PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe’s remarks at his 93rd birthday celebrations in Matobo last weekend mocking Zimbabweans in the diaspora show not only how the nonagenarian is detached from reality, but also that he is insensitive and cynical.
Candid Comment,Faith zaba
To the astonishment of many Zimbabweans, whose families have broken up and are scattered across the globe because of Mugabe’s ruinous leadership policies, he chose to disparage diasporans at a time when his citizens in neighbouring South Africa were enduring xenophobic attacks.
“What is that you get in America which you cannot get in Zimbabwe? I have not yet seen a person who, after working so many years in America, has come home with so much money, they return poor only to start looking for jobs here again,” he said.
This is coming from a leader who, through his disastrous rule, has reduced the country to a basket case, characterised by a severe liquidity crunch, low capacity utilisation of less than 50%, company closures and massive job losses.
Mugabe’s remarks are nothing but shocking when 95% of the country’s employable population is jobless and when graduates churned out of the 20 plus universities are vending on the streets.
The majority of the three million Zimbabweans that have fled the country to become economic refugees have done so unwillingly. They flee poverty and hunger. Why do Mugabe’s children reside mostly outside Zimbabwe, shop and holiday in the Far East when he believes all is well here?
Mugabe deliberately opts to ignore that most people risk death by crossing the crocodile-infested Limpopo River, with some crawling under thick layers of barbed wire to illegally enter South Africa and contend with xenophobic attacks.
Does the President understand there are economically constrained people who wake up not knowing where the next dollar will come from, with no money to provide the basic necessities for their families? This harsh reality of economic dross has seen some parents failing to pay the basic minimum school fees. In all seriousness, does Mugabe expect people to simply sit at home and starve? That most Zimbabweans outside the country are economic refugees, should inform his conscience better. Zimbabweans in South Africa, the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, among other sanctuaries, are victims of Mugabe’s misrule. Why should Mugabe be perplexed then?
Ironically his government is now relying on remittances from the diaspora, which amounted to US$779 million in 2016.
Showing that his logic is twisted, Mugabe cannot understand he presides over a government sustained by remittances from the very people he insults and is contemptuous of. Mugabe has abandoned or simply forgotten he has an obligation to create an investor-friendly environment to facilitate resuscitation of the economy.
He is unfortunately taking people’s suffering for a joke. Mugabe must be sensitive to people’s plight. Is it not through diaspora remittances that he is able to access medical treatment in Singapore?