COMRADE Robert Mugabe, the supreme commander of all the uniformed and heavily armed forces and the persevering ruler of Zimbabwe celebrated his 91st birthday on Saturday February 21.
Zimbabweans of all walks of life wished him a happy birthday as a genuine gesture of goodwill towards a man who has achieved extraordinary longevity.
Although, so many people may not like the president, they have no problems in accepting that he has enjoyed the gift of life to the fullest extent.
That Mugabe has outlived most of his agemates mesmerises hordes of people. Several more are intrigued by the thought that now he is inching towards outliving the so-called bornfrees whose life expectancy was pegged at a lowly 38 at some point.
There is no denying that Mugabe deserved all the birthday wishes he received. The old and frail leader may have assumed that all the birthday wishes were from his gullible supporters who are intoxicated with the notion that he will rule until donkeys evolve into horned animals.
The president misinterpreted the torrents of wishes as popular endorsement for a life presidency during his tenure. That is why the crazed supporters were rewarded with celebrations around the country.
The main celebrations were held at the resort town of Victoria Falls. The organising committee for the event made sure that the day would be memorable for the guests invited at the pleasure of the perennially failing and potentially falling president.
The meticulously chosen guests repaid the gesture by ululating, praise singing and senselessly hero-worshipping Mugabe. There was even a depraved declaration that Mugabe possessed King Solomon’s sagacity. It was sad to see some very influential men kowtowing to the birthday boy in self-demeaning fashion.
The revellers were encouraged to drown themselves in all kinds of drinks. They gourmandised on all foods sweet and savoury during the gastronomic obscenity.
Cake was in abundance and the sons and daughters of peasants had it with reckless abandon. The eating of the cake put the vulgarity “if the peasants don’t have bread let them eat cake” into perspective.
In contrast, many Zimbabweans who continue to be stalked by hunger and poverty viewed the bash as a tasteless affront to their suffering.
Whereas the guests enjoyed the day, the same could not be confirmed for Mugabe. His body language portrayed an old man enduring a punishing schedule drawn to assist someone else’s ascendency to the soon to be vacant throne.
The president struggled to maintain a constant level of exuberance as his physique and psychomotor responses bared the evidence of accelerated bodily wear and tear. The entourage of goons and minders did a bad job in concealing the taletell signs of Mugabe’s encounters with difficulties of ageing.
To their credit, the minders had spruced the president to the last detail in an attempt to hide signs of severe ageing and frailty.
There was an attempt to defy the axiomatic complexity of life that reminds us that signs of ageing cannot be disguised forever.
The truth is that no matter how much steroids are pumped into one’s blood stream and no matter how many times the plastic surgeon’s knife cuts through one’s wrinkled flesh, there comes a time when the brain just freezes and refuses to act younger and the flesh refuses to shape up.
The signs of advanced age showed in the form of erratic gestures and mannerisms. His state of mind and his general appearance reminded all and sundry that it might not be long before the eventuality.
He is constantly experiencing those unpalatable signs of senility. His capacity of rational reasoning is diminished while ego, vanity and a false sense of accomplishment are rushing in to fill the resultant void.
Indeed the twilight years are here!
At 91 Mugabe’s age has become more of a liability than an asset when it comes to the exercise of leadership. The more he stays in power the more likely he would expose himself to the inclemency of Zimbabwe’s fluid political climate.
Apart from slipping and falling more often in public, he will fall asleep a lot more during important gatherings. Dozing off may result in embarrassing slips of the tongue if not the accidental opening some bodily orifices that expel obnoxious gases.
A president of a potentially great country like Zimbabwe should be compos mentis (of sane mind) with no doubts about his sanity.
Better still the president should have a sound mind in a sound body (mens sana in corpora sano). Mugabe’s sanity is questionable and his body is buckling under the pressure of advanced age. There is evidence that now he neither thinks clearly nor has control of and is fully responsible for his actions.
As Mugabe is technically disabled by senility, surely there should be some contingency arrangements in place. This is where Grace seems to have found a loophole to out-fox the ambition-starved vice-presidents.
Masola waDabudabu is a social commentator