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Editor’s Memo

POLITICIANS using metaphors can be quite entertaining.

I recall in 2003 when a Labour legislator in Britain startled colleagues by using what she admitted was a “very dangerous metaphor” against Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Summoned for a private chat with the prime minister, she spoke of her weariness with his charm offensive.

“He must think I am a fool if he thinks I will fall for his promises of a place in the government. He is like a serial adulterer who keeps promising his mistress he will leave his wife but never does,” she said.

That was definitely over the top. But such tales provide useful soundbites for the media.

President Mugabe is a master of the metaphor. It is his strong point, especially when he addresses unsophisticated rural folk. The president can be quite entertaining when he is in this mode.

At the beginning of the week he did not disappoint the crowd in Umzingwane in Matabeleland South. Zanu PF is desperate to win back votes from constituencies in Matabeleland provinces lost to the opposition MDC in 2000. It was metaphor time again.

His metaphor of a husband trying to win back the love of a runaway wife astutely captured a fascinating phenomenon in Zanu PF politics. This is what the president had to say to the Umzingwane folk:

“In 2000 the vote was by and large ‘No’. But if a man is rejected by a woman, if he is still in love with her, as we believe we are still in love with you, he will come back again. Is she going to say no?” said Mugabe.

“So there I am laughing and joking, very jubilant and hopeful that this time I will give her the ring.

“Well there it is. I will come back again although this is not the time for the second attempt. After the launch of our election campaign on Friday (today), that will be the time we will be coming to talk to you in a serious way and we will establish whether our destiny will be together,” he said.

he metaphorical man in Mugabe’s little story appears to be really in love with this adulterous woman who is now sleeping with the enemy. The man is even prepared to offer her a ring. He needs her back. But the sincerity of the man is in doubt here if Mugabe was correctly quoted by the state media.

“But we would want the people to be with us. Give us the necessary support. It is that oneness that we require and it must be demonstrated once every five years,” said Mugabe. There are the husband’s true colours.

He only makes approaches to the cheating wife with the intention of making up once in five years! Here is our love-drunk beau!

It is also hard to tell what the man has been up to all along and why the woman ran away in the first place. The smitten lover is careful not to blame the woman for leaving the matrimonial home. He is aware of his own shortcomings, especially his battery of the poor woman during the early years of the marriage.

Didn’t the infatuated man admit at one point that the wife-beating was an “act of madness”? Sanity restored, he is coming back.

As Mugabe promised the people of Umzingwane, he is coming back with a proposal and hopefully to win the heart of the Matabele belle. She was cheated in 2000 and 2002 by this grotesque suitor who convinced her to leave her husband of many years, so the story goes.

ugabe’s current charm offensive in Matabeleland is not new. Its ardour however hots up close to elections.

To illustrate that he is serious this time around, RBZ governor Gideon Gono was on site to tell us that work on the Gwaayi-Shangani Dam — an important phase of the Matabeleland water project — should be finished by 2007.

That is the dowry. But the Matabele belle would like to know what happened to Zimbabwe/Malaysia Holdings which in 2003 said it had secured a $41 billion loan from Export and Import Bank of Malaysia. She needs to know why this suitor did not sign the US$600 million deal in Malaysia in July last year. What was the explanation by the way?

Some say Mugabe had not taken to Malaysia his technical people, including then Water and Infrastructural Development minister Joyce Mujuru.

“The project requires much more discussion. Our Ministry of Water is also not here. The deal will be done in the future,” Mugabe told Malaysian media.

They are still discussing it we presume?

So when the suitor comes back, he needs to be asked all these questions. He also needs to be asked when he will procure desks and chairs for rural primary schools. Surely you do not want to hold computer lessons while sitting on a goatskin or a brick!

In all this can the true husband please stand up?

l Meanwhile, I am still waiting for a response from Harare Commission chairperson Sekesai Makwavarara.

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