A top Japanese academic has called on former president Robert Mugabe to accept change in his country while his ambassador also condemned local political parties for too much fixation with political rivalry at the expense of policy issues.
Professor Sadaharu Kataoka of Waseda University in Tokyo was guest speaker at the Sapes Trust policy dialogue forum on Tuesday.
The African politics scholar has written extensively on African politics, including the 2017 Kenyan poll impasse, the South African political scene which forced President Jacob Zuma to resign recently and the 2011 violent ouster of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, among some of his works.
But he has not written anything yet about riveting scenes in Zimbabwean politics which have arguably seized the attention of the international community in the past 18 years.
Asked why he has failed to cover Zimbabwe, Kataoka could only say Mugabe’s exit through a military intervention in November last year signalled the end of tyranny.
“I think it’s about the end of tyranny. He has to also accept. Mugabe has to accept that Zimbabwe is changing,” he said.
Kataoka had been asked to present his observations about elections in Africa and their relationship to democracy.
His comments came just two days before the 94-year-old former leader made startling claims he was pushed out of power and never resigned as widely claimed by the new Emmerson Mnangagwa administration.
Mugabe has infuriated the government through his apparent unwillingness to take a background seat in local politics as witnessed by his recent support of a new opposition outfit fronted by his former Zanu PF allies.
Meanwhile, Japanese ambassador to Zimbabwe Toshiyuki Iwado said local politics was unique in that players competing for state power would often start tearing at each other while relegating policy-based issues to the peripheries.
Ambassador Iwado, who was speaking from the gallery, said Zimbabwe’s political parties were exerting too much pressure on the electorate ahead of the vote through fixation with each other’s personalities and forgetting to inform their prospective voters about their policies.
“We are waiting for voting. Does any party talk about its policies…who is talking about policy for the election? Who is asking the people to vote for them because of that policy?
“I have never seen them unfortunately. If there is any policy issue; party A will do this and that, party B is different to this and that, I think it is very important not to politicise the election.”