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Nothing encapsulates the world’s attitude and misplaced “respect” for a wayward leader, famous more for insulting other leaders, murdering his own people and a raider of national coffers, than the short but biting statement from the government of Botswana towards Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe.
While some leaders are humiliated in silence, Botswana, once again, did not hesitated to “hit” back, albeit in respectful tone, in response to Mugabe’s statements about Botswana’s leader and one of his cabinet ministers.
The rebuke is familiar and left Mugabe in a no-win situation.
If Mugabe were to respond, he risked being ignored and that, even with what remains of his ego, he wouldn’t like.
If he kept quiet over Botswana’s remark like he did, it would be accepting the latent meaning in the rebuke and it would be tantamount to accepting that he is too senile and not worthy debating with because he is handicapped by age.
While I concede that even mass murderers have rights, I am hoping that, should the rabid old man shoot off his mouth again, Botswana will be hard pressed enough to realise that, at times, no allowances need be made.
Mugabe is looking for excuses to divert attention from the smoldering tragedy now dangerously unfolding in Zimbabwe.
Aided by greed, an insatiable wife, a sadistic inclination to abuse citizens and uncontrolled, frequent dips into the national coffers, Zimbabwe has been in economic meltdown since independence and the fact that it has taken 37 years to bring the economy almost to its knees is testimony to what we inherited but failed to maintain.
But some people in the world are fascinated by extremes, particularly useless, verbal, populist rhetoric and Mugabe loves to feed his admirers.
Just this past week, Ethiopian Tedros Ghebreyesus, the Director General of the World Health Organization, plunged the world body into yet another moment of mockery and outrage by appointing Mugabe the “Goodwill Ambassador” on non-communicable diseases.
So, you see my problem again?
I have never understood why people view Mugabe as a messiah when the destruction he has caused in his country is there for everyone to see.
It boggles many a Zimbabwean’s mind as to what it really is that people from outside our borders see that we do not see.
Over 37 years, Mugabe has destroyed a nation; he has presided over the murder of thousands and is still at it; he has run down the health infrastructure in the country and millions are at risk at hospitals that do little more than dispense pain-killers; he flies to Singapore for medical treatment and his wife recently flew to South Africa to have a doctor look at her foot that had a small swelling.
This is the man who is currently withholding food from villagers unless they pledge they will vote for him next year; this is the husband of the woman who goes around the world beating up reporters and, on the trip to have her foot looked at by a South African doctor, ended up mugging a young woman whose legal case is still pending.
Clearly, this Ethiopian does not seem to understand the role of a goodwill ambassador but, like many people outside our borders, his infatuation with Mugabe damages not him but millions of people in Zimbabwe.
Mugabe likes to mock people and piece together things or issues and use that to taunt others while he does much worse.
Thus I was fascinated by the statements he made about Botswana President Khama and Mma Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi.
True, Khama’s strange absenting of self from important international gatherings and conferences never made sense to me and is, indeed, very retrogressive. But not attending international conferences and not actively campaigning for someone is not a crime. What is a crime is deliberately starving old men, women and children; what is a crime is to abuse national assets while the country collapses; what is criminal is presiding over a starving nation that has all the ability to feed itself and sell the surplus; what is criminal is to run down a fairly rich country until the country can produce jobs for 10% of the population.
Be that as it may, there is a reason why Mugabe finds time to lob cheap comments and make snide remarks on a country and government that is feeding and protecting its people, a country that is able to educate and to bring health care to its people, a country that is overburdened by Zimbabweans that Mugabe is unable to care for.
In comparison, while Batswana might not like their president, the truth is that Mugabe is unable to do for Zimbabwe what Khama has done for Botswana.
In Khama, Mugabe sees opportunities that he himself wasted and never to regain; his future is buried deep in his past while his past will be haunting him to beyond the grave.
History has always offered us exemplary leaders in politics, medicine, sciences and in many other arenas of life. We have role models in just about every discipline yet the nagging realization that one has fallen short of expectations can turn doves into hawks.
Mugabe has nothing to lose; he is like a hungry man with only a pot but no food to cook. He has done all the sadistic things to his innocent citizens and still got no satisfaction. He no longer has any reason to live for and his continued presence in politics is more for his own protection than for love for the job.
Once in a while, he said something useful but could never resist being cruel and vindictive. Those who want to copy his ways are welcome to do so.
He will leave no doctrine nor will he ever have a philosophy but only insults. He owns thousands of graves of the innocent.
Make no allowances to such characters because there is plenty of evil in this world and we cannot afford to exempt some people from paying for their transgressions to humanity.
A president’s duty is to care for his or her citizens. No philosophy required except for decency and to be in spirit with those we serve.
The sad, precarious point that Zimbabwe has now reached is a point of no return, a culmination of Mugabe’s failures amassed over decades. Today’s Zimbabwe is the product of Robert Mugabe. Whatever happens, things will never be the same again in both Zimbabwe and in its politics.
There is going to be change. Whether or not that change is positively harnessed is another matter; that remains to be seen.
Having hit rock bottom, this is not the time to hold our breath because there is no place to go but up.
Yes, Botswana, make no allowances. We must be very careful from whom we learn. We have been taught by experience; that is how evil creeps in and we cannot afford that, can we?