Zimbabwe’s Opposition parties have welcomed the move by Botswana President Ian Khama to break ranks with most African leaders in publicly calling on President Robert Mugabe to retire.
Known for his forthrightness, Khama this week called on Zimbabwe’s 92-year-old leader to allow for leadership renewal in the country.
While the ruling party scoffed at Khama’s suggestion and Mugabe’s administration remained tight-lipped, opposition parties roundly sang the Botswana leader’s praises yesterday.
MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu said Africa badly needed leaders of Khama’s calibre.
“This is the kind of assertive and positive attitude that we expect to have from all the leaders in the Sadc regional grouping. The MDC would like to most sincerely thank and, indeed, salute President Khama for calling a spade a spade.
“Mugabe is now an anachronism within Sadc in particular and Africa in general. He is way too old to cling to power. He is yesterday’s man. He should immediately step down to allow Zimbabwe to move forward,” Gutu said.
The spokesperson for the Welshman Ncube-led MDC, Kurauone Chihwayi, said Khama’s honesty should be applauded in the face of “protectionist tendencies” by African regimes.
“Zimbabwe needs honest friends like President Khama. President Mugabe should swallow his pride and step down to unlock the Zimbabwean economy. Zimbabwe is in ruins today because of corruption and incompetent leadership that is using State security apparatus to silence and oppress starving citizens,” Chihwayi said.
Former Finance minister Tendai Biti’s People’s Democratic Party spokesperson Jacob Mafume said Mugabe had turned Zimbabwe into the world’s laughing stock.
“Khama’s pronouncement is a commonsense position that any right-thinking person would have. The world cannot stop laughing at Mugabe’s performance at the UN and his strenuous efforts to get off his plane and onto podiums. We must all collectively hang our heads in shame for failing to correct such an obvious anomaly,” Mafume said.
Former Vice-President Joice Mujuru’s Zimbabwe People First spokesperson Jealousy Mawarire said Mugabe should not be allowed anywhere near State power given his advanced age.
“Khama is being honest and saying the kind of things most Zimbabweans are silently saying; that the country cannot be extricated from the economic arroyo (gully) that Mugabe plunged it into under the Zanu PF leader’s watch.
“Those that urge him to stay on should be charged with treason because there is no greater threat to our national security than the presence of a frail and free-falling Mugabe in the Office of President,” Mawarire, whose court application forced Zimbabwe into an election controversially won by Mugabe in 2013, said.
“These political maggots feasting on a decaying dictatorship should for once be patriotic and act in the interest of the majority by telling Mugabe to step down, call for fresh elections and leave those fit to run for political office to do so in a free and fair electoral environment.”
Khama said Mugabe’s continued presence on Zimbabwe’s political terrain and particularly as leader was a cause of instability in the region.