai added that if elected to office, he and his party would be
preoccupied with building the country in the interest of all Zimbabweans.
“People are in a desperate situation and there is need to rescue them from
this terrible situation. And if he (Mugabe) were to step down, it would be
good for his legacy that he was not forced out of power.
“I think the opportunity is for him not to stand in the next election to
give room for a smooth transition. It will be very unfortunate for the
country if he contests next year … he has to make a choice between
becoming a hero and a villain because that is what will define his
legacy,” he said.
Tsvangirai’s advice to Mugabe comes as there are also growing calls within
the nonagenarian’s deeply divided ruling Zanu PF for him to pave the way
for a successor, to take over the reins within both the party and the
Analysts have also said Mugabe’s apparent reluctance to retire is stoking
Zanu PF’s ugly infighting, which has escalated over the past few weeks
with two factions going at each other hammer and tongs.
Tsvangirai’s call has also come at a time that there are growing calls by
outsiders for Mugabe to end his long and tumultuous rule.
And as Mugabe is holding on tightly to the seat of power, elsewhere,
long-standing Angolan president, Eduardo Dos Santos – a peer and ally of
the nonagenarian – has just announced that he won’t be seeking
re-election, in a move which brings down the curtain on his 38-year rule.
The firebrand leader of South African opposition party, the Economic
Freedom Fighters (EFF), Julius Malema, recently savaged Mugabe for
continuing in office despite his old age and poor health.
“Grandpa, it’s enough now. You must let go and allow other people to
continue with Zanu PF. There are a lot of capable young comrades in Zanu
PF. Very radical, very clear of where the continent must go.
“Zimbabwe’s situation is bad, President Mugabe can’t even control a spade.
They were trying to plant a tree and he can’t control that thing. That’s
how old he is. He’s no longer capable of discharging his
responsibilities,” the abrasive Malema said.
Last year, the president of Botswana Ian Khama also bluntly told Mugabe
that it was time for him to leave office without delay, and allow new
leadership to take over as Zimbabwe’s political and economic implosion
which began in 2000 was dragging down the whole of southern Africa.
Asked by news agency Reuters if Mugabe should accept the reality of his
advancing years and retire, Khama responded: “Without doubt. He should
have done it years ago.”
“They have got plenty of people there who have got good leadership
qualities who could take over. It is obvious that at his age and the state
Zimbabwe is in, he’s not really able to provide the leadership that could
get it out of its predicament,” he added.
The ruling party is deeply divided mainly over its unresolved succession
riddle, which has split the former liberation movement right through the
middle – with the Team Lacoste faction rallying behind Vice President
Emmerson Mnangagwa’s mooted presidential aspirations, and the Generation
40 (G40) group rabidly opposed to the Midlands godfather succeeding
Last month, highly-opinionated Zanu PF member and businessman Energy
Mutodi, threw the cat among the pigeons when he challenged the former
liberation movement to hold an extra-ordinary congress to choose Mugabe’s
He claimed then that Mugabe had become so unpopular in Zanu PF that “99
percent” of the party’s members now wanted him to resign before the
eagerly-anticipated 2018 national elections, as there was allegedly no way
that the nonagenarian could win elections against the popular Tsvangirai.
“Mugabe must retire. What we must be discussing now is how we share power
in Zanu PF post-Mugabe.
“It’s up to Mugabe himself to be really thankful to his loyalists who have
helped him to remain in power for this long and not the opportunists who
praise him during the day and denigrate him during the night,” Mutodi
Mutodi’s sentiments are also shared by war veteran’s leader and former
Cabinet minister Christopher Mutsvangwa and his comrades, who have warned
ominously that there will be bloodshed if Mnangagwa is not chosen as
Last week Mutodi was at it again, saying that Mugabe’s failure to manage
his succession was likely to backfire as his future could not be
guaranteed under a new political dispensation involving Tsvangirai and
former Vice President Joice Mujuru.
“The opposition leader is a victim of political violence under Mugabe’s
rule and will not forgive Mugabe and his corrupt ministers easily.
“A grand coalition that is shaping up between his (Mugabe’s) former deputy
Joice Mujuru and former prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai may end his rule,
making him vulnerable to prosecution for crimes against humanity allegedly
committed during his long iron fist rule,” the eccentric Mutodi wrote on
his Facebook page.
Mugabe, the only leader Zimbabweans have known since the country’s
independence from Britain in 1980, has consistently refused to name a
successor, arguing that his party should rather follow what he sees as a
more democratic process – managing his succession via a congress.