Saturday, September 24, 2016

ZIMBABWE HERALD EDITORIAL: Come on Reuters Spoilsports, Stuff It!
BOTSWANA celebrates its Golden Jubilee on September 30 and we wish the Batswana all the best as they reflect on the past and introspect on the future of their country. And we know on that special day, they will pay homage to their founding fathers among them the incumbent president’s father Sir Seretse Khama.We share more than just membership of Sadc and the African Union with our brothers to the South West, but some of our people and communities that were cut-off from each other due to colonial boundaries that our forebears had no role in drawing as they were not party to the Berlin Conference of 1884/5 that partitioned Africa for easy plunder.

Despite the resultant physical barriers, many of our people have maintained and strengthened ties through inter-marriages.

So September 30 is as much a day for the Batswana as it is for Zimbabwe which is why we take issue with anyone trying to spoil it, particularly a story carried by Reuters that purports to quote Batswana leader Retired Lieutenant-General Seretse Khama Ian Khama as calling on President Mugabe to step down ostensibly because he is too old to preside over Zimbabwe.

We would like to believe that Reuters misquoted the Batswana leader and just like the brigands who drew the colonial borders that separate our people and communities, wanted to create a chasm between Zimbabwe and Botswana ahead of Botswana’s Golden Jubilee celebrations to which President Mugabe is invited.

We thus call on our brothers and sisters in Gaborone to set the record straight.

However, should the Reuters story be true and for the avoidance of doubt and the benefit of opposition parties in Zimbabwe that have been quick to laud the Reuters story, which we call a Reuters story till the Office of the Presidency of Botswana confirms otherwise, President Mugabe’s age has never been an issue in Zimbabwe which is why our Constitution has no upper-age restriction for the Presidency.

Zimbabweans value President Mugabe’s consistency of leadership and vision that have made Zimbabwe a focal point of stolid resistance to all forms of colonial subjugation.

If age was an issue for leadership, our Constitution would certainly have a proviso and the millions of Zimbabweans who endorsed President Mugabe in the July 31, 2013 harmonised polls would have said otherwise.

President Mugabe is a revered senior statesman in Africa, the last man standing from the venerated class of African nationalists who spearheaded the decolonisation of the continent and is today showing the way to holistic independence for the whole developing world.

This is why his age has not been an issue in Sadc or the African Union, which he both chaired as recent as 2015.

It is certainly not an issue for the ruling Zanu-PF that has endorsed him for the 2018 harmonised elections and the millions of Zimbabweans who continue to value and cherish his leadership.

In fact only this week, we saw Diaspora Africans — under the banner of the December 12 Movement — march through the streets of New York in appreciation of President Mugabe’s visionary leadership.

The fact that detractors harp about President Mugabe’s age as if, like the mythical Benjamin Button, they age backwards themselves, shows that they have precious little to fault him.

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