Jonathan Moyo, the Higher and Tertiary Education minister, has reacted angrily to people critical of President Robert Mugabe’s continued hold on power, saying the 92-year-old statesman is crucial for Zimbabwe’s stability, national survival and economic prosperity.
Writing in the weekly Zimbabwe Independent on Friday, Moyo equated dissent aimed at Mugabe’s 36-year-old rule to demonization.
He said those calling on Mugabe to leave office must “go hang” because he was elected into power by Zimbabweans under the constitution adopted in 2013.
“Zimbabweans cannot hope to improve the country’s operating environment and secure a better future by demonising and dehumanising a leader elected on the basis of a new constitution and who embodies the ideals and legacy of Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle and its historic gains since 1980. That should be a no no!
“To demonise him (Mugabe) is to dehumanise him and that dreadful practice is necessarily harmful to the country’s permanent interests in terms of stability, national survival and economic prosperity,” wrote Moyo. .
The former government spindoctor said pushing for Mugabe’s exit was unconstitutional.
“If there is one inescapable reality to interrogate without fear or favour today, it is that Zimbabweans have reached a moment of truth to come to terms with the fact that Zimbabwe’s national survival and economic prosperity are inextricably intertwined first with President Robert Mugabe’s constitutional leadership and his liberation legacy such that the former is unachievable without the latter,” he added.
Since July, thousands of Zimbabwean citizens and political parties have taken to the streets to express their anger at Mugabe’s leadership failure, corruption, lack of meaningful electoral reform and unpopular policies.
Government used security agencies to suppress the protests and even banned the holding of demonstrations in central Harare that had become the theatre for violent clashes with the police.
Moyo hinted that some sections within his party, the ruling Zanu PF, were part of the “regime change agenda” manifesting through protests, and also attacked western embassies as well the Botswana president, Ian Khama, for speaking out against human rights abuses and bad leadership.
“Mugabe’s leadership of the country and government is an intrinsic product of the new constitution, which provides in Section 88(1) that, “executive authority derives from the people of Zimbabwe and must be exercised in accordance with this constitution
“Consequently, the motley crew of regime changists and successionists who thoughtlessly say Mugabe must go are enemies of Zimbabwe’s new constitution.
“As such, the Khamas of this world and their hopeless lot must be told in no uncertain terms to go hang. This is because their stance seeks to subvert constitutional democracy in Zimbabwe by overturning not just constitutionality in terms of the letter of the law, but also by undermining constitutionalism in terms of the spirit of the law and its supportive conventional practice,” said Moyo.
His sentiments, though, are unlikely to find traction because he has in the past called on Mugabe to go, describing him as a threat to national security for overstaying in power.
Between 2007 and 2010, Moyo was a rabid critic of Mugabe, using the private media to attack the aged president.
“Perennial wisdom from divine revelation and human experience dictates that earthly things great or small beautiful or ugly, good or bad, sad or happy, foolish or wise must finally come to an end. It is from this sobering reality that the end of executive rule has finally come for Robert Mugabe who has had his better days after a quarter of a century in power,” he said at one time.
He added: “That Mugabe must now go is thus no longer a dismissible opposition slogan but a strategic necessity that desperately needs urgent legal and constitutional action by Mugabe himself well ahead of the presidential election scheduled for March 2008 in order to safeguard Zimbabwe’s national interest, security and sovereignty.”
He also wrote: “President Mugabe has no reason whatsoever to continue in office as that is no longer in his personal interest and is most certainly not in the national interest. He just must now go and the fundamental law of the land gives him a decent constitutional exit that he must take while he is still able to do so to save the nation and preserve his legacy,” he also said.
Moyo is linked to a Zanu PF faction, Generation 40, that observers say is supporting Mugabe’s continued stay in power for fear that if he goes, its members would be exposed to a rival ruling party camp, Team Lacoste, led by Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa. Nehanda Radio