ON the eve of Zimbabwe’s harmonised elections, former President Robert Mugabe called a hastily arranged press conference at his Blue Roof residence in the leafy suburb of Borrowdale Brook in Harare during which he attempted to do a hatchet job on the ruling Zanu-PF party and its presidential candidate, Cde Emmerson Mnangagwa.
In sad, pathetic and comical scenes, the former President was wheeled out to meet an expectant media scrum on the lawns of Blue Roof with his acid-tongued wife, Grace by his side. Clearly advanced in age, Mr Mugabe struggled to engage his audience and needed constant cajoling from “Dr Stop It” to raise his voice or make certain points she wanted the country and the international world to know.
Slumped in his chair with a pillow placed strategically behind him, Mr Mugabe went on a rumbling monologue during which he complained about his “miserly” pension and the alleged “unfair” treatment he was getting from the Government.
He claimed that there was no democracy in Zimbabwe since Operation Restore legacy in November last year which resulted in his resignation under threat of impeachment by Parliament. It is instructive to note that Mr Mugabe resigned voluntarily after it became clear that Zanu-PF and opposition parties in the August House would vote emphatically for his impeachment.
At the Press conference, Mr Mugabe also revealed that he would, alongside his family, vote for the Movement for Democratic Change Alliance and its presidential candidate Mr Nelson Chamisa in Monday’s elections. In the run up to the polls, reports emerged of a looming alliance between Mr Chamisa and the former First Lady, Mrs Mugabe amid claims that she was funding the youthful presidential aspirant in return for the Vice Presidency in a future Government.
Despite spirited denials from the Chamisa camp, the presence of senior officials of the National Patriotic Front – a pet project of the Mugabes – at the final Alliance rally at Robert Mugabe Square in the capital on Saturday put paid to any doubts about the marriage of convenience between the two political formations.
Mrs Eunice Nomthandazo Sandi Moyo – the alleged conduit of finances from Mrs Mugabe to the MDC Alliance – was acknowledged at the rally and made to chant slogans in a clear sign that something sinister is brewing. Mr Chamisa has unconvincingly been trying to swat any connection to the former First Family but the fact that he has run the entire campaign without a running mate and is yet to state his preferred VP has left some convinced that indeed there is a grain of truth to reports linking Mrs Mugabe to the post.
Mr Mugabe and his wife still have unfinished business with the current Government and the former First Lady clearly harbours presidential ambitions.
While her G40 cabal was dismantled and lies comatose in the dustbin of history, she has been hedging her bets and in Mr Chamisa, she has found a willing tool to claw her way back into the political arena. How unfortunate.
Mrs Mugabe is a polarising figure and Zimbabweans would rather not have her anywhere near the reins of power. Her husband’s last minute theatrics in a bid to sway Zimbabwean voters away from President Mnangagwa are doomed to fail because people can see through their shenanigans and cheap stunts.
As demonstrated through their peaceful conduct and thunderous turnout particularly in Zanu-PF strongholds during the Monday poll, Zimbabweans have matured as a nation and will emphatically make that clear with a resounding vote for the incumbent.
President Mnangagwa has been nothing but courteous and respectful of his former boss despite clear provocation from the former First Family.
Responding to Mr Mugabe’s latest stunt, the President said in any democratic space, everyone was free to express their views. “I am happy that both the campaigning process was peaceful, (and) voting today (yesterday) is peaceful,” said President Mnangagwa soon after he cast his vote at Sherwood Primary School near Kwekwe on Monday.
“I have no doubt that the end process of the entire electoral process will remain peaceful. I can assure you that this country is enjoying democratic space which has never been experienced before. “In any democratic space and country, people have the freedom to express their views – negative or positive – so the former President has his right to express his mind because there is democratic space existing in the country.”
President Mnangagwa said he had no problem with engaging Mr Mugabe any time if there was any issue to discuss because the former President was also a citizen of Zimbabwe. “He (Mr Mugabe) is a citizen of this country,” he said.
“I engage him any time not because there is an election or no election. He is a citizen, I can engage him any time, he can engage me any time if there is an issue for me to discuss or him to discuss.”