That at 93, President Robert Mugabe is too old to effectively run a country must be common cause. But there are, as always expected, other people who view this fact of life as untrue, mischievous, criminal and even blasphemous.
Comment: The Standard Editor
People, like Mugabe’s spokesperson, George Charamba, will seek to dismiss the clear evidence pointing to the president’s growing incapacity to lead the country, with unhelpful explanations which only serve to bring more questions to the logic of Mugabe’s continued stay in office.
The two human faculties of sight and motion are critical in an individual’s ability to be a leader of any group of people — let alone a government. Charamba admits that Mugabe is now hard of seeing and confirms this infirmity is related to his advanced age, but does not see this as reason enough for the president to step down.
Reports abound too, of Mugabe literally scrabbling for his other faculties and that his physique is failing him badly. He’s now said to struggle to climb stairs and to constantly require handholding while walking in public. His wife Grace is said to have taken this responsibility and it is said she is getting very worried.
While the easy solution to this Mugabe predicament would be retirement into lavish comfort at a place of his choice, it appears the president is unable to do so because of security uncertainties for his young family. He has also said he trusts no one other than himself to run the country well.
There is also a school of thought that says there are people who are forcing him to carry on because he is the only one who can protect them and their ill-gotten wealth. This, however, is a hard to sell proposition given Mugabe is not an easy pushover — young or old, infirm or otherwise.
But, the fact which cannot be denied, or debated, or defended, is that Mugabe is now too old to run a country —let alone Zimbabwe which is down with complex economic and political challenges. The president must accept that he has had his time and should be allowed to go home and rest.
There is empirical evidence the world over that anybody, including presidents, who overstay their welcome, will of necessity put their host in a state of perpetual discomfort. Mugabe appears stuck in the league of a tiny minority of leaders, who by reason of either misinformation or deliberate mischief, fail to acknowledge the principle of political diseconomies of scale.
There is no doubt at all that Mugabe has individually contributed invaluably towards the independence and well-being of Zimbabwe. But then, it remains a fact his contribution towards the collective pain and suffering that the people of this country have endured in the time of his reign, outweigh Mugabe’s erstwhile achievements.
It is very difficult to convince anyone that at 93, Mugabe’s capacity for good judgement can still satisfy the demands of millions of young Zimbabweans.
The tragedy, however, is that the person of Mugabe has been so present in the Zimbabwean political landscape that it has engendered a strong belief, especially in Zanu PF, that should he step down, the party, the state, and the nation will crumble — the “no Zimbabwe without Mugabe” mentality. All this gives Mugabe unchallengeable credentials that come indispensable in every Zanu PF election campaign.
That is the reason why Mugabe continues to say he would have long called it a day but he stays on because he is being “asked” to soldier on, age regardless. The truth, however, is that many Zimbabweans believe the president is now over the hill and is no longer capable of comprehending issues affecting the country.
It is our considered view that it would be in Mugabe’s best interest and that of his family and the country for him to retire before his health fails him completely.
Whatever will happen after that might be catastrophic for the country because there is no guarantee that there will be a peaceful transition of power and that anarchy will not occur.