When foreign observers urge Zimbabwe’s long-time—and only—president to retire he ignores them. Mugabe doesn’t care if they call him a ruthless dictator whose policies have beggared the southern African country’s citizens.
But the response of the 87-year-old may differ as senior members of his own political party tell him to step aside. The Zimbabwe Independent reports that the controversial figure faces political and personal issues that have prompted those close to him to urge him to announce his retirement.
“The sources said Mugabe is now in a quandary and his advisors were gravely concerned because of a series of circumstances which include his old age, health problems, Zanu PF [his political party] infighting, the succession crisis, collapse of his election plans, growing impatience by [Southern African Development Community] leaders, events in North and West Africa and the hardening of international opinion against his 31-year rule,” the paper reported.
Due to declining health, Mugabe, in power since the country’s independence from the United Kingdom, has been traveling to Singapore for medical care in recent months.
Forced to be part of a shaky coalition government with opposition leader and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai as a result of 2008’s violent and disputed presidential campaign, Mugabe had pushed for elections this year. However, Tsvangirai, and even a top official within Mugabe’s own party, said it would be best not to hold elections in 2011 due to the unstable political climate, says NewsDay Zimbabwe.
The economy has grown in the past year, but the overall outlook is not good. The country’s unemployment rate is estimated to be about 95 percent, and 68 percent of citizens live in poverty.
As revolts against other longtime leaders on the continent multiply, observers wonder if time is running out for the only leader most Zimbabweans have ever known as well.
(Photo: Dirk Waem - Pool/Getty Images)