PRESIDENT Robert Mug-abe yesterday left for Bamako, Mali, purportedly at the invitation of IBK — President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita — to witness the signing of his country’s peace deal today in his capacity as AU chairman.
Mali’s Tuareg-led rebels signed a preliminary peace agreement with the government yesterday as a gesture of “good faith” to end decades of separatist fighting, but wanted more guarantees before signing a final accord.
Mali’s government accepted the UN and Algerian-backed deal in March, but the Tuareg-led coalition argued it fell short of its demands relating to the control of the northern region, which they call Azawad, and thus sporadic fighting has continued.
Rebels want control of the territory and have intermittently revolted against the government since the country’s independence from France in 1960.
Since returning home from his annual holidays in Singapore in January, the gallivanting Mugabe has made over 10 foreign trips; crisscrossing the continent and the world from Zimbabwe to South Africa, Zambia, Ethiopia, Algeria, Tanzania, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, Japan, Namibia, Indonesia, Russia and now Mali.
All the while Zimbabwe’s economy has been on a tailspin, with companies closing down or de-industrialisation gathering momentum on a massive scale, while people are being retrenched at an alarming rate.
This has fuelled unemployment, already at stratospheric levels and rampant poverty, as well as emigration in droves.
Mugabe’s woolgathering 2013 electoral promises, which include creating two million jobs by 2018, are not only being unfulfilled, but have also proved to be pie in the sky.
In fact, they are proving to be what they always were: a pipedream.
Instead of attending to pressing issues at home as someone who claims to care for the people so much and who is allegedly trusted by Zimbabweans as some fanciful surveys would have us believe, Mugabe is always flying around the world to deal with remote issues which don’t directly affect the welfare of his nation and its people.
His trips, which are costly and wasteful, don’t add value to people’s lives, yet he seems more committed to external issues rather that urgent domestic problems.
Whenever he is around he is hardly hands-on due to old age and health failures. Those close to him also say he always sleeps at meetings and is increasingly showing signs of frailty, meaning he has lost energy, capacity and staying power leaving him bordering on incapacitation from exhaustion, infirmity and dotage.
When you add all of this up, Mugabe is guilty of dereliction of duty for failing to do his job appropriately, consistently and competently.
He is guilty of failing to put the well-being of his nation and people ahead of dubious and self-serving foreign commitments.
Whenever there are pressing issues at home, Mugabe’s counterparts all over the world assign their deputies or ministers while they remain pulling out all the stops, working. He doesn’t and so he attends all sorts of meetings, including ones on gender issues where a senior government female minister or official would be more suitable.
For instance, South African President Jacob Zuma did not go to Namibia for President Hage Geingob’s inauguration and Indonesia for the Africa-Asia summit because of the death of his minister Collins Chabane and xenophobic violence respectively. His deputy Cyril Ramaphosa represented him.
Mugabe, who is now like a tourist in his own country, would have first attended the funeral and dealt with the xenophobic issues but still travelled.
It seems he just can’t trust anybody even with the most basic duties, which is consistent with the idiosyncrasies of dictators who somehow delusionally think they can be all-knowing, ubiquitous and invincible.
But the issue is Mugabe’s dereliction of duty has gone too far. He has clearly failed to perform his duties with commitment, consistency and competence. This makes him such a bad and toxic leader. It gets worse when you consider his appalling record of misrule.