Sunday, 21 August 2016


Some sneer at his face on posters plastered on trees, security walls and other buildings, while others go as far as using the F-word against him — yet some revere him as a hero who liberated Zimbabwe from the British colonial rule.

Once a colossus who was revered and feared by his rather good-natured subjects — there appears to be a chink in President Robert Mugabe’s armour as opposition parties, activists and even those in his Zanu PF party take aim at his figure.

Analysts told the Daily News on Sunday that the 91-year-old has lost respect of even those in his party because of the way he has allowed those surrounding him  to treat their opponents.

Kent University law lecturer Alex Magaisa said Mugabe has brought the mess upon him.
“Mugabe has always been a figure of criticism from the opposition, civil society and intellectual circles so there’s nothing new about criticism.
“What’s new is that this is coming from those who are recent allies and have previously defended him like sycophants. I think the behaviour of his wife (Grace) have made his office too common and less respected than before.

“Once she started attacking others with his obvious backing, she exposed herself and by extension her husband to counter-attacks.

“She cheapened the office and made it easy game. He himself condoned it and carries ultimate responsibility. It’s not surprising that everyone is taking pot-shots at him and his office,” said Magaisa.

Perhaps not really a punch bag, but Mugabe has suddenly become a subject of verbal attack from across the political divide.

The list of those who have attacked Mugabe’s person is endless, from his former deputy president Joice Mujuru who calls him an “ancestor” to political nonentities like Acie Lumumba, who have used the F-word, fed up citizens are finding the courage to speak up against their ruler.

Former  Zanu PF youth league chairperson for  Mashonaland Central Province, Godfrey Tsenengamu,  even went as far as  urging Mugabe’s daughter, Bona Mugabe-Chikore to advise her father to quit and her mother, Grace, to be more tactful in politics.

“Bona, some of us look at you as the most reasonable and reserved member of your father’s family and I am sorry to drag you into these political issues but I have no option,” said Tsenengamu.
Lumumba, a young former Zanu PF member who headed the party’s tourism portfolio in Harare province on the other hand verbally attacked Mugabe and is in court for his actions.

Even Mugabe’s erstwhile foot-soldiers who helped him terrorise critics, the war veterans, publicly described their former icon as a “genocidal dictator”.

In an unprecedented feat during a war veterans meeting last month, the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association political commissar Francis Nhando openly said the nonagenarian will be a hard sell candidate in the 2018 elections.

“How do you campaign for someone you do not like and who does not like you either. The relationship between us as war veterans and the president has broken down, he and the party don’t like us anymore”.

Political analysts Dewa Mavhinga said Mugabe  is losing the respect of his former comrades because he has overstayed in power.

“Zimbabweans will be within their constitutional rights guaranteeing freedom of expression when they protest about the state of governance and the economy in the country and call on Mugabe as the president to act.

“Mugabe has not become a punch bag, it is only that people are increasingly realising that Zimbabwe’s problems can be traced to Mugabe’s doorstep and are refusing to refusing to buy Zanu PF propaganda that our problems should be blamed on  Britain and America.

“It is time for Parliament to scrap all insult laws and allow citizens to criticise their leaders freely without fear of persecution or harassment,” said Mavhinga..

While Mugabe has blamed everyone but himself, including sanctions imposed on his regime by the West over allegations of human rights abuse, hard pressed Zimbabweans still  blame him for all the ills.

Since 1980 when Zimbabwe attained its independence from the British, Zimbabwe has known no other leader and thus they are no set benchmarks to judge him.

Zimbabwe once the bread basket of Southern Africa is now more of a basket case.
Unemployment stands at a staggering 80 percent.

From 1980 to 2000 the State averaged a nine percent budget deficit with the government spending more money than it was collecting and borrowing to bridge the gap.

By 2000, national debt had risen from a paltry $700 million in 1980 to ten times that in 2000.
In addition the State had been assisted by billions of dollars in aid inflows from the bilateral donors and multilateral financial agencies.

In 1997 the Government mounted an exercise to pay the veterans of the Liberation War some Z$3,5 billion in reparations (about US$1 billion) which was not budgeted and exacerbated the deficit in State funding.

Then in 1998 the government committed itself to a war in the Democratic Republic of Congo at the cost of $1, 5 million a day and over the next three years spent another $1,5 billion on the war outside the budget.

Together these two measures pushed the budget deficit to unsustainable levels and the Zimbabwe dollar began its headlong dash to destruction.

These actions were exacerbated by the systematic destruction of agriculture together with continued unsustainable budget deficits and the suspension of aid and new funding from abroad.

This began to drive the inflation rate and the rapid decline in the value of the local currency.
The State was forced to resort to printing money and by 2008 the local currency was worthless — inflation reaching historical highs for countries in conflict.

The downward spiral has continued unabated to date — a situation that has further eroded whatever little respect left among citizens for Mugabe. daily news


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