HARARE – A former Zanu PF youth leader has laid into 92-year-old Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe whom he described as an “outdated, self-centred and power-hungry ruler”.
Mugabe and his Zanu PF party have ruled Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980.
Godfrey Tsenengamu, a former Zanu PF provincial youth chairperson for Mashonaland Central, on Thursday said he now disliked Mugabe “the same way he dislikes me and you”.
Zimbabweans hit by a major economic meltdown have asked Mugabe to step down in the interests of the country, which has a staggering unemployment rate of more than 70 percent.
Many companies have closed under the weight of Mugabe’s indigenisation policy that requires foreign owners to cede half their stakes to locals.
In an unusual move, Tsenengamu implored the president’s daughter Bona to engage her nonagenarian father and “make him see reason”.
The former youth leader urged Bona to persuade her father to step down while there were “still a few people” that respect him “for there shall be none soon”.
The crescendo of calls for the nonagenarian, who has been in power for 36 years, to step down are growing louder by the day. On Wednesday riot police clashed with protesters in the capital Harare. Some protesters carried placards that asked God to “take” Mugabe.
The latest protests were sparked by resistance to the cash strapped government’s decision to introduce bond notes that they want to use to ease the shortage of US dollars the currency favoured in Zimbabwe.
On Thursday, Tsenengamu, who was suspended from Zanu PF in 2014 before being booted out last year, said Mugabe had passed his “best before date” and that “things are falling apart around him”.
“I was a blind loyalist of Mugabe … I could not see that I was being used by Mugabe as I thought that I was defending him in the genuine cause and interest of the party, which is the same way he is using others currently who think that they are defending him.”
Tsenengamu said by defending Mugabe, Zanu PF members were unwittingly “grooming and nurturing another Ian Smith who would turn to hound us”. Smith was the last white ruler of Rhodesia before it became Zimbabwe.
“I have learnt that Mugabe is the real force behind all the problems bedeviling the nation and the party though he pretends otherwise,” lamented the axed Zanu PF youth leader.
“He doesn’t practice what he preaches on unity and tactfully deceives his prey while he sends juniors to harass them while he plays smart … I know for a fact that he is also behind the current turbulence and disorder in the party.”
Political analyst Pedzisai Ruhanya said Mugabe was soiling his legacy.
“The tragedy with Mugabe lies in the fact that at his age of 92, that kind of politics is not in the interest of himself, in the interest of his legacy, and in the interest of his children,” Ruhanya said.
He said there was now serious discontent within Zanu PF leadership, mainly fueled by Mugabe’s “refusal to cede power” or have a succession plan “since he wants to promote a family dynasty”.