“A lot has been said about me denigrating Father Zimbabwe (Joshua Nkomo). Media is good, but sometimes the media over-exaggerates things. To me Father Zimbabwe was my father … That is why I decided to talk about it because for a long time you have been hoodwinked and I want to say sorry about that misleading silence.”
President Robert Mugabe over the weekend attacked doctors over their stance to start charging their services in cash and not accept medical aid cards as a result of the failure by the medical aid companies to pay them what they owe.
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“Today, when we read about the stand-off between doctors and medical insurers, we never cease to wonder what has become of these fields of care. Have they lost their values that used to define them to life and its sustenance?
“True, we expect everyone, doctors included, to be rewarded evenly for work done. But is it not important for us all in the medical field to appreciate the social context within which we execute our duties?” he said at the burial of former health minister Felix Muchemwa at the Heroes Acre on Sunday
The remarks by Mugabe accusing doctors of being insensitive and greedy are irony writ large. Mugabe asks doctors to “appreciate the social context” when he blows more than US$30 million on foreign trips over a nine-month period at a time national coffers are severely depleted. He speaks of lost values when he thinks nothing of spending nearly a million dollars celebrating his birthday at a time the country’s citizens are facing famine.
He talks of greed when he and his family have grabbed more than 10 farms despite advocating a one-man-one farm policy. This is a classic case of seeing the log in one’s eye and ignoring the huge log in his.
Mugabe is the last person anyone will listen to about the virtues of sacrifice and will in fact strengthen the doctors’ resolve to stand firm. In any case how does he know about the selfishness of local doctors when he gets his treatment in Singapore?
Reports that the National Prosecuting (or is it prosecuted) Authority’s (NPA) operations, which is looking for donors to help sustain its operations, has been taken over by soldiers makes sad reading.
Army officers at the NPA include Colonel Solomon Siziba, who is the NPA secretary, Major Levy Msipa (administration finance), Major Garikai Manyeruke (secretary human resources) and Captain Chipadza, the human resources manager.
That the NPA was now compromised and no longer operates independently as stipulated by the Constitution because of the presence of the military, which is now in charge of critical departments such as finance, is an indication of how a vital component in the justice system, like so many other national institutions, has been turned into a laughing stock.
It is understandable that no donor worth his salt would want to put their money in an organisation that has been turned into a virtual army barrack.
The NPA does not have a photocopying machine and does its photocopying elsewhere which is an embarrassment and seriously compromises the justice system.
That such an important institution does not even have toilet papers, probably relying on used charge sheets, is a travesty of justice (no pun intended).
This is what happens when a country is cursed with such impoverished leadership.
Even the most cynical scriptwriter could not have imagined that one day the government, which has socialist pretensions, would fail to pay the salaries of workers. And pretty much like a character from the Star Wars science fiction series, Mugabe and his government have ‘boldly’ gone where no government has gone in the history of this country by its failure to cough up. Even at the height of the real sanctions (not the targeted measures) which lasted from 1965 to 1979, Ian Smith’s Rhodesian Front did not flinch from its responsibility. Civil Servants were paid timeously and in the illegal regime’s own currency.
It was Marxist Paulo Freire who said that the oppressor is the dehumanised and oppressed person’s model of what it means to become fully human. And looking at Mugabe who was for 11 years a guest of Smith at various prisons and detention centres during the struggle for independence, we cannot help but say ‘hear hear’ to Freire and Frantz Fanon for their incisive psychoanalytical diagnosis. However, much as he has tried to project himself as different from the rabidly racist Smith, Mugabe has only succeeded in demonstrating that he was in actual fact his ablest pupil. How else does one explain that Mugabe went back into the Rhodesian archives and dusted down a trusty Statutory Instrument from 1974 prohibiting the importation of basic goods into the country?
It’s not as if it is anything new- Mugabe maintained the State of Emergency until pressure was brought to bear on him in 1990. The Official Secrets Act is still very much intact while the notorious Law and Order (Maintenance) Act and only replaced it with the more heinous Public Order and Security Act.
Judging by her struggles with the Ndebele language while addressing her maiden political rally as an opposition leader in Bulawayo, former vice-president Joice Mujuru must have taken on too many lessons in the language in too short a time. “Mina ngingu Ma-Ndlovu” (I am of the Ndlovu clan), she said to cheers from the thousands.
There were several more tit-bits she volunteered and we of course have nothing against people and politicians trying their best to ingratiate themselves with the electorate.
But our biggest take home from that rally is that spending close to 40 years in Zanu PF, 10 of them as Mugabe’s second-in-command, can take its toll on even the most well-meaning person.
For Mujuru it must have inculcated a strong disposition towards glib and dissembling rhetoric over issues.
Instead of apologising for her disparaging remarks insinuating that former vice-president Joshua Nkomo had become senile and incapable of rational decision in the 1997 Econet licencing saga, Mujuru chose to blame the media for reporting on her rude and disrespectful remarks.
“A lot has been said about me denigrating Father Zimbabwe (Joshua Nkomo). Media is good, but sometimes the media over-exaggerates things. To me Father Zimbabwe was my father. That is why I decided to talk about it because for a long time you have been hoodwinked and I want to say sorry about that misleading silence,” she said.
It would have been simpler to offer an unconditional apology than shoot the messenger in this case. And in doing so, Mujuru would have shown herself to be different from Mugabe who has refused to apologise for the 1980s Gukurahundi which led to over 20 000 deaths in Matabeleland. Instead of simply saying sorry, Mugabe chose to call the whole episode “a moment of madness” without actually explaining who perpetrated the madness and what it entailed.
short and sweet…
Thumbing the nose at aid
Mugabe’s startling remarks at the Heroes’ Acre were not limited to the issue of doctors though. He went on to dismiss as nonsense concerns about the toxic policy on indigenisation, even going as far as telling countries such as the United States and United Kingdom “to keep their resources”
It is thoughtless comments like this that go a long way to explain why the country finds itself in this economic morass. It also shows just how incredibly selfish Mugabe is as he remains cocooned from the suffering of the generality of Zimbabweans.
Mugabe and his family have the luxury of shunning hospitals he has destroyed through misrule preferring to fly across oceans for treatment in foreign hospitals be it for an eye irritation or the birth of his first grandson while Zimbabweans battle to access painkillers in the country’s hospitals, which have become death traps.
That 95% of Zimbabweans are unemployed with most resorting to selling airtime and pig trotters due to lack of investment which he thumbs his nose at, does not bother him one iota.
That such a crass and selfish individual wants to rule for life even beyond the grave, as his wife Grace put it, makes the skin crawl and is a death sentence for the country’s economic recovery prospects.