The South African Sunday Times has several outstanding contributors but few as sharp as former Financial Mail editor Barney Mthombothi.
His commentary on the AU last weekend was particularly pithy.
Word from Addis Ababa, he wrote, was that Nkosazana Zuma may not be keen to seek another term as AU commission chair. It’s turning into an old-age home he said.
“The election last week of the doddering 90-year-old Robert Mugabe as AU chairman should be a nail in its coffin. It’s a further setback for an organisation that often seems disconnected from reality.
“Mugabe has been provided with a pedestal, a megaphone for his diatribes. Perhaps the two deserve each other. The continent and its people are the losers, and a laughing stock. Mugabe’s election and the fact that he was seen tripping and tumbling a few days later, much to the amusement of his many admirers, invites all sorts of rich allusions that are perhaps better left unsaid.
Mugabe’s age obviously matters, Mthombothi wrote. “At almost 91 he can barely carry out the function the position requires of him. But more concerning is the awful baggage he brings to the organisation.
He’s run his country’s economy into the ground, has violently suppressed the opposition, and stolen elections. He surely can’t be the face or voice of a forward looking Africa that has to build its economy to cater for an ever-growing population.
He’s outmoded, backward, and ancient. He does not in any way represent the views of the continent, especially the young people who are the majority.”
Mthombothi’s article is headed Doddering despot Mugabe a symbol of an AU that shames Africa.
That would be a heading many Zimbabweans could subscribe to.
President Edgar Lungu of Zambia on his first official visit flew into Harare last Friday. He had come to “seek wisdom from the elders”, he said.
The official press were duly impressed by this fatuous nonsense.
Have we heard any of this before? Muckraker recalls Frederick Chiluba denouncing the MDC-T and praising Mugabe to the skies. Let’s see if history will repeat itself.
“The AU has been of little use to ordinary Africans,” Mthombothi concluded.
“For instance it hasn’t done much to help with the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. It would not be mourned or even noticed if it were to disappear into a black hole.
“Electing Mugabe may not be a bad idea after all. He may just hasten its demise. Hopefully he will hang around long enough to switch off the lights.”
Construction of Zimbabwe’s new capital at Mount Hampden will begin within the next two years, the Sunday Mail announced last weekend. The proposal has already gone through cabinet and the government is looking for “appropriate partners”, the city’s director of physical planning said.
This is an example of the irresponsible spending this government is known for. There is absolutely no compelling need for a new capital.
We already have a capital which is badly run. Why doesn’t the council turn its attention to road improvements, lighting, schools and water supply? They would soon attract “partners”.
Building a new capital cannot be justified. And why is the new mayor jumping on the bandwagon? At least he has dug the concrete island out of Josaya Tongogara that was an accident waiting to happen.
Zanu PF youth league, obviously running out of progressive ideas, but striving to please their master, thought it fit to propose that President Robert Mugabe’s birthday should be declared a national holiday.
The media on Tuesday quoted the ruling party’s secretary for youth affairs in the politburo, Pupurai Togarepi as having said: “As (Zanu PF) youth league, we are proposing that there must be Robert Mugabe Day on our national calendar in recognition of the immense contribution he has made to Zimbabwe.”
Isn’t it proper to qualify it as a doomsday?
Pomp and fanfare that characterise many of Mugabe’s birthday bashes are perplexing when seen in direct contrast to the suffering and dejection of the majority of Zimbabweans who still cannot envision what’s in store for them economically.
Lacking the political will to reinvigorate the constrained fiscal environment, Zanu PF youth league is just climbing aboard the bandwagon of other party wings which, without remorse, find it noble to heap unnecessary praise on an ailing and incapable leader who has suddenly become a liability to the nation.
Instead, Zanu PF, having been in power since 1980, should be refocusing and realigning its policies to protect national resources from plunder for selfish gains as in the case of throwing parties for an old and unrelenting dictator. Justifying the move by comparing Mugabe to global icons such as Nelson Mandela is a greatest mistake that makes Africa a laughing stock.
Out of touch
Is Zanu PF youth league telling us that political mayhem, economic malaise, Gukurahundi massacres, sanctions, derailing the health and education sectors and isolating the country from the global trade, among a host of ills afflicting the nation today — all resulting from Mugabe’s less visionary rule, should be honoured and commemorated?
Is the Zimbabwe they are living in of a sound economy that forces top party officials to deliver millions of jobs they promised in their 2013 campaign manifesto? They have already shifted focus to blow a trumpet in support of a livid individual who seems to be out of touch with the goings on in the country he claims to lead.
Are retrenchments and company closures not enough holidays granted to citizens by Mugabe’s leadership failure? Why should February 21 become superior when it creates hell on earth for ZBC TV viewers and radio listeners, who are constantly bombarded by cheap propaganda, ridiculous reminders of his liberation war and academic credentials?
It’s time Zanu PF modernised itself and accorded citizens their democratic rights. Mugabe is aptly neither bulwark of security nor a guarantee that peace and development will prevail. In fact, the suffering of the masses is going to worsen while political turmoil shall remain a thorn in the flesh as long as Mugabe’s “I won’t go” mentality remains government’s modus operandi.
Isn’t it frightening that Zimbabwe is likely to suffer from democracy deficiencies for a long time.
A leader of an opposition who won an election in 2008 and was denied ascending to the presidential throne by political machinations instituted by Zanu PF sadly believes in depriving his colleagues the fruits of the technological revolution.
Someone should inform MDC-T president Morgan Tsvangirai that the internet is the new public sphere essential for a healthy democracy.
MDC-T officials must be allowed to access forums that are meant for political discussions and if Tsvangirai thinks he is a great leader, then he shouldn’t be afraid of criticism.
Isn’t the beleaguered MDC-T leader confirming he is a dictator too? How does someone with an ancient mentality expect to take us forward as a nation? Tsvangirai seriously needs political grooming to be saved from this savagery.