European Union ambassador to Zimbabwe Philippe van Damme has sparked a storm after saying that former President Robert Mugabe should be encouraged to prepare spiritually and physically for his final departure.
“Former President Mugabe appeared to be a frail, old, lonely man the last time I saw him. Now he is also bitter. We have to encourage him to prepare spiritually and physically for his final departure, and protect him from possible harm,” he said in a tweet after addressing the Harare Press Club.
Simba Nyamadzawo, however, responded: “Your excellency, with all due respect, your remarks maybe sincere but they are not tolerated in a Shona culture. Please do not play God.”
While some people agreed with Nyamadzawo, one going by the name God of War said: “…Some of us can’t wait to celebrate the day we hear that he has died; and yes, I’m a real shona and not a Malawi cross breed.”
Van Damme responded: “This time I apologize if I have shocked anyone. Those who followed the debate will confirm: in answer to a question on what message I would like to share with RGM today, I said that he is a frail, old, lonely figure who deserved a dignified retirement from public life.
“In his old age he shouldn’t be abused by those with their own political ambitions but be respected. I added that he is a religious man who deserve(s) to be offered an environment where he can come to peace with himself in his final years.”
Mugabe resigned from office in November last year after military intervention and moves to impeach him in Parliament.
He was, however, dragged back into politics through the formation of the National Patriotic Front which was led by Ambrose Mutinhiri but seemed to be fronted by his former lieutenants Jonathan Moyo, Saviour Kasukuwere and his nephew Patrick Zhuwao.
The NPF split after some its members sacked Mutinhiri so that they could join an alliance with Nelson Chamisa’s Movement for Democratic Change Alliance.
Mutinhiri refused to step down but one of those for the alliance with Chamisa, Sarah Mahoka said the deal was that Chamisa would make Grace Mugabe his deputy.
The worst abuse was when Mugabe was paraded before international television, a day before the 30 July elections, to endorse Chamisa with aides taking turns to stuff pillows behind him to keep him upright.