Mugabe and his ministers sleep through economic summit

The emergence of yet another picture showing President Robert Mugabe fast asleep during proceedings at a two-day Arab-Africa Summit has reignited calls for leadership renewal in the country.

The summit, held in Kuwait on November 19th-20th, was aimed at improving economic and trade links between Gulf and African states.

The 89-year-old Mugabe was accompanied by his customary large entourage of ZANU PF gurus, who included Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa, Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi – with most of them captured asleep.

Nixon Nyikadzino, of lobby group Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, slammed Mugabe’s sleeping habits which he said “were now out of hand”.

Speaking to SW Radio Africa on Monday Nyikadzino said: “Mugabe and his ministers should distinguish between a bed and a meeting. They are doing the nation a disservice by sleeping even during meetings that should define the economic development of the country.

“This also shows that these people should not be occupying these Cabinet positions because they are all well past the retirement age and should be at home playing with their grandchildren.

“Zimbabweans deserve to be represented by people who are able and energetic and not this current crop. These people are draining the economy by taking large delegations to such summits to simply go and sleep,” Nyikadzino added.

Another commentator, Mkhululi Moyo, said given his crimes and the problems bedevilling the country, it was surprising that the president can actually manage to fall soundly asleep.

“Any other person with so much on his conscience will sleep with one eye open, but Mugabe manages to sleep soundly,” Moyo said.

Nyikadzino agreed, adding that “under the current circumstances, even Chinamasa can’t afford to sleep. The announcement of the 2014 budget is overdue which has ramifications on the way the country will function next year.”

This is just one incident in which the president has been caught napping. At a summit for African Heads of State held in Ethiopia in May, Mugabe and his entourage “tuned to sleeping mode and dozed off completely,” the Nigerian press reported.

One of the reports, which appeared on Nigeriafilms.com, blamed, “these sleeping dinosaurs like Mugabe” for the political, social and economic mess that continue to haunt the continent.”

The report added: “When the veteran ‘warlord’ is asleep when the battle is so fierce, obviously, the other soldiers are fighting a lost battle, and if the president and his entire cabinet are a group of sleepers, what becomes of the nation they represent?”

Last year, then Industry Minister Welshman Ncube also called for a new leadership for the country and sensationally revealed that Mugabe was sleeping through most international meetings.

In widely-circulated remarks Ncube also took issue with the undignified nature of Mugabe’s naps: “If you are strong and young, you sleep in a dignified way, but his whole body collapses when he sleeps. We need fresh leaders with power and strength who you do not have to look at and check if they are still awake,” Ncube added.

In 2010, MDC-T secretary-general and then-Finance Minister Tendai Biti, also stated that Mugabe was in the habit of sleeping through meetings, saying the old leader was “now tired” and should step down.

According to the Zim Independent newspaper, Mugabe spent almost “$50 million in foreign travel last year,” while important and beleaguered sectors, such as education and energy, received $25 million and $16 million respectively.

Despite the Zim delegation apparently sleeping through the recent Arab-Africa summit, the Kuwaiti government announced that it was “rescheduling” Zimbabwe’s unspecified debt.

Speaking after the summit, an official said Kuwait was doing so in recognition that Zim was facing economic challenges as a result “of hardships, embargoes and sanctions” and that they will be resuming operations in Zimbabwe.

However, Nyikadzino said it is not altogether surprising that the Arab state was choosing to ‘cancel’ Zimbabwe’s debt at this point.

He said Zimbabwe had seen the worst of these economic hardships in 2008, yet Kuwait did not reschedule the debt then.

“We are seeing a slow but gradual acceptance of this illegitimate government by the international community. We saw another example of this in September when the EU lifted restrictive sanctions on the (ZANU PF controlled) Zimbabwe Mining Development Community, despite evidence that this entity funded ZANU PF’s ballot theft,” Nyikadzino added. –SW Radio Africa News

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