PRESIDENT Mugabe wondered aloud last Friday at the launch of his partyâ€™s election campaign why schools have become so dirty. Like any concerned parent with school-going children, our octogenarian leader asked his party supporters why dormitories and toilets at schools were no longer being inspected and cleaned. He told the gathering that children were no longer bathing before going to school. Some were bathing once a week, he said.
Colonialists did it better than Zanu PF
He also asked why children were no longer being taught music, especially how to play musical instruments like banjos and pianos.
Then the most revealing part of his lament came. “The colonialists were doing it, why arenâ€™t we doing it?” he asked no one in particular with a straight face. His supporters cheered at this self-indictment by Mugabe. I would want to believe that his diatribe was directed at Education mini-star Aeneas Chigwedere.
As a diligent leader, I would also want to believe that Mugabe has had occasion to ask Chigwedere why education standards have gone down on his watch and why pianos and banjos have disappeared from music classes. Letâ€™s picture the conversation:
President: Nhai vaChigwedere, when did you last visit boarding schools? I hear that the institutions are uninhabitable due to filth in dormitories and toilets. Teachers and staff are not inspecting facilities and children are not bathing. Chii ichocho? Have you forgotten how colonialists used to run schools when you were a headmaster and then school inspector? As an educationist myself, I appointed you minister because I saw in you that zeal to improve education. Remember my legacy?
Minister: President thank you very much for affording me this unique opportunity to discuss this very important subject. President you have gone right to the heart of the issue. Standards have gone down everywhere, at the universities, colleges, in hospitals, everywhere. I therefore derive comfort in that it is not just in education where standards are deteriorating. President, we have a problem of sanctions and saboteursâ€¦
President: (cuts in) I am very much aware about all that stuff we talk about kumarally but this is really serious iwe Chigwedere. The schools are rotting. As a former teacher I am very disappointed. Look at how schools no longer have facilities, hakuna mapiano emusic. What is that?
Minister: It is true president. But it is important that I take you back to that time when we agreed as government that instead of raising the standards of rural schools and the former group B schools to that of the former white schools, we would rather try to lower the level of these former multi-racial schools and private schools so that there is equity in education. For more than three years president, I have been concentrating on that issue but the white schools have been fighting back. To just show you that it is the saboteurs doing this, the leader of the private schools is standing for the opposition in Mount Pleasant.
Unless you are saying President that there is a change of policy in this area to say letâ€™s run the schools the way colonialists used to thenâ€¦
President: Enough Aeneas! What I expect from you is more diligence and attention to duty. Clean the schools, equip them. I want children to bath everyday, you know, a hot bath like we used to get in the colonial days. Our children must play instruments. Pianos and banjos, where have they gone to? I want to hear these being played at rallies I will be addressing soon. I am sick and tired of choirs nematraditional dances. I hope that is clear vaChigwedere.
Minister: President, thank you very much for this meeting. I am begging your indulgence kuti even though I lost in the primaries I am still available again to carry out this very important task which you have set out in whatever capacity and I promise that I will redouble my efforts and not disappoint you.
President: That is the spirit minister.
Minister: You know president; we can always count on your genius. I can get to work right away. There is a rally in my constituency at the weekend and you have just armed the party with a great campaign message.
As a central committee member, I am going to tell our supporters that the president is going to buy detergents; soap and floor polish to clean the schools. The president will in addition to providing computers to schools also present them with pianos, banjos, guitars, flutes and drum sets. But one more thing president, what do we tell the villagers when they ask me about shortage of textbooks, chairs, desks, teachers and the chaos at Zimsecâ€¦?
President: Use your head Aeneas. Sanctions minister.