Editorial: Let’s be serious

There was something rather pathetic yet revealing about reports in the public media of Chinese and Russian leaders sending birthday messages to President Robert Mugabe last week.

The Zimbabwe Independent Editorial

Even if there was nothing very newsworthy about that, Mugabe’s loyalists and supporters tried to milk it for what it is worth. There was no big deal. Just a rather polite and predictable greeting from a couple of states that are also in need of friends. But it helped to illustrate how Mugabe is isolated and badly needs friends.

What is remarkable is that in China’s case, President Xi Jinping has never bothered to visit the country he is hailing even when it stretched out below his aircraft for half an hour or more on his way to the last Brics summit in South Africa. No chance of popping in there. Xi hasn’t even met Mugabe! Neither has Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

That is why our state media felt it important to tell Zimbabweans that we have at least one friend — Beijing. China might be heading in the opposite direction ideologically, but it can be relied upon to spout the mantras that Zimbabwe also holds dear.

Something similar goes for Russia. The ex-Soviet state, which trained so many of our cadres in the 1960s and 70s, cannot get away without some acknowledgement of the cost. So that requires a message of solidarity every now and again.

Nobody would deny Mugabe’s “astute leadership”. “Wily” also comes to mind. But he has got it hopelessly wrong on the economy. Mugabe believes he can pick and choose who can invest here.

Technically, he is right. All countries that want to set up their stall here must respect our sovereignty. That is elementary. But it is Zimbabwe that needs investment. And that is not coming in any significant way. And here, as ever, we have the political dimension.

Mugabe feels slighted by the West and by Britain in particular. He saw himself in a post-Independence dispensation strutting upon the international stage and attracting international admiration of millions.

But he didn’t understand that the rules of engagement are more complicated. International investors need to know their money is safe. That requires wise leadership and sensible policies. Look at Botswana and Mozambique. From a one-party Marxist state in the 1970s, which nobody wanted to know, Mozambique is today a destination of investment and growth. It has seen off a clumsy rebel movement and attracted back former colonists.

Botswana, a desert state in the 1970s with nothing to go on — not even traffic lights — is now a diversified economy based on diamonds.

It has also built a thriving tourism industry which we could have done. Kenya got it instead. Other states in Sadc tend to regard Mugabe’s regime as a fossil locked in the mantras of the 1980s. That era has long since passed. “Get on with the programme” is the message sent to Mugabe by Sadc today. Because he can’t or won’t modernise the economy — and political system — we are all as a nation condemned to await delusional pronouncements of a 90-year-old ruler who is detached from reality. Until we get serious about ourselves, nobody will take us seriously.

3 Responses to Editorial: Let’s be serious

  1. Goreraza March 7, 2014 at 12:48 pm #

    Bob is simply a murderer and thief. Cant be bothered.

  2. Exiled March 7, 2014 at 8:51 pm #

    But my question is who is exactly in charge in this country? Obviously its not Mugabe. I have traveled and lived in many countries and what i noticed is that the president appears on television at least once or twice per week talking issues of national policy and governance. These presidents will be talking real issues and taking action which is very tangible and citizens really feel that the president is working. Now when i came back to Zimbabwe i was very shocked to notice that the president only appears on national television at a gala to celebrate his own birthday and after that the nation have to wait for another birthday. Now birthdays come only once in a year. Most surprisingly all issues which the nation feels must have come from the president instead come from his spokesperson. What is this and who is exactly ruling this country? Why does it seem like this country is ruled by ministers in their own capacity which make it have more than twenty rulers as we have more than twenty ministers. The nation has every reason to be worried Mugabe is not doing the job that the people of this nation entrusted him with. As long as we have a situation where the president doesnt say anything this country will continue to die. For those who know please help me; who is ruling this country? Who is running the show’? I havent been around here for many years but i feel i have lost touch with how this country is run.

  3. wamaromo March 11, 2014 at 11:48 am #

    When was the last Mugabe addressed the nation? Is he the leader?

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