PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe is reinventing his image and is portraying himself as a peaceful politician, making him more acceptable to regional leaders were he to win the next election, says a report launched last week.
BY NQABA MATSHAZI
Mugabe has in recent months been calling for peace in the next polls, a far cry from the leader who once boasted of degrees in violence.
The report by Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition indicates that Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and the inclusive government may have inadvertently spruced up Mugabe’s image.
“President Mugabe is no longer viewed as unacceptable and as demonic as he was in 2008 following the violence,” reads the research compiled by Phillan Zamchiya.
The report titled “Pre-election detectors: Zanu PF’s attempt to reclaim political hegemony, says Mugabe’s peace calls have raised questions on whether he was being genuine, but critically they have had the effect of rebranding the president.
“I believe this is just a political strategy to rebrand Mugabe in the wake of changing times and the new democratisation in Africa,” reads the report.
Despite unanimity that the president’s peace calls were quite visible, the jury is still out on how genuine these calls are.
However, part of Zanu PF’s plan is to ensure that the MDC loses influence on regional leaders by portraying the former opposition party as a “cry baby”.
“The interrelated political strategy is to wear thin the MDC-T’s support and sympathy in the region and to procrastinate on implementation of key democratic reforms until they are overtaken by events on the ground,” the report continues.
“It is Zanu PF’s conviction that the MDC-T’s continuous lobby of Sadc on what they believe to be petty issues will make the party lose steam.”
Mugabe has increasingly been rebranding himself and despite his age, he is trying to reach out to the youth, which his Zanu PF party believe will be the swing vote.
‘MUGABE HAS PROFITED FROM THE GNU’
Zamchiya quotes a “key regional civil society leader”, who reaffirms that Mugabe has become more acceptable than he was half a decade ago.
“That guy [Tsvangirai] has sanitised Mugabe and he is now acceptable to the region,” reads the report.
“The message we get as civil society is that Mugabe and Tsvangirai are working together and agreeing on key democratic reforms like the constitution.”
Zamchiya said he spoke to Tsvangirai last month and the premier also concurred that his party had helped clean Mugabe’s image in the region.
“We are the ones who have tried to rescue him in the region,” Tsvangirai is quoted as saying. “But where do you get detergent that can make Mugabe clean?“