Outing European Union (EU) Ambassador Philippe Van Damme has described former
president Robert Mugabe as a frail, old and lonely figure who deserves a dignified retirement from public life.
Van Damme leaves Zimbabwe later today after four years as the ambassador of the EU, a bloc of 49 nations.
At a farewell with journalists on Thursday night, Van Damme said: “On what message I want to share with…Mugabe today, I said he is a frail, old and lonely figure who deserves a dignified retirement from public life.
“You know with some of these old men, it is difficult to quit and this old man seems to be a bitter old man now for the way he was forced to leave power.
“So, I think that a way should be found to let him go in a dignified way, now he has to prepare his physical departure.
“I think we need to give him, encourage him to prepare for his final departure and try to protect him against those who try to manipulate him because he has given something to this country, whether we like it or not and the way things have been revolving around him in the last nine months, it’s quite painful for him,” said Van Damme.
Mugabe was removed from power through a military intervention last November when his former allies President-elect Emmerson Mnangagwa and Vice President Constantino Chiwenga turned against him.
Before that Mnangagwa had been fired from both Zanu PF and government and the military under the command of Chiwenga, who was the army general, rolled tanks into Harare and placed Mugabe under house arrest before he resigned.
However, Mugabe has refused to lie low, instead he has backed the opposition against his former comrades something that has led his ferocious foes in the form of war veterans he once hounded to demand that the Robert Mugabe International Airport should be renamed if only to spite him for abandoning the revolution.
Spokesperson of the National Patriotic Front (NPF), which is closely associated with Mugabe, Jealousy Mawarire said in a tweet that Van Damme has to apologise.
“Those who are abusing him (Mugabe) are the war veterans, Mnangagwa and Chiwenga who violently removed him through a coup and now send gold panners to vandalise his properties simply because he refused to endorse them in the just ended elections. Have you called them out? The ambassador must apologise,” said Mawarire.
Van Damme obliged and apologised to his Tweeter followers who felt he was abusing an old man who has suffered enough at the hands of his former allies.
“This time I apologise…in his old age he shouldn’t be abused by those with their own political ambitions but be respected.
“I added that he is a religious man who deserves to be offered an environment where he can come to peace with himself in his final years,” said Van Damme.
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