PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe’s utterances over the weekend to the effect that he preferred Zimbabweans to suffer rather than for his government to scrap toxic policies like indigenisation to attract investment, exposed his pettiness.
Candid Comment,Faith Zaba
They also betrayed his obsession with fighting the West at the expense of national interest.
Speaking at the burial of former health minister Felix Muchemwa on Sunday, Mugabe said it was better for the economy to continue on a downward spiral than to be forced to change policies.
“Some will say your policies are blocking funding. Americans and British might want to pour lots of funds into the country if we don’t have policies like indigenisation and empowerment. Nonsense!” he thundered. “Let’s suffer if we are going to suffer …”
The utterances reflect how Mugabe is willing to sacrifice the country’s needs to please his oversized ego, while also revealing he is out of touch with the needs of ordinary Zimbabweans.
It is clear that Mugabe is not worried that Zimbabwe — which has been decimated by a debilitating liquidity crunch, low capacity utilisation of less than 35%, company closures and massive job losses — is desperately in need of investment and a fresh injection of capital. He also does not realise that his fight with the West is damaging his country and that other countries, including China and Russia, which do not see eye-to-eye with Western countries on some issues, seek to negotiate and engage behind-the-scenes through diplomacy, while keeping trade and investment relations intact.
It does not ring a bell in Mugabe’s head that ordinary Zimbabweans would prefer he engages all nations and that the government crafts policies conducive for investment.
Ironically, he is shouting from the top of the mountain saying Zimbabweans would rather remain poor, when he in fact is not poor himself.
He lives in a huge mansion; spends millions of the taxpayers’ money on foreign travels; and owns state-of-the-art vehicles bought by poor Zimbabweans. His family has 14 farms acquired through the land reform programme. He even has the luxury of travelling to the Far East for medical treatment at the expense of the poor taxpayers. Mugabe can therefore afford to be obstinate at the expense of the nation and the people.
The only time he gets affected by the bad relations with the West is when they stop him from going shopping at Harrods in London and other European capitals. Even then, he has a lot of choices, amongst them Singapore, Dubai and Malaysia. But for once he should put the interest of the nation ahead of that of his ego. He should learn from the Chinese whom he claims to be close to.
A recent paper from the Washington-based economics think-tank, Brookings Institute, provides a simple but profound insight into Beijing’s political economy mindset: “China’s main concern is making China a rich and powerful geopolitical force, gunning for global dominance.”
Mugabe should similarly put Zimbabwe and its people first, not his ego. He has become a great liability to the country and time has come for him to think about the nation and future generations before opening his mouth and causing more damage.