Harare – When 91-year-old Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe gave a Sunday speech at the Kutama Centenary Celebrations in Zvimba, opposition leaders seized the moment, hoping to push the aging ruler from his throne.
“I am disjointed,” said Mugabe. “We came back yesterday midnight and only slept for two hours and I have a habit that when something worries my me, the mind preserves it and I jump out of sleep saying it is time.”
Without a moment’s hesitation, Obert Gutu from Zimbabwe’s main opposition party, MDC-T, publicly called for Africa’s oldest current president to step down and let a younger, more capable leader have a turn.
“Surely, it is tragic for Africa to burden the old man with such onerous responsibilities when he is in the sunset of his life,” said Gutu. “Most certainly, Zimbabwe has no shortage of younger and more capable leaders who are able to take over from Mugabe.”
Along with serving as president, Mugabe is also the SADC and African Union chairman. Between these responsibilities and the frequent out-of-country hospital visits the elderly statesman and his ailing wife have required, Mugabe spends little time in Zimbabwe.
Since January, he has made seven trips out of the country, some spanning several days, and is set to fly to Ethiopia later this week on African Union business. These trips have fueled intense debate as the heavily impoverished country’s dwindling revenue pays for these trips.
“It is natural and acceptable that at 91 years old President Mugabe is tired,” said UK-based humanitarian worker and aspiring Zimbabwe politician Barbara Nyagomo. “He just came back from Japan and before he has recovered from jetlag he flies again to Algeria. …President Mugabe must cut down his travel budget and focus on the problems at home.”
Mugabe showed further signs of fatigue during his speech when he mistakingly said his older brother Michael was born in 1999 instead of 1919, which several political analysts attributed to dotage and declared as another reason why he should resign.
Like many African dictators who refuse to step down for fear of losing the financial and military security available only to a head of state, some speculate Mugabe is afraid to retire as he has made many enemies.
Hoping to ease his troubled mind, MDC opposition members released a statement swearing to not harm him if he retires.
“The MDC is a people-centered political organization that will not persecute and harass Mugabe should he choose to immediately retire and retreat to Gushungo Estates,” said spokesman Obert Gutu, who urged Mugabe to resign in order to “save his country from continued economic decline and political paralysis.”