ON Monday Japan’s Emperor Akihito, who is 10 years President Robert Mugabe’s junior, addressed the nation and pointed to his possible resignation of the throne after 28 years in power — an act for which there is no precedent in modern Japan.
Candid Comment,Owen Gagare
“I am concerned that it will become more and more difficult for me to fulfil my duties as a symbolic emperor,” he said, igniting debate in his country given that under Japanese law, there is no constitutional allowance for abdication, with the throne passing only due to an emperor’s death.
It does not matter that he is the emperor of a country with a US$5 trillion economy — the third largest in the world — Akihito wants to rest because he feels he cannot perform his duties as he should because of old-age and ill-health.
Mugabe, in sharp contrast, a fortnight ago stubbornly insisted he would remain in charge of the country “as long as I still have the energy, the life and the blessings of God”.
Ironically, Mugabe — in power since Independence in 1980 — made the announcement after veterans of Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle released a communique describing him as a failed and self-centred dictator who has destroyed the economy.
Mugabe inherited a country with a vibrant economy, abundant natural resources and vast tracts of arable land, which former Tanzanian president Julius Nyerere described as the “Jewel of Africa”. But under his stewardship, the nation and its economy have dramatically collapsed, hence growing calls for him to quit.
Ruining the economy alone, should be enough reason for Mugabe to step down, never mind like Akihito, he is also battling ill-health and old-age as evidenced by his frequent visits to Singapore for treatment.
It appears not to ring a bell in Mugabe that his frequent visits to Singapore are because he has allowed Zimbabwe’s health system — like many other sectors — to collapse.
Ironically, the founding father of his go-to country, Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, who was prime minister between 1959 and 1990 resigned from cabinet in 2011 to allow younger leaders to take over.
“The time has come for a younger generation to carry Singapore forward in a more difficult and complex situation,” he said at the time.
Lee resigned despite turning Singapore into one of the leading futuristic countries. Unlike Zimbabwe, Singapore was a poor country at Independence in 1959. The country had a plethora of problems, including mass unemployment, housing shortages, lack of land and natural resources.
Lee’s administration put in place attractive investment policies, reduced unemployment, raised the standard of living and implemented a large-scale public housing programme while developing the country’s economic and oil infrastructure.
Singapore has thus risen from a small dependent state to one with a GDP worth US$307,86 billion, thanks to visionary leadership and progressive policies.
Surely, if good leaders like Lee, who have championed the prosperity of their nations, can resign shouldn’t this leave an egg on the face of failed leaders like Mugabe?