Observers of the political scene in Zimbabwe would have had no difficulty ascertaining the views of those in power by the ancien regime’s reaction to the death of Nelson Mandela.
Their first response was to ignore the event altogether. They then waited 12 hours before weighing their response.
Approached for comment by a reporter, one official asked the reporter if he thought that President Robert Mugabe had nothing better to do. Indeed, there was a general sense in the ruling party that Mandela’s passing was no more than an irritation. It led to unfair comparisons, we were told.
Canadian columnist Stephen Gowans claimed Mandela and Mugabe are the key figures in the liberation of black Southern Africa from white rule.
“So why does the West overflow with hosannas for Mandela and continue to revile Mugabe?” Gowans asked “Why is Mandela the good national leader and Mugabe the bad?
Mugabe’s office did put out a generous if belated statement on Friday declaring Mandela a champion of the oppressed. But the president was soon back to his anti-Western diatribes at a funeral at Heroes Acre on Sunday.
Conspicuously he didn’t mention Mandela.
This was no mean achievement given that the rest of the world was taking in the news and analysing the implications. Herald columnists on the other hand wanted it known that Mandela had got it wrong on reconciliation. He had over-indulged South Africa’s whites, it was claimed.
Failure of leadership
Herald columnist Amai Jukwa, assisted by Harvard scholar Garikai Chengu, was also soon back in action rubbishing South Africa’s hero.
Amplifying a theme Mugabe touched on in his interview with SABC’s Dali Tambo, Amai Jukwa claimed: “Mandela’s saintly concessions will haunt South Africa’s quest for economic equality for generations to come. Mandela went into prison a revolutionary calling for justice but he came out a broken man, a cuddly puppy in the hands of white capital.”
“Three cruel decades in a white man’s prison can break a man.”
Mandela had allowed himself to be co-opted by the Western media, Amai Jukwa said, to speak about “the supposed failure of leadership in Zimbabwe”.
What arrant nonsense! Should Zimbabweans remain silent when confronted by the failure of leadership in their country? Or when there is evidence of human rights abuses since the 1980s.
Is Gowans even aware of the assault on Morgan Tsvangirai and his chief lieutenants at Machipisa in 2007?
We seem to recall the president using the word “bashed” at some point. The evidence of failure of leadership is everywhere, in the crumbling economy, cities and declining service provision.
The reason Mandela’s legacy is praised and Mugabe’s ignored is because South Africa, despite its enormous complexity and challenges, is committed to certain values thanks to Madiba. Indeed, there is a clear distinction between Mandela’s inclusive and democratic values and Mugabe’s narrow and exclusive nationalism.
The onslaught turned from ridiculous to ludicrous culminating in the botched hatchet job by Lovemore Mataire entitled “What is an African hero?”.
Mataire described Mandela’s one-term presidential reign as a “dumb-squib” as it focused on “abstract issues like unity and reconciliation, leaving out the real levers of power: land and capital”.
Indeed these concepts seem abstract to Zanu PF as the party’s divisive legacy over the past three decades attests.
“As Africa and the world salute Mandela’s contribution in giving Africa a dignified status, one must never forget that he was the same man who presided over the consummation of a colourful national flag that curiously does not bear the black colour,” Mataire shockingly opined.
Mataire had clearly not bothered to acquaint himself with what the South African flag looks like before launching into such a false claim driven by malice and blissful ignorance.
The black colour features prominently on the flag, as any cursory glance will reveal. However, facts were not about to get in the way of a determined smear campaign. Mataire continued to dig himself into a hole.
“It is also curious that South Africa does not celebrate Independence Day but what they call Freedom Day. South Africa is also one of the few countries that do not recognise Africa Day,” he daftly continued.
Independence from who we wonder? South Africa was not a colony like Rhodesia. The Union of South Africa was founded as a dominion of the British Empire in 1910, becoming a republic in 1961.
One wonders if Mataire has ever read history. Has he not heard of colonialism of a special kind? Besides, where were the Herald editors when such ignorant articles about Mandela were published?
Manheru in the dark
Last Saturday Nathaniel Manheru was also on the offensive. He made the following claim.
“I am black and oppressed. I know the tongs of oppression that scarred my skin, the hard forced labour that caroused (sic) (did he mean calloused) my hands and gave me lasting scars, all that came from white oppressors.”
This is as good as it gets. For this is no ordinary victim of oppression. Manheru represents the pretentions of a ruling elite who live off the fat of the land and denounce their critics in excoriating terms.
Gluttony writ large
The CEO of ZBC takes home a salary and allowances of nearly US$40 000 a month plus an entertainment allowance of US$3 000 a month while workers went without pay. So that’s where our licence fees went. When the Zimbabwe Independent criticised Happison Muchechetere and his management at Pocket’s Hill, he tried to sue us.
Any viewer of the corporation’s output would agree they do not provide value for money. Then there are the five business class air tickets issued annually which the CEO makes use of.
Talk about snout in the trough!
Blind leading blind
Meanwhile, Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema has ironically declared that South Africa should not be led by illiterate people. This is despite Malema having graduated from high school with a startling collection of failing marks at the ripe age of 21.
Malema had an E in his own language Sepedi and second language Afrikaans, an F in geography, D in history and a C in another second language English, the latter being his highest mark.
As if that was not shocking enough, Malema could only manage a G in standard grade woodwork.
The EFF commander in chief never achieved more than 60% in any of his school subjects during this time according to the South African Independent.
Despite his poor results, Malema successfully registered for a degree at Unisa.
“I’m doing a BA with Unisa after completing my diploma,”
gloated Malema. “It is a BA specialising in politics and citizenship. For sustainability of our struggle and economic emancipation, we need to equip ourselves with the proper tool which is education.”
Because of his newly-found qualifications, Malema feels entitled to take a swipe at President Jacob Zuma whom he described as illiterate.
“There’s no successful revolution which is going to be led by illiterates,” Malema told a South African radio station. “Today we’re living with those consequences. We shouldn’t send a message to the younger generation that illiteracy can get you through because they will never see the importance of being educated.”
Coming from the king of tenderpreneurs who became an overnight millionaire such utterances ring hollow.
Another bites the dust
Finally this week Joseph Chinotimba joined the ever-growing list of officials succumbing to Mugabe’s dreary speeches at Heroes Acre.
Cde Chinos was spotted taking the proverbial forty winks as Mugabe delivered the keynote address at the burial of Brigadier-General Misheck Tanyanyiwa and was joined in the snooze brigade by police chief Augustine Chihuri, Health deputy minister Paul Chimedza and many other senior government officials.
Members of the police band also struggled to stay awake as Mugabe’s long-winded speech showed no signs of abating.
Other notable recent scalps include Tendai Savanhu who collapsed at the burial of Vice-President John Nkomo in January.
Savanhu had to be wheeled-off on a stretcher lying prostrate along with a senior police officer who also fell to the ground.
… (Mandela) presided over the consummation of a colourful national flag that curiously does not bear the black colour,” Mataire shockingly opined.