The recent re-election of 92-year-old Mahathir Mohamad as prime minister of Malaysia has got some Zimbabweans wondering if ex-president Robert Mugabe could stage a similar comeback.
Mugabe was forced to step down in November after a military takeover backed by parliament and peaceful street demonstrations.
“Inspiring stuff” was the initial tweet in reaction to the news of Mahathir’s victory by former Mugabe ally, Jonathan Moyo.
“If 92-year-old Mahathir did it by rallying opposition forces against Malaysia’s ruling party he led & which had been in power for 61 years, 94-year-old president Mugabe can also do it by rallying a (Grand National Union) of opposition forces against Zanu-PF he led, which ruled Zim for 38 years!” he added.
Mahathir came out of retirement, joined the opposition and defeated his former protege, Najib Razak. In Zimbabwe incumbent president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, is a former Mugabe right-hand-man. He is to stand as Zanu-PF’s presidential candidate in elections due in July.
Moyo, a former university professor and cabinet minister who fled Zimbabwe after the army takeover, suggested Mugabe could return to active politics not as head of state, but to rally opposition forces “to restore legitimacy”.
‘Mugabe is not Mahathir’
Commentators have pointed out that when Mahathir first left office in 2003 he left Malaysia’s economy in a robust state, while Zimbabwe’s dire economic situation has been blamed on Mugabe’s policies of the last 17 years.
Responding to Moyo’s tweets, @TineyiMugere said: “Looks like Mugabe is overrated. Why doesn’t he put his weight behind whatever cause so people can be the judge? Mugabe is not Mahathir by a country mile.”
“It’s not in the age professor plus we truly don’t want Mugabe’s weight anywhere. May (Mugabe) leave us in peace now after leaving us in pieces,” said @NokuMagaa.