Editorials 29.7.2016 08:00 am

Bob reaches his sell-by date

Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe. Picture: (File Photo by Gallo Images / Foto24 / Deaan Vivier)

Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe. Picture: (File Photo by Gallo Images / Foto24 / Deaan Vivier)

When even your staunchest former backers turn against you, it’s time to call it a day.

That self-confessed enemy of democracy and one of the continent’s most brutal dictators, Robert Mugabe, is at it again.

Having brought misery to his own people by ruining the economy, the ageing despot, who has recently faced unprecedented protests from ordinary Zimbabweans, is baying for the blood of everyone he views as a threat.

On Wednesday, he said he would hunt down war veterans who recently criticised his 36-year rule. Mugabe, who made his first public appearance on Wednesday since war veterans said it was time for him to go, said those who criticised him faced punishment.

He openly gloated that the police belonged to Zanu-PF and would be used to crush any protests and his enemies, especially church leaders, who were wading into politics. He was referring to Evan Mawarire, the activist pastor behind antigovernment protests.

As usual, Mugabe followed his intimidation with action. NewsDay Zimbabwe reported that yesterday several armed men stormed the home of Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association spokesperson Douglas Mahiya, placing his family under house arrest in a four-hour blockade that ended with Mahiya’s arrest.

The police later returned to the house in the company of a handcuffed Mahiya and turned it upside-down. Unleashing terror and fear on Zimbabweans has been Mugabe’s modus operandi to cling to power.

The tyrant made it clear in 2008, when the writing was on the wall, that the electorate was set to overwhelmingly reject him and his Zanu-PF – that he would not give up power, regardless of the wishes of voters.

Mugabe vowed to remain president whatever the outcome of the election, saying “only God” could remove him from office.

“We will never allow an event like an election to reverse our independence, our sovereignty, our sweat and all that we fought for all that our comrades died fighting for,” he infamously said. The situation has dramatically changed now.

The nonagenarian is losing support, even among his staunchest former backers, including war veterans. Zimbabweans have finally had enough.

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