HomeCommentEditor's Memo: Mugabe's Rhetoric Won't Sell

Editor’s Memo: Mugabe’s Rhetoric Won’t Sell

LAST Sunday — Africa Day — President Robert Mugabe launched his campaign for the June 27 presidential campaign in Harare. His theme is “100% empowerment; total independence”.


He touted his “Zimbabwe will never be a colony again” line several times during his launch speech.

Mugabe has tagged himself as the champion of anti-colonialism. But that is all. He appears to have nothing else to offer. He is caught in a timewarp. His speech said it all.

Mugabe, the nationalist, could not even hint at how if reelected, he will get Zimbabwe out of the abyss it has sunk into.

His theme leaves much to be desired. It is bereft of convincing policy as to why he must be voted for. The only people who can believe his “100% empowerment” offer are his cronies who have benefited from running down a once prosperous economy.

Instead, he chose to be haunted by a historical shadow of imperialism and found a target to blame for the mess he has created. From the podium, he launched an attack on the United States Ambassador James McGee.

“Tall as he is, if he continues doing that, I will kick him out,” Mugabe said of McGee’s foray into Chiweshe.

“I am just waiting to see if he makes one more step wrong. He will get out. This is Zimbabwe, it is not an extension of the United States.”

McGee was the escape route for Mugabe and fell victim to the president’s anti-colonialism rant. This threat will not appeal to the electorate. The electorate is looking to the future. A leader wishing to be elected for tomorrow must offer concrete policies to bring back what the public has been robbed of — democracy, freedom of assembly, a vibrant media, a functioning economy, food on their tables, education for their children, available water and electricity. The list is endless but Mugabe decided otherwise.

This tired song of sanctions is not convincing anyone. Like a broken record, it will not result in people voting for Zanu PF. If Mugabe needs evidence that his sanctions song is irritating the electorate, he need not look further than the results of the first round of elections in March. The electorate rejected his MPs overwhelmingly and he failed to produce a majority for the presidential poll.

The problems Zimbabwe faces today are not a creation of the United States or other nations or their ambassadors. We have said it before. Zimbabwe’s problems are home-made. Even if McGee is deported today, our inflation of over 1 500 000% will not vanish. Industries operating at 10% to 20% capacity will not suddenly roar into life. Farms will not suddenly become awash with mealie cobs.

True, as Mugabe said, Zimbabwe is not an extension of America. Or any other country for that matter. It is almost comical considering the state of Zimbabwe that anyone would want to have it as a province. Even South Africans, whose leader sees “no crisis”, are not interested in befriending millions of Zimbabweans seeking economic refuge in their shanty towns.

Ambassador McGee did not commit a crime. In fact, as pointed out in last week’s Independent (May 23-29), McGee and representatives of other diplomatic missions did submit a diplomatic note informing the Foreign Affairs ministry of their intended visit to victims of political violence in Mashonaland Central. So no rules were broken there whatever the vituperations of the gullible state media.

McGee acted in the bounds of his rights. One of the many duties of an ambassador is to file to their home countries first-hand information that is factual and accurate concerning the countries they are posted to. That is exactly what McGee did.

Government must be alive to the fact that ambassadors are protected from harassment by local authorities and should not be targets of insults and abuse under the Vienna Conventions.

Later in the week, the Herald carried a story on its front page claiming that the US ambassador to South Africa, who it named as Patrick Kelly Diskin, sneaked into Zimbabwe. It turned out later that story was a fabrication. Diskin is in fact the regional food for peace programme coordinator at the United States Agency for International Development. Diskin is in the country on a routine visit. The US Ambassador to South Africa is Eric M Bost.

It is obvious government officials are making sloppy interventions by feeding state media inaccurate and dishonest information as long as it suits their propaganda line hence rendering the state media unreliable.

The imaginary ghost ambassador story reflects the hysteria and panic gripping Zanu PF as we approach the poll run-off. They don’t care whether they get their facts right or not.

Mugabe belongs to the past and has nothing to offer the electorate for the future. That much was clear by the end of this week.

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