Saturday, September 26, 2020

Buckle up Botswana, the madness is just starting across the border

I do not know for how long Botswana will continue to stretch its patience with Zimbabwe.

On the interdependent world stage, I do not give a damn about the self-centered and egoistic South Africa but I am humbled by Botswana whose behavior on the same stage has been somewhat consistent in raising eyebrows at home.

While Botswana seeks to get along with its neighbours through ways that somewhat mirror the tranquility in its cultures and existence, boisterous South Africa and its people play Africa’s bully and have the mistaken air of authority over Africa  –  a behavior that will shame them soon enough.

South Africa’s attitude reflects its innate culture of violence and intolerance not only to neighbours but among themselves.

While Botswana might, here and there, make political blunders at home and abroad, it cannot be denied that its citizens live much more peacefully than others in the region.

My curiosity about Botswana’s patience is necessitated by how what happens in Zimbabwe affects Botswana more than it affects South Africa or other countries in the region.

Year after year, Botswana, known not only for its diamonds but for its cattle, works hard to care for and protect these two valuables.

The movement of animals between Botswana and Zimbabwe is of particular interest, especially when you consider the free movement of animals, both wild and tame, between the two countries.

Many a time, because of crumbled governance in Zimbabwe, Botswana has assisted in treating, stopping or eradicating Foot and Mouth outbreaks in Zimbabwe.  Botswana tries to protect its interests at home by assisting a neighbor outside its own borders.

This practice has also been evident in politics when Botswana tried to protect its democracy at home by being involved in stopping or slowing down tyranny outside its borders, a practice that caused tongue-lashings from its citizens at home.

Nowhere has this behavior been more pronounced than in Botswana’s dealings with Zimbabwe, particularly during the Ian Khama presidency when Zimbabwe’s despot, Robert Mugabe, collapsed the economy and reigned violence against Zimbabweans the effects of which were seen in the number of both political and economic refugees in Botswana and South Africa, not to mention elsewhere in the world.

When Mugabe was ousted, Botswana hoped for and expected a normalized relationship with Zimbabwe but after congratulatory visits and an exchange of ambassadors, nothing seems to have changed.

Zimbabwe continues to send economic refugees to Botswana, just like it did during Mugabe’s days. While the world was teased with a slight loosening of political participation, Zimbabwe’s so-called “new dispensation” is nothing but a hoax.

Zimbabwe’s new leaders are using the same political manual that Mugabe originated while individual freedoms, along with property and human rights, are still elusive.

During the recent elections, we watched in awe as the new government crisscrossed the world begging for money in the name of revitalizing the economy and industry while, at the same time, buying brand new all-terrain vehicles for traditional chiefs who hardly have ‘modern homes’ and still live in thatched huts. Priorities, me dear friend! It’s called wrong priorities.

At the time Zimbabwe’s president flew to China to beg for more money ÔÇô debts that will pin Zimbabweans down for decades ÔÇô the government announced that it was buying top of the range vehicles for its 350 Members of Parliament and Senators yet the government cannot mobilise funds to cure and stop the outbreak of cholera that is fast spreading around the country and has, as of Friday, claimed 25 lives with millions more at risk.

On Friday, the World Health Organisation said that the city of Harare alone “is seeing an increase of 400-700 suspected (cholera) cases per day”.

Two days after being sworn in on Monday, the recently appointed Finance & Economic Development Minister, Prof Mthuli Ncube, wasted no time and set up a crowdfunding account asking people for money to fight the cholera epidemic while the $20 million order for the “Toyota Hilux twin cabs, Toyota Land Cruisers 200 Series and Isuzu KB D-tech” vehicles still stands.

Priorities, priorities!

Zimbabwe’s provinces affected as of Friday included Masvingo, Midlands, Harare (the epi-center), Mashonaland West, Manicaland and Mashonaland East. At the time of writing, 25 people had been confirmed dead and first reports of people infected in Bulawayo were received.

The cholera is travelling in all directions and, hopefully, it will not cross the border into Botswana as does Foot and Mouth regularly.

Just last week while in China with his begging bowl, Zimbabweans were not amused that Mnangagwa chartered a brand-new luxury Gulf Stream jet to fly former First Lady Grace Mugabe home from Singapore for her mother’s funeral, saying that the million plus dollars could have been put to better use since there was nothing wrong with the former First Lady flying on a commercial flight.

The cholera outbreak comes while the country is still struggling to rid itself of a typhoid outbreak in some parts of the country, primarily in the Midlands and Masvingo provinces.

It is a shame that in this day and age, Zimbabweans continue to die from preventable diseases that have all but disappeared in many parts of the world.

Vaccines for both cholera and typhoid cost less than $150 and, surely, for the price of one top of the range Toyota Hilux, Zimbabwe can cure all its affected citizens.

I dare to hope that somewhere in Zimbabwe, there is a kgosigolo who would not mind walking to save the lives of thousands of his subjects.

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