PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe’s decision to cling onto power despite his advanced age and his country’s waning fortunes has stretched his Sadc counterparts’ patience to the limit, analysts have said.Mugabe was last week was left seething in anger after Botswana leader, Ian Khama described him as a liability to the region and urged him to step down.
According to The Namibian newspaper, President Hage Geingob has expressed similar sentiments.
Responding to a question on Namibian policy on Zimbabwe last week during a speech at Columbia University in the United States, Geingob said Zimbabweans, who are unhappy with Mugabe should fight for themselves. He, however, said the international community would not fold its hands, as the Zanu PF leader brutalises citizens.
“Because we don’t go out in public and shout, so that you can be happy and dance in the streets of New York? We have an African way of doing things. I cannot say things to please somebody else, and say I condemn Mugabe.
“We are sovereign countries,” he said, arguing Khama’s public rebuke of the veteran leader was the Botswana leader’s own way of doing things.
While arguing the Zimbabwean problem was a domestic issue, Geingob warned the world would not sit and watch while citizens’ rights are violated.
“We must know that killing our people is not the way to go. If you do that, you can’t expect the world to respect you. They will intervene and tell you that you are doing a wrong thing.
“We must get rid of the days where we believed in strong presidents, personality cults, and that some are (demi)-gods,” he said.
Political analyst, Pedzisai Ruhanya said there were now indications of exasperation with Mugabe by regional leaders.
“There seems to have been secret diplomatic manoeuvres to talk Mugabe into retirement. However, he seems to have rebuffed the advice, hence, the public show of impatience. Especially for Namibia, it’s a real break with tradition because it has never been known to make any comments on Mugabe’s leadership or anything remotely connected to it,” he said.
“The Zimbabwean authorities and Mugabe must understand that they cannot change the course of nature that Mugabe’s physical and mental mortality cannot sustainably lead Zimbabwe and maintain the country’s socio-economic and political interests.”
Mugabe is accused of rights abuses that have earned him targeted sanctions from both the US and European Union, with the latter having relaxed the measures slightly.
Pretoria University lecturer and political commentator, Ricky Mukonza said Mugabe had lost the respect of his younger peers in the region.
“Recent comments coming from Botswana and lately Namibia suggest that some of the Sadc leaders are coming out of their shells to say the right things concerning Mugabe’s continued stay in power. These countries have every right to make such pronouncements because, since the turn of the century, they have borne the brunt of Zimbabwe’s socioe-conomic crisis,” he said.