HARARE, Zimbabwe (PANA) - A leading Zimbabwean academic on Saturday described all three candidates in the March 16-17 presidential elections as "tired old men" who should have retired from politics a long time ago.
Political Scientist John Makumbe told a workshop on democracy, organised by the Zimbabwe Human Rights Organisation (ZIMRIGHTS) in Harare, that the forthcoming presidential elections highlighted a leadership crisis that the country was currently experiencing.
Incumbent President Robert Mugabe, 72, is being challenged by retired Bishop Abel Muzorewa, 71, and Reverend Ndabaningi Sithole, who will be 76 years old in July.
"All the three presidential candidates are tired, old men who should have retired from active politics years ago to allow the nation to be led by younger, more vibrant people who have the energy and who are full of new ideas of developing our country," said Makumbe.
All of them, he said, had been at the helm of their respective political parties for decades, and the parties are like pieces of personal property to these leaders.
Makumbe castigated Muzorewa for "betraying" the people by signing an internal agreement with former Prime Minister Ian Smith which resulted in the short-lived Zimbabwe-Rhodesia government of 1979.
During that time, and with Muzorewa as prime minister, Rhodesian forces carried out cross-border raids into Mozambique and Zambia, and bombed refugee and guerilla camps killing thousands of them.
Muzorewa denied responsibility.
"Muzorewa can deny responsibility for these massacres as much as he likes, he is still to blame for them because he was the prime minister at that time. What you do today in politics, can have serious implications on who you will be tomorrow.
"In politics, people tend to have longer memories than elephants, and they are even far less forgiving than these magnificent creatures," said Makumbe.
Sithole, he said, had an equally unimpressive track record, with a political record riddled with policy shifts and sometimes unrealistic promises which no sane Zimbabwean could believe.
"After backing down from a radical stance during the liberation struggle, then joining Muzorewa in negotiating with Smith and his ilk regarding the internal settlement, Sithole also ran for the 1980 elections but could not win even a single seat in parliament.
"He left the country for the United States of America where he stayed for some years before returning with a promise to remove the Mugabe government and allocate 600 zimdollars (66.66 USD) and some two acres of land to every Zimbabwean. No serious Zimbabwean believed any of these utopian promises," said Makumbe.
For Mugabe, he said, the political record was probably just as unimpressive as the other two.
"Nearly 16 years after (Mugabe) ascended to executive position in the Zimbabwe body politic, the nation is now reeling under the pressure of mis-management of public affairs, poorly formulated and badly implemented policies, lack of funds and rampant corruption among the top civil servants," said Makumbe.
He, however, predicted that Mugabe would win the elections.
"President Mugabe will definitely win the forthcoming elections with whatever terminology the state media may choose to select this time - landslide, overwhelming et cetera," said Makumbe.
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