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History will judge ageing Mugabe as people's oppressor

The Editor, The Times Newspaper | 2012-02-22 00:31:59.0

The Times Editorial: President Robert Mugabe turned 88 yesterday, and it is clear he is in no hurry to exit the centre stage of Zimbabwean politics.

His excuse - for someone who has desperately been clinging to power for the past 32 years - is flimsy in the extreme.

In all of his time in office and as leader of Zanu-PF, Mugabe says he is yet to find someone to succeed him.

In an interview published on Monday, Mugabe made light of his age, saying: "As of now I am fit as a fiddle. I have died many times. That's where I have beaten Christ. Christ died once and resurrected once. I have died and resurrected and I don't know how many times I will die and resurrect."

Mugabe's boast is an affront to the millions of Zimbabweans whose lives have been negatively affected over the three decades of his rule.

According to Finance Minister Tendai Biti, much of Zimbabwe's economic problems are the direct result of Mugabe's policies and his party's delays in adopting changes.

But neither the African Union nor the Southern African Development Community appear to be too concerned about where Zimbabwe and its citizens are heading.

Former president Thabo Mbeki's ineffectual policy of silent diplomacy did nothing to sway Mugabe or his party.

Mugabe has recently said he would remove President Jacob Zuma as the SADC-appointed facilitator after Zuma said elections could not be held in Zimbabwe before the complete implementation of the power-sharing agreement. This recalcitrance has been the hallmark of Mugabe's term in office and it is doubtful whether Zuma, the SADC and the AU will manage to sway him.

Mugabe recently said he wanted to be remembered "just for what I am, a man, lover of my people and a fighter of oppression".

History will not be that kind - instead, he will be remembered as the "oppressor of his people".

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