By Staff Reporter
FORMER President Robert Mugabe is a bitter old man who must start finding peace with himself while preparing for his “peaceful and dignified” death, outgoing European Union (EU) Ambassador to Zimbabwe Phillipe Van Damme has said.
But Van Damme said during Mugabe’s last days on earth he must be protected from those who want to manipulate him because of his age.
He was speaking during a Quill Speak, a regular discussion forum at the Harare press club that is often patronised by journalists and civil society activists.
The event was organised by MISA-Zimbabwe (Harare Chapter).
The outspoken diplomat came to Zimbabwe 2014.
“Can I say the impression that he left me in 2015 on a rainy Independence Day celebrations, it never changed my vision since then,” Van Damme said.
“I saw a very old frail man on the track being saluted by the army and an impression he gave me was that of a frail, old lonely man.
“You know with some of these old men, its 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, way should be found to let him go in a dignified way, now he has to prepare his physical departure.”
The outgoing EU Ambassador said Mugabe was a religious man and he only spoke to him only once when he (Van Damme) presented his credentials and they talked about his relationship with God.
“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 said.
“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 9 months, it’s quite painful for him.”
Mugabe was toppled last November after 37 years in power through a popular military coup.
He has never hidden his bitterness with the way he was forced out of power, telling journalists on the eve of the July 30 elections that he will never vote for his tormentors, in apparent reference to President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government.
Ironically, Van Damme is not the first in a space of two days to speak openly about the 94-year-old’s supposedly impending death.
War veterans secretary general Victor Matemadanda said Tuesday that Mugabe’s age-group now belonged to the grave.
When he was still President, Mugabe’s wife Grace often spoke about his death during her rallies.