HARARE – President Robert Mugabe risks losing the forthcoming elections as a result of poor election messages which have dominated his rallies thus far, analysts have warned.
President Robert Mugabe arriving for a Zanu PF rally in Chinhoyi. Pic: Annie Mpalume
Mugabe has been in power for 33 years and faces long-time rival — Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai — on July 31 in watershed polls being compared to the 1980 plebiscite that brought Zimbabwe’s independence.
However, analysts say the 89-year-old Mugabe, weighed down by poor health and advanced age, has failed to hammer home key election messages on his campaign trail.
This is in contrast to the ebullient and gingerly Zanu PF leader of the past who could hold more than 30 star rallies at his peak.
In this election, Mugabe has reduced his rallies to 10 –— meaning one per province — provoking sharp responses that he has grown weary and is losing steam.
“There is no way the majority of Zimbabweans are going to vote for a 90-year-old. There is nothing new and the mystery still persists why an 89-year-old wants to remain in power. What is so indispensable about him?” political analyst, Ibbo Mandaza, told the Daily News.
“His lack of a message puts him in a tight spot and I think Zanu PF must be regretting why they were not able to remove him as their presidential candidate. They tried to get him to step down in 2007 and they failed and lost the 2008 election.
“There was also a debate in 2002 that if they made him president they would lose. It is the same argument today, and therefore, they are likely to face the consequences,” said Mandaza.
Mugabe, at all his rallies has delved more into the past, skirting real issues which his party would implement if elected into government.
While he launched his party’s manifesto which critics say is lukewarm, the veteran politician has fallen short in delivering bread and butter messages.
Tsvangirai has exploited this, nailing him on key economic and developmental policies which are at variance with Zanu PF’s touted empowerment blueprint.
Analysts say Mugabe has rather chosen the land issue and others like indigenisation and empowerment which have featured on the party’s manifestos for decades.
There is general consensus that this year’s election is also about economic revival and lasting solutions to unemployment levels in the country. Mugabe has also chosen to insult Tsvangirai, whites and the West without telling the people what he wants to deliver for them which he has failed to do in 33 years.
Politicians’ messages should therefore centre on the issue of revival and re-engagement by the international community which will bring about the much-needed investment.
Director of Zimbabwe Institute of Democracy Pedzisayi Ruhanya says Mugabe’s wife Grace is also making the situation worse with her messages which portray arrogance and disrespect for the electorate.
Grace has centred her message on hate speech and vitriol mainly targeted at Tsvangirai whom she has addressed in disparaging terms.
She has openly stated that there is no vacancy at the state house.
“The message that Grace sent was that of arrogance and disrespect of the electorate and the electoral process. She was telling Zimbabweans that their votes do not matter because Mugabe will remain president irrespective of the legitimate and democratic will of the people,” said Ruhanya, in an article published in the media yesterday.
“Most critically, the arrogance, the lack of love, the hate language was very spiteful to the voters. She did not plead for the people’s votes, instead the millions who watched her public display of arrogance could hardly be forced to support her husband.”
Morgan Tsvangirai’s wife Elizabeth on the other hand has been pushing forward the MDC’s policies by focusing on issues addressed in their manifesto.
She has chosen to assist her husband by speaking on issues that affect women as a result of widespread poverty brought about by the current economic situation.
University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer Shakespear Hamauswa said what was clear from Mugabe’s manifesto launch and subsequent rallies were a trend of insults.
“There is a trend of insults from Lindiwe Zulu to a number of political contenders. It is also reflected in the First Lady’s messages as she has also been insulting people, there is nothing that he is promising the people unlike his counterpart Tsvangirai,” Hamauswa said.
“The MDC has a policy document in terms of Agenda For Real Transformation (ART), and they also have a devolution agenda at least.”