STAFF WRITER 27 May 2017
HARARE – Opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) leader Tendai Biti has
slammed President Robert Mugabe, labelling the 93-year-old as the “king”
and “Pope of all African dictators who just but created a crisis that
needs dynamic leadership to deal with”.
The former Finance minister told his supporters in Bulawayo at an Africa
Day commemoration event on Thursday that Mugabe – seen as a hero by some
on the continent for fighting to end British rule in Zimbabwe in 1980 and
repossessing land from the colonialists – had presided over an economic
meltdown marked by cash shortages, corruption and the breakdown of the
rule of law.
Biti said Mugabe was the king of a coterie of Africa’s longest-serving
dictators, including Gnassingbe Ayadema who presided over Togo for 38
years, Omar Bongo of Gabon who oppressed his people for decades only to
throne his son Ali Bongo Ondimba as his successor, Mobutu Seseko who had
to be chased away only to die in exile and Idi Amin who maimed and killed
He said Mugabe was the king of this bunch of “little-big men,” adding that
the nonagenarian’s “balance sheet reflects mediocrity, recklessness and
“All these little-big men were evil but Mugabe is the headmaster, he is
their vice chancellor, Mugabe is the Pope of all African dictators who
just but created a crisis that needs dynamic leadership to deal with,”
He added that there was no alternative to coalescing and confronting
“Mugabe’s dictatorship” as a united force.
Biti spoke as Mugabe’s rivals are moving to deny the veteran ruler another
term in office.
Mugabe, one of the last of the generation of African nationalists that
sought the overthrow of white colonialists, has run Zimbabwe since 1980.
He was first prime minister then, and became president in 1987.
The opposition has said it fears that Mugabe’s officials will rig the 2018
poll to extend his 37-year rule, as they have been accused of doing in
In December, Mugabe’s ruling Zanu PF party confirmed him as its candidate
for the next presidential election expected in mid-2018, when he will be
His long-rival Morgan Tsvangirai, 65, who was Zimbabwe’s prime minister in
an uneasy coalition government with Mugabe from 2009 until 2013, has said
he and Joice Mujuru, who was Mugabe’s deputy for a decade until she was
fired in 2014, together with other opposition leaders, would seek to form
a coalition government to bring political change.
“A coalition will give Zimbabweans a fighting chance, we must learn from
what the Kenyans did, we must also learn from what the Gambians did,” Biti
He said the next election battle must be focused on issues affecting the
long-suffering masses, because Mugabe is no longer a factor.
“The election agenda must be to create a transformational democratic
developmental State which can lift the masses from poverty, this economy
can grow at seven percent per annum, which means a $100 billion economy in
about 10 years is possible,” Biti said.
Apart from dealing with the economic woes, he said a new democratic
leadership needed to combat corruption, which has placed a premium on the
economy, ensure growth is even and inclusive by implementing devolution of
power as enshrined in the Constitution, rebuild the social contract,
complete the unfinished business of the Constitution by repealing the
imperial powers of the president.
Biti said the new leadership must also ensure there is rule of law, put an
end to the land question by conducting an ownership audit and giving title
to farm occupants to ensure they can borrow and be productive, ensure
national healing by putting in place the National Peace and Reconciliation
Commission and end Zimbabwe’s isolation by proper engagement.