A perceived alliance that never existed

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“President Mugabe, Mandela shared (a) warm relationship,” the Sunday Mail told us last weekend.”

MuckRaker

This was the view of Nelson Mandela’s grandson who was on a visit to Zimbabwe.

“My grandfather shared a warm relationship with President Mugabe dating back to their days in the liberation struggle,” Kweku Mandela said.

“The two shared a common background which was to see their respective countries free from colonial domination.”

Following Nelson Mandela’s death in December, some sections of the media insinuated that President Robert Mugabe had a strained relationship with the former South African leader, the Sunday Mail claimed. In fact as we all know the Mandela family spent much of their time at each other’s throats. The forced relocation of Madiba to Qunu was a sad event as it took him from his closest friends such as George Bizos.

This week, the Sunday Mail said, some publications have attempted to once again claim a rift between the two by citing excerpts of Zelda La Grange’s book, Good Morning Mr Mandela.

The excerpts in question claim the two fell out at a 1998 Sadc Summit in Mauritius, though there is no direct mention of the leaders exchanging words, the newspaper says.

Is the Sunday Mail seriously suggesting there was no strain in the relationship between the two leaders? La Grange was simply documenting what she witnessed as PA to Mandela.

It was common knowledge that the two leaders did not get on.

Wished camaraderie
Firstly it is important to note that Zanu PF was an ally of the PAC and Thabo Mbeki had to work very hard in 1980 to swing the ANC behind Mugabe and Zanu PF after the Zimbabwe election. Most ANC members saw Zapu’s defeat as their defeat.

Subsequently it would be true to argue that Mugabe saw Mandela’s election as president in 1994 as a threat to Zimbabwe’s regional ambitions.

Mandela on the one hand cultivated the Rainbow Nation as democratic and inclusivist whereas Mugabe’s vision was narrow, exclusivist and totalitarian.

Ideological tension
Sadc, which Mugabe presided over, became a field of combat with Mandela arguing that no one country should dominate the regional body.

This followed Zimbabwe’s participation in the war in the DRC in 1998.

In the end Mugabe was obliged to accept the rotational formula proposed by South Africa and others while Mugabe was propitiated by being allowed to assume the chairmanship under the new arrangement.

Another area of conflict had arisen in 1995 when Nobel laureates Nadine Gordimer and Wole Soyinka added their signatures to a petition protesting against Zimbabwe’s banning of Galz at the Harare Book Fair.

Mugabe opened the fair where he made the remarks about dogs and pigs.

Few observers spotted the sub-text to Mugabe’s outburst: Look what happens when people are able to choose their own identity without direction from their rulers; or even worse said Emille Paglia,when women are liberated from the tyranny of the reproductive cycle.

Given this furore, the Rainbow Nation in Mugabe’s mind was a particularly pernicious instrument.

Cartoonists had a field day. Who can forget Zapiro’s Marie Antoinette in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles? Come to think of it we have a new Marie Antoinette don’t we?

But that apart, it is obvious that things were not as Kweku would have us believe!

Off the hook
Harare traffic cops will no longer chase after motorists or throw spikes at them, following a public outcry.

“We have taken time to listen to the people,” city spokesman Leslie Gwindi has said.

So they have only now decided they won’t damage your cars or injure street kids!

We also wait to hear how long it takes them to get illegal structures knocked down. Who is responsible for instance for the unauthorised car park opposite Prince Edward school?

Most councillors do not understand the workings of the Urban Councils Act, former mayor Muchadeya Masunda told a parliamentary portfolio committee last week.

And have councillors ascertained Town Clerk Dr Mahachi’s actual age yet? It seems to vary from 1950 to 1956 to meet pension problems. And he enjoys unfettered executive powers when the mayor is secondary! What chaos!

How do our rulers get away with such blatant manipulation.

Kids’ stuff
What is this preoccupation with dressing up children as soldiers and policemen as seen in the state media?

We don’t want to rain on their parade but how worthwhile is it? What do these children emerge with at the end of the day? Do they do this anywhere else we wonder, or as we suspect, is it considered politically unhealthy in most democratic societies?

It is interesting to note that there is no explanation to go with the pictures. Perhaps the sponsors can explain! At the same time they can tell us how preparations for the weevil ball are coming along.

How many ministers will be attending and doing the time warp? “It’s just a jump to the left, then a step to the right …”

Wake-up call
Our MPs who seem to have perfected the art of misrepresenting the electorate and missing out on developmental targets they promise during electoral campaigns, unfortunately got stranded after missing a flight from China.

Used to arriving late for meetings in their constituencies and still receiving thunderous receptions from the poor electorate, the MPs perhaps thought airlines could as well tolerate their lack of time consciousness!

It’s unlikely that Zimbabweans would sympathise with them for exhibiting such childish behaviour by extending their shopping spree. Muck believes it’s a wake-up call.

Biting

Those of our readers who are following the Luis Suarez drama will have been amused by a cartoon appearing on a website.

It showed Suarez wearing one of those fan collars a vet applies to a dog to prevent it from biting itself.

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