Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s octogenarian president, has become a liability and must be replaced urgently because he is unable to stay awake in vital meetings, one of the country’s senior politicians has said.
Welshman Ncube, leader of the smaller of the MDC’s two factions in uneasy coalition with Mr Mugabe’s Zanu PF since 2009, complained that Mr Mugabe’s penchant for napping was making Zimbabwe a laughing stock.
He claimed that the 88-year-old president, who has led Zimbabwe since independence in 1980, had tobe woken up by Michael Sata, the Zambian President and his staunch ally, during one session of the recent Southern African Development Community summit in Maputo, Mozambique.
One of the main topics up for discussion at the summit was Zimbabwe’s progress towards a referendum on a new constitution and elections expected next year.
“If you are strong and young, you sleep in a dignified way, but his whole body collapses when he sleeps,” he told supporters at a rally near the southern city of Bulawayo on Saturday.
“You sleep to a point that you are woken up by an equally old Sata as early as 9am, who would tell other leaders: ‘let us wake Mugabe he is sleeping’. You think that person can rule Zimbabwe?”
The outburst by Professor Ncube, who is also Minister of Industry and Commerce, is rare among Zimbabwean politicians who generally maintain a polite silence about Mr Mugabe’s well-known tendency to doze.
But Prof Ncube said the issue was one of national importance and had to be addressed.
“The question is when we remove Mugabe, who we will replace him with? We need fresh leaders with power and strength who you do not have to look at and check if they are still awake,” he said.