Gaborone – Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has reportedly urged African countries to honor those who fought for the liberation of the continent, saying they deserved to be recognized.
Mugabe said this during the official opening of the 35th Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit of heads of state and government in Gaborone, Botswana.
The outgoing SADC chair, who is also the current African Union (AU) chair, urged the continent to come up with “mechanisms” to honor the legacy of founding fathers such as former Tanzanian president Julius Nyerere, the state-run Herald newspaper reported.
Mugabe said southern African leaders such as former Zambian leader Kenneth Kaunda and the late Botswana president Seretse Khama made a sterling contribution to the liberation of Africa.
“Let us remember those that have endowed us with legacy. This could be in the form of something. Can’t we have a fund in their honor?” Mugabe was quoted as saying.
Mugabe, 91, is Africa’s oldest president. He has ruled Zimbabwe since independence in 1980.
The veteran leader, who took over the SADC chair from Malawi President Peter Mutharika last year, handed the reigns over to Botswana’s Ian Khama.
The state media on Monday praised the nonagenarian, saying he had steered the SADC ship to its founding values.
“It’s worth remembering that from assuming the chair at a time, the region was seized with three hotspots – in the DRC, Lesotho and Madagascar. President Mugabe hands over the chair at a time leaders are seized with only the situation in Lesotho, which suffered an attempted coup,” the Herald said in an editorial comment.
Critics, however, view Mugabe’s surrender to Khama as giving the bloc some long-sought teeth to reject dictatorship, rights abuses and electoral fraud in the sub-region.
Khama, who is set to step down as Botswana president in 2018, is one of the few African leaders who has managed over the years to stand up to dictators.
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