By Daily News Editorial
When a close friend who is a legislator called me on Tuesday, September 15, 2015 to tell me that President Robert Mugabe had just finished re-reading his August 25, 2015 State of the Nation Address (Sona) purporting that it was his speech to open the second session of the 8th Parliament of Zimbabwe, I wondered what kind of a fiction script the honourable member was trying to create.
I immediately called other honourable members that I know to verify this kind of “crazy” joke but to my surprise everyone I called confirmed that indeed Mugabe had just finished reading a wrong speech and thanked the honourable members for listening to his stale text.
It also came as a shock that honourable members from Zanu PF ululated and clapped hands as Mugabe read his Sona address for the second time in three weeks as if they were hearing the import of this text for the first time.
I began to question the kind of parliamentarians we have in Zanu PF and wondered at the level to which they have taken their bootlicking.
Surely, how could grown-up men and women, PhD holders and professors clap hands when it was evident the number one citizen, president of the country, chairman of cabinet, commander-in-chief of the defence forces and chancellor of all universities was exhibiting very serious signs of dementia in the august house?
Even if someone was to write a fiction script and submit it to a producer exactly capturing what happened in the Parliament of Zimbabwe on Tuesday, September 15, 2015, that the same producer would not have been wrong to accuse the script writer of going beyond the realm of fiction by imagining that a whole president of a country would forget completely, the contents of a speech he gave exactly three weeks ago to an extent that he would read it again thinking it was a new document.
This stuff is unbelievable, even in the realm of fiction and to imagine that it happened in our Parliament really boggles the mind. If this is the stuff that happens in our Parliament, do we really expect foreign governments, businesspeople and other nations to take us seriously?
If Mugabe could not remember anything from the 1805 words contained in his Sona speech three weeks ago, is there any guarantee that he still remembers a thing from the 12 918 worded Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (ZimAsset)?
The gaffe in Parliament clearly shows that we have a president who desperately needs help in the form of persuasion to quit.
When he fell at the airport at the beginning of the year, we thought it was just a mishap, and that maybe it was an indication that his body was slowly succumbing to the effects of his 91-year-long sojourn on this planet but still believed that his cognitive power was still intact and therefore, it was still alright for him to continue presiding over the affairs of government.
But his latest show in parliament presented Zimbabwe with a new window to understanding the mental state of our leader and the need to interrogate this kind of embarrassing episode in the history of the Zimbabwean Parliament.
There are a lot of questions that legislators should ask that Zimbabweans need answers to and certainly one of the questions should not be: Who gave the president the wrong speech?
The most fundamental question should be: How on earth could a president, renowned for his seven academic degrees, fail to ascertain that the speech he was reading was a wrong one, in fact one he read only three weeks ago?
The other question that begs for answers is: When Mugabe delivered his Sona three weeks ago, did he understand anything contained in that document including the much talked about 10-point plan? If so, why did he not realise he was reading the same speech on Tuesday the 15th?
If he completely forgot the import of the Sona script and thought he was reading a new speech in Parliament on that sad Tuesday the 15th afternoon, isn’t this a sign that he is now too old to be in office? If this is not an indicator, certainly nothing can be.
On the basis of his Tuesday the 15th show, many Zimbabweans are now certainly asking the question when the old man will finally decide to rest since it is now clear, more than ever, that he deserves to rest before he embarrasses himself, and the nation, more.
I was looking at the comic side of the Parliament boob and arguing that while it presented brilliant stuff for his opponents and fiction writers to lampoon him, it was very devastating in terms of investor confidence and how other nations view us as a country worth doing business with.
Surely if a whole president of a country could forget that the speech he was reading was a wrong one to a point he reads it to the end and then thank his audience for listening, such a character and nation is very dangerous to do business with, sign any contracts, or mega deals with because there would never be any guarantee that three weeks down the line they will be aware of any such agreements.
Even multilateral institutions that lend money or provide lines of credit to nations would certainly think twice before dealing with a president or a nation with a president who has such an ephemeral memory he completely forgets important messages he would have addressed to his nation in just three weeks.
If Mugabe could not realise the speech he was giving last Tuesday was the same one he had given three weeks ago, investors would argue, what guarantee is there to even assume he could remember to implement any one of the 10-points that he articulated in his speech and if he cannot be trusted on his own government plans, what more of mega deals with China and Russia?
It is very sad that those in Zanu PF who are now benefitting from the president’s age actually clap hands and profess that “they have never seen such a brilliant and God-given leader” when it is quite clear the man is now past his sell-by date and should, as a matter of urgency, resign and rest.
If he cannot do that on his own, or should Parliament fail to move such a motion, then one responsible citizen should, through the courts, coerce Parliament to start looking at the provisions of Section 97 of the constitution which provides that a president can be removed from office on grounds of mental or physical incapacitation.
Section (97) provides that “The Senate and the National Assembly, by a joint resolution passed by at least one-half of the total membership may resolve that the question whether or not the President of Vice President should be removed from office for — (d) inability to perform the functions of the office because of physical or mental incapacity; should be investigated in terms of this section”.
Parliament, rather than waste everybody’s time asking questions on what really happened to the so-called speech mix-up, should be asking questions around the president’s mental capacity to lead the country for it is quite evident, from the September 15 circus, that the man now has some serious mental challenges to grapple with and therefore might not be fit, at all, to lead this country.
If he doesn’t resign on his own, Parliament should force him to show cause as to why he should remain president in light of all the signs that he is no longer in total control of his mental faculties.
He has lately been associated with very sad signs of mental weakening to an extent he recently said “Pasi neZanu PF” his own party, and also divulged that Tsvangirai won the last election 73 percent although both the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) and Zanu PF claim Mugabe’s party had a landslide victory in the same election.
This is on top of his infamous decision to appoint a cabinet taskforce to investigate claims by a n’anga that pure diesel, not crude oil, was oozing out of a rock in Chinhoyi a few years ago.
If the Chinhoyi diesel n’anga circus, the pasi neZanu PF and the 73 percent Tsvangirai victory claims were the sudden appearance of tell-tale signs that the man’s cognitive prowess was swiftly diminishing, his latest show in Parliament exposed to all and sundry that the has lost his bearings.
After reading former Vice President Joice Mujuru’s Blueprint to Unlock Investment and Leverage Development (BUILD) and the need to Remove All Measurable Pitfalls (RAMP), I was left with no doubt that one of the major pitfalls that hampered economic growth in the country was the president’s age and if this pitfall is not addressed by urging him to resign, Zimbabwe will remain in this sorry state for as long as he is in office.
The sooner we RAMP him out, the better for him, us, his children, our children and the nation at large. Daily News