Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Thank you for the speech, Mr Khama

After sidelining media outlets from their home countries in farvor of CNN, CBS, BBC, Bloomberg and other American and international media outlets during the United Nations General Assembly in New York, African presidents,except for one or two, and their large entourages are back on home soil where they are now available to local media.

It is distressing that African journalists always have a hard time getting interviews with African leaders when they are in America or Europe.

I have seen it all the time when a high schooler from America easily gets an appointment with a president whose country he is visiting while a local PhD student will have to acquire his doctorate without ever being extended the chance to chat with his president as part of his research.

And it was no different in New York last week so much that some African journalists complained about it but who is listening?

And when they give their speeches at the United Nations, in which they always complain, thesidelined crew from the home country is expected to capture it all for broadcast back home to show the natives how the president told off the Americans and the British.

Speeches by African presidents are predictable. One thing that is in vogue is of them always demanding equality in running the United Nations, an organisation to which they hardly contribute. Although there are some justifications to this complaint, one look at the African Union, an organisation to which they hardly contribute, will show you that these people cannot run a pre-school.

This year at the United Nations, the world was relieved to be without the senseless tongue lashing which had become Robert Mugabe’s trademark over decades.

Although also with an unnecessarily large entourage, Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa, in his maiden speech to the General Assembly, gave an ordinary speech, peppered with the usual lies about strides being made in education, agriculture, mining, etc.

The fact that, in this day and age, Zimbabwe is in the grip of a cholera outbreak, in which we have, at last count, unnecessarily lost 47 compatriots, did not deter our president.

He even spoke about peaceful elections in Zimbabwe but conveniently down-played the seven people who were shot dead by “suspected soldiers” the day after elections.

There is eagerness to give this man a chance to show what he has in store for the country but to the majority of Zimbabweans, there is hardly anything different to expect.

Zimbabweans are discouraged by Mnangagwa’s history of him being the architect and enforcer of Mugabe’s brutal 37-year rule.

They point out that he is using the very same tactics that he brutally enforced to keep Mugabe in power.

The fact that oppressive laws that control people and curtail the media are still being used is an indication of how the discomforts of yester year are still very much with us.

Mnangagwa told the world that there is no room for corruption and that his government is hard on this cancerous practice yet all the once accused and the once hunted are free on the streets. None of them is serving a prison sentence.

This is easy to explain: he cannot move against any of his former and current colleagues in Zanu-PF because they know each other’s secrets and, literally, know where the bodies are buried.

So the charade goes on in the hope that Zimbabweans will forget or become absorbed with something else to bother.

Zimbabweans are a patient people and would not have any problem giving Mnangagwa a chance except for the simple fact that instead of dismantling the laws, behaviours and operations that have kept people in bondage for decades, he is fine tuning the same and, given his reputation, people are not encouraged.

The stand-off between Mnangagwa’s ruling Zanu-PF and Nelson Chamisa’s opposition MDC Alliance does not help matters at all and is actually fueling deeper division in the nation.

However, there is no choice but to watch each other carefully. The people have become rather skeptical to the point of being stubborn because they are tired of trusting only to get punched in the face for it.

But things take a while and Mnangagwa might surprise us all by evolving into a true democrat who can’t sleep a wink if one citizen goes to sleep hungry or is turned away from hospital because there is no medication.

Former president Seretse Khama Ian Khama’s speech given to the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries in Bulawayo two days ago made me wonder why and how Africans find it difficult to run their governments.

Khama talked about all the pertinent issues and offered advice in his simple but straightforward manner.

When he talked about the need for leaders to whole-heartedly sacrifice in confronting a nation’s problems, I had no doubt who he was urging because, indeed, Mnangagwa will not get anything done unless he makes extreme sacrifices to turn the nation around. He needs to make a u-turn himself.

Yes, as Mr Khama pointed out, Zimbabwe has everything it needs, including manpower, to turn its fortunes around and be at the apex of development if both the leadership and the people work together and make some sacrifices.

Conceding that Botswana has very little but has tried to make the best of what it has, especially applying anti-corruption laws, Mr Khama indicated Zimbabwe would find it much easier to reach full development.

And Zimbabwe needs not only anti-corruption laws but strict application of such laws.We are not in luck folks! Zimbabweans are laughing at the head of Zimbabwe’s anti-corruption commission, pointing out that he is allegedly wanted for corruption in South Africa where he once worked.

Twitter, WhatsApp and other social media platforms are very unkind. Here, people itemize numerous properties owned by former cabinet ministers while quoting their monthly salaries.

Mr Khama also talked about democracy and this is one topic that we wish and hope to see him come and hear him repeat over and over again.

A democratic Zimbabwe can cure all the nation’s ills and that is why democracy remains elusive 38 years after “independence”.


Read this week's paper