Ousted Mugabe has only himself to blame, says former Botswana president
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DURBAN - African leaders, who were his contemporaries, were responsible for the 37-year reign of recently deposed Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe, according to former Botswana president Festus Mogae.
He was the keynote speaker at the 11th annual Chief Albert Luthuli Memorial Lecture at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Westville Campus, in Durban, on Saturday.
In a frank assessment of the military-led removal of the 93 year-old tyrant, Mogae said Mugabe had overstayed his tenure as Zimbabwe’s president.
“I take the example of sports where people who are gifted excel and reach their peak and then they decline. That happens even in leading, you cannot be a good leader forever, there’s no way it can happen,” Mogae said.
He said there was nothing sacrosanct about two presidential terms and instead leaders should groom their successors to take over the leadership baton from them.
“We should accept, just as we know that we’re born and we’re going to die whether we like it or not, and that’s even in leadership. With most of the things that we achieve we can never be at our peak forever. The tragic thing that happened in Zimbabwe was that president Mugabe should’ve retired maybe 10 or 15 years ago. He would not have had to withdraw had he trained and been understudied by (Emmerson) Mnangagwa and others,” Mogae said.
He added Mugabe had failed to realise earlier that Zimbabwe as a country should move without him.
When radio and television presenter Peter Ndoro, who was chairing the lecture, asked whether Mogae should have called Mugabe to urge him to step aside, Mogae said: “Those of his age should’ve done so.”
He said senior leaders, especially those who ere with Mugabe in the struggle to liberate Zimbabwe from the clutches of the British under Prime Minister Ian Smith, should have told Mugabe to step aside.
He said some of those serving in power under Mugabe had hoped that nothing is ever said about them so that they could retain their lifestyles and political power.
“It was a very unhealthy and tense situation where everybody suspected everybody else, that’s why I don’t only blame Mugabe. I blame many of the people there because it happened slowly but it kept on getting worse,” Mogae said.
He said it was vital to set up strong institutions to circumvent human weaknesses and greed by those in power.