What sort of state is it where the president’s decision to obey the law is front page news?
By The MuckRaker
The Herald on Monday announced that President Robert Mugabe will comply with a court ruling ordering him to proclaim dates for the holding of elections.
Anywhere else this would be a routine procedure passing without too much notice. But in Zimbabwe’s totalitarian climate, it is big news!
“I’ll comply with ruling: President,” the paper announced. This came after a campaign of stiff resistance and a stream of abuse by Zanu PF propagandists. The heading was related to another presidential statement saying “I am not a dictator”. Again, does this need to be spelt out unless it is true?
Mugabe said in Japan last week that he was smeared by Western countries because of the land reform programme that addressed colonial injustices through “dispossessing white farmers of excess land”.
Only excess land was it? And we noted the bit about Zanu PF standing for people’s rights. Tichaona Chiminya, Talent Mbika, Tonderayi Ndira, the Olds family and hundreds of other Zimbabweans, if they were still with us may have a different view! Those who escaped death and abuse at the hands of our national guardians will see Mugabe’s claims in Japan as not so much offensive as disingenuous.
“I am a Zimbabwean serving Zimbabwean people,” Mugabe claimed. “If my people say I must retire, I retire. But they still want me to go on. So who is saying I must retire?”
Well, in 2008 it was the people of Zimbabwe — a democratic majority — and he didn’t take any notice of them!
Mugabe said he never imprisoned any Briton. OK, but how about Zimbabweans? How about Dumiso Dabengwa and Lookout Masuku, found not guilty by the courts after their trial, but kept in jail.
Last week we commented on Mugabe’s remarks about Nelson Mandela being too kind to whites.
“Mandela has gone a bit too far in doing good to the non-black communities,” Mugabe said. “Really, in some cases at the expense of blacks. That’s being too saintly, too good, too much of a saint.”
Nothing better illustrates his poor judgment. He is inviting us to subscribe to his partisan agenda. There can be no benefit to be heard by criticising other rulers, especially those committed to constitutionalism and tolerance.
Mugabe wants people to know that he is committed to democratic rule. You don’t do that by opportunist attacks on nationalist icons deeply revered in their own countries and around the world.
We have often said Zanu PF leaders are on the wrong side of history, camouflaging their racism as redressing colonial misdeeds. Their favourite target is British colonialism. But we have often wondered how the British can continue to be guilty of colonial ambitions when they have given independence to India, Hong Kong, Singapore, Pakistan, Malaysia, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Malawi, Zambia, Mauritius, Botswana, Jamaica, the Bahamas and Barbados, some of them choosing to retain the Queen as head of state.
Not a very plausible illustration of colonial expansion!
Mugabe is evidently still stinging from the fact that many of these countries backed Australia in its proposal to have Zimbabwe remain suspended from the Commonwealth until it met the terms of the 1991 Harare Declaration. After Zimbabwe’s monumental efforts to get back in 2003 failed, state propagandists were told to refer to it as the “white Commonwealth”.
We wonder how that went down in India and Nigeria?
Meanwhile, commentators such as Andile Mngxitama have been writing fawning articles in the Herald saying Mugabe is the “greatest black statesman alive today”.
What is significant about such opinions and those in New African is that they are written by people living outside Zimbabwe. They write from the comfort of their homes in Britain and South Africa while denouncing those countries.
What is more they don’t have to worry about their arrest for commenting in the back of a taxi that Mugabe is a dictator. In Zimbabwe, people do not easily express such views.
And what are we to understand from people like Mngxitama? That there is no alternative to jambanja? That violence and destruction are the only way? Future generations will look to Mugabe, not Mandela, we are told.
What an indictment of African leadership!
But this misses the point. What we know from the present leadership is that when African leaders fail, they turn on their own people. They squander their legacy on the business of repression.
The claim that Africa’s failed nationalists will look to Mugabe for their legacy is an indictment of Africa. Even Zanu PF knows that a younger generation has already rejected Mugabe’s blandishments. They know Zanu PF offers no viable future for them. Unemployed and without hope, Mugabe is no hero for them. He has failed them.
Future generations are unlikely to recall fondly the present regime with its economic cannibalism and political repression. Posterity is unlikely to be kind to the Herald’s columnists.
It was good to see our old friend former Voice editor Lovemore Mataire back in print on Wednesday, sans the trademark beret, but several kilos heavier. Readers may wonder what he has been doing all this time.
Let’s hope he has settled matters with George Charamba and other presidential publicists with whom there were certain disagreements.
We recall Voice publisher Nathan Shamuyarira taking matters into his own hands when the usual gang became intractable, inviting news crews to Zimbabwe for interviews with the president regardless of objections from the inner circle.
Shamuyarira believed Mugabe could more than hold his own in any interview and didn’t need to be hand-held in front of the cameras. As for Mataire, his Wednesday piece was full of nostalgia for the architects of African unity. “Has Africa gone to the dogs?” he asks.
“The dilemma that Africa faces today,” he writes, “is that most of its current heads of state pay lip-service to the idea of a united Africa. They espouse rhetoric on the need for African solidarity while totally unwilling to practically bring unity to life.
“These African leaders also fail to act in a manner that fosters unity and solidarity. Their duplicitous stance is as much a problem to African unity just as the forces that strive to ensure the continued fragmentation of the continent.”
Mataire ropes in Pan-Africanist writers to bolster his claim that Mugabe is not alone in seeking renewal. And he recites Thabo Mbeki’s “I am an African” speech which is arguably the former president’s finest moment.
“I am the grandchild who lays flowers on the Boer graves at St Helena and the Bahamas, who sees in the mind’s eye and suffers the suffering of a simple peasant folk: death, concentration camps, destroyed homesteads and dreams in ruins … I am the grandchild of Nongqawuse … I come of those who were transported from India and China …”
Mataire speaks of Africa’s unfinished task. He writes for the Southern Times. We may not like the content, but he has something to say and says it well.
What an improvement on Rangu Nyamurundura, Panganai Kahuni, Isdore Guvamombe and the Bindura twins, Bowden Mbanje and Darlingtom Mahuku, who appear unable to think individually!
Mataire’s piece was headed “Africa needs more Mugabes”.
Tell them they can have ours and let’s hear what they say.
Below was a picture of Zuma and other African leaders laughing uproariously at something Mugabe had said. Could it be: “OK boys, I need this. It could be my last group photo. Next time Morgan Tsvangirai could be standing here.”
Is that what they found so funny?