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I only noticed the teardrop that had made its way down my face after the short video clip had ended.
I had been watching a woman on the screen, tears dripping down her chin, as she patiently explained her problem, a nation’s problem.
Dr Azza Mashumba is the Head of Pediatrics at Parirenyatwa Hospital, Zimbabwe’s largest referral hospital, and she broke down as she stood in front of journalists, pleading for the most basic of things, like syringes and gloves.
Zimbabwe’s biggest hospital had no syringes when Zimbabwe’s First Lady flew to New York (one week early) for a gender equality meeting. She was accompanied by a cabinet minister responsible for information.
Yes, Zimbabwe has a cabinet Minister responsible for Women’s Affairs.
At the same time, President Emmerson Mnangagwa spent a bundle of taxpayers’ money to fly to Beitbridge to cut a ribbon at the commissioning of a fiber link station.
Both the UN Gender Equality meeting and the commissioning of a fiber link are important but attendance at such gatherings is the role of cabinet ministers.
Doctors and teachers are always asking the government to enable them to do their jobs by supplying the necessary basic tools, renumeration and conducive working conditions.
It costs money to move a president from one place to another; the same with a presidential spouse.
But, as we know, foreign trips are a gold mine for those in power.
The last two months have revealed a troubling trend towards concluding that the military coup in Zimbabwe was totally misplaced.
While in no way concluding that Robert Mugabe was better, Emmerson Mnangagwa has not been able to hide his incompetency.
He put so much pressure on Mugabe and on Zanu-PF because he wanted to succeed Mugabe. His desperate behavior destabilized the ruling party and, by extension, the nation.
He is here now, sitting at the throne and is equating himself to Jesus while calling an opposition politician Satan.
An MDC Alliance district administrator, Blessing Toronga, was abducted in January a few days after the demonstrations. His body was found on Thursday in a mortuary outside Harare.
Meanwhile, Mnangagwa continues to threaten the citizens and is always looking more at ease with foreigners than with his own people.
Zanu-PF abused the now increasingly unpopular war veterans.
Despite all the public assistance they continue to demand and receive, they have little to offer but keep coming back to ask for more from a nation whose economic base fell through after they demanded what the nation could not afford.
Mnangagwa has failed to show any originality. He proffers no suggestions or solutions except to trumpet the tired mantra about Zimbabwe being open for business when.
Mnangagwa is failing to distinguish himself from the ordinary.
He fails to be a different person. He fails to see that ‘mhandu’ (sellout) referred to betrayal of a nation, not of a person. We do not need this kind of language in the country anymore. I am embarrassed that my home-boy still confuses dawn with dusk.
As a parent, I cringe to see a young dedicated doctor in distress, desperate to treat babies but without anything to use while the president and his wife are running around spending money the nation does not have.
Oh, Mnangagwa, my homeboy, why disgrace me like this? Let’s grow up together again.
Mr. President do not waste the little money that Zimbabwe has to hire a public relations company to make you and Zimbabwe look more attractive.
That is not necessary. Zimbabwe is not the problem and you know that.
You will not look better when an opposition leader looks bad.
Stop it, will you?
As for sanctions, Mr. Mnangagwa knows better that they have nothing to do with the sad mismanagement of Zimbabwe.
Last week, Mnangagwa’s government is said to have signed a million-dollars-a-year contract with a Washington D.C. public relations company, Ballard Partners, who are said to have “inside contacts within the Trump administration”.
Mnangagwa should not waste money on public relations companies anywhere in the world; he should, instead, buy syringes for the hospitals.
The best and most effective PR is to be on the side of the people.
Mnangagwa would not need to buy foreigners to sing his praises; all he needs to do is to serve the people, to listen to the people, to understand the people’s concerns and try to help them.
Pleasing Americans or having sanctions removed will not help starving people in Zimbabwe nor will it do anything for those whose human rights are continuously being violated.
Mnangagwa and his Zanu-Pf are wasting scarce resources to get Americans to like them while the people who need their attention are in distress.
To fight off the increasing persistence of opposition, Mnangagwa and his ruling party should start leading, not ruling. They must understand that they are no one’s masters.
Any leader, who is one with his people, will never need a public relations company to speak on their behalf.
All we hear about is a cry to remove the sanctions that were imposed to encourage the protection of our human rights.
The targeted sanctions are nothing; real sanctions were imposed on Rhodesia when Ian Smith unilaterally declared independence from Britain in 1965.
While Ian Smith complained about that, he ensured that Rhodesia developed and he diversified its industry to a point that it produced many products for export to Europe while it was under sanctions. Rhodesia’s products could not be ignored by the international community but, today, all Zimbabwe can do is whine about targeted sanctions instead of being innovative.
It is a shame that people outside of Africa do not care to understand the distress that Zimbabweans are under.
Mnangagwa got a chance he never deserved and he got it from scared, insecure people in the army who had been spooked by a woman.
South Africa was at it again last week as we saw Cyril Ramaphosa with a gang from his ministers visiting Zimbabwe to “deepen and strengthen bi-lateral relations” with a broke government that specializes in brutalizing its citizens.
My eyes still get flooded when I watch Dr Azza Mashumba crying, not for money but for syringes so she can save the children brought to her.
Mnangagwa must rescind the shameful public relations contract he got into.
All he must do is listen to his own people, be good to the people and protect them.
No public relations effort will overcome the will of the people.
The government of Zimbabwe must cancel that contract and use the money to buy syringes and other necessities hospitals need.
But, that is not all. This comes at a time when many opposition Members of Parliament and human rights campaigners are being arrested and jailed for alleged treasonous acts of conspiring to overthrow Zimbabwe’s legitimately elected government.
Why isn’t there some shame in the behavior of African governments, particularly in Zimbabwe?
Dr Azza Mashumba was not crying for herself; she was crying for the people of Zimbabwe and for that I thank her very much.