Saturday, September 23, 2023

Rhetoric neither saves nor serves the nation

I am full of sad amusement that in the last two weeks, Robert Mugabe has divulged some titbits that were, at the time of their occurrence, only rumours.
He made statements that expose both his mental insufficiency and resistance to his unorthodox way of disregarding people’s opinions. It seems that he was warned against many things he did since Zimbabwe’s independence but did not listen. 

Mugabe is chronically fond of crowds and addressing “meetings”; he believes that no crowd is complete without him and that all people gathered any place are waiting for him to spout his illogical populist nonsense.

He hijacks people gathered for other issues and tries to make those gatherings his own. Football crowds and church gatherings are among his favorite hunting grounds.
But the most insensitive of his inconsiderate behavior has to do with him hijacking funerals of other people’s sons or daughters.
He declares unworthy people to be national heroes or heroines, exposing them to ridicule. This, in turn, provokes the government to fund the funerals and pay, among others, certain amounts of stipends and services to the survivors of the deceased.

Two weeks ago, two somewhat prominent women passed away within days of each other and Mugabe also had an opportunity to address Zimbabwe’s so-called war veterans.
One of the issues the old gangster publicly revealed while addressing the war veterans last week was what Botswana’s then Foreign Affairs Minister, Momphati Merafhe, said to him and to other dignitaries about Mugabe.

Apparently, Merafhe openly told Mugabe at an African Union meeting that he (Mugabe) cheated Tsvangirai of victory.
“Merafhe went to the point of telling me that the seat I was in was supposed to be occupied by Tsvangirai,” said Mugabe.
The truth never dies, does it? The truth is painful too.

Mugabe has rigged just about every election after independence. The 2008 election was the worst in terms of murdering innocent members of the electorate while the 2013 election offered a comical but truly sad state of electoral fraud against the people of Zimbabwe, engineered by Israel’s Nikuv in fervor of Mugabe.
The electoral fraud was painful because it was open yet nobody came out against the results except Botswana. Some SADC countries sent congratulatory messages to Mugabe before all results had been announced. Two years later, Mugabe himself would fly to Zambia for the inauguration of Edgar Lungu before all the votes had been counted, sparking demonstrations in Lusaka against the Zimbabwean leader.

And during last week’s burials of the two women that Mugabe believes are heroines, he, as usual, instead of reciting a eulogy for the deceased, used the platform to hurl insults at imaginary enemies, blaming everybody except himself.
The British are always the first target.

Mugabe said that the late Rhodesian Prime minister, Ian Smith,killed the highest number of people.
“He had the bloodiest hands of all, Ian Smith. They would bomb indiscriminately and they would not discern which are refugee camps and which are not,” said Mugabe. “No country in Southern Africa recorded as many deaths as us.”

Of cause, Smith bombed guerilla camps. He was in a state of war against a very strong and determined Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army.
Both sides used guns and weapons of war; there was a clear line of disagreement between the two armed sides.

But since independence in 1980, Zimbabwe has never been at war within its own borders yet the number of people killed by Mugabe inside Zimbabwe is very high and painful to accept, especially that Mugabe unleashed his army against unarmed and defenseless people, citizens of Zimbabwe.
Smith killed his enemies; Mugabe killed his own unarmed people.

No death is acceptable, regardless of the circumstances and reasons behind the killing. Yet as Zimbabweans look at themselves, we find it easier to make excuses for Ian Smith than to forgive Mugabe for what he has done to our people.

Mugabe has denied us the pride to hold him up triumphantly as an example of determined liberation. He has denied the nation an opportunity to grow and abused the experiences of liberation, which came at a very high cost.

What we and the world are witnessing in Zimbabwe is something that must never happen in any country on our continent.
The total disregard of life in Zimbabwe, the fiscal recklessness, abuse of citizens and the chaotic political situation, particularly within Mugabe’s ruling party, are issues that rob citizens of decency and lives.
We hear and read about outsiders who cheer Mugabe. I know many people in Botswana who are infatuated by Mugabe’s meaningless drama and verbal tirades as he plays to the gallery. That is all fine. What I haven’t seen are long lines of people at Zimbabwe Embassies in any country seeking visas to immigrate to Zimbabwe…not even Batswana.

There is a reason why they just might go in and then get out like Zimbabweans are doing in record numbers as they trek to South Africa.
Over the years after independence, Zimbabwe has always been overrated as it ran on the economic steam from the colonial era.

Thirty-five years on, there is more talk and little action. The country is weathering. Businesses are closing and relocating. Agriculture has suffered and it’s not just because of the draught.

The situation is very bad and the future very bleak. At the same burial ceremony, Mugabe took time to apologise to civil servants for not having received their salaries on time. This has been happening for a long time already.

“Civil servants must be tired of hearing the same empty promises by now,” Mugabe said as part of his eulogy. “Right now they would be glad just to have fixed dates for their meagre salaries.”

Yet Mugabe himself recently told the nation that $15 billion (not million) from diamonds revenue had gone missing. How is that possible in a country that is living from hand to mouth?
The things that are being said and the realities on the ground do not correspond.

All these things are happening at a time when Mugabe and those few remaining cabinet ministers spend most of their time suspending each other or chasing each other out of the party while little work is being done to rescue the nation from the precipice to which Mugabe has pushed us.

Even those die-hard supporters outside Zimbabwe should, by now, start to wonder what really is going on in Zimbabwe. 

Botswana tried to alert the region and, indeed, the world but the solidarity among African leaders is unshakeable.

Rhetoric failed to rescue us; now, like the country itself, it has all turned stale.



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