PRESIDENT Robert Mu-gabe was trending on social media yesterday morning — especially on Twitter — while attending World Economic Forum on Africa in the South African eastern seaboard city of Durban for all the wrong reasons: sleeping while on duty.
Editor’s Memo,Dumisani Muleya
Although leaders old and young might doze at work, falling asleep at summits, conferences and meetings is now Mugabe’s habit, just like his temperamental peculiarity of making outbursts ad infinitum at international platforms.
Mugabe was photographed sleeping at the Durban summit, sparking a Twitter storm. Only recently he was captured sleeping during Ghana’s independence celebrations in Accra, something which has become habitual largely due to old age and frailty. The 93-year-old leader is now unable to walk around and function properly.
After yesterday’s spectacle, people took to social media to ridicule and criticise Mugabe for wasting public funds travelling to all sorts of meetings, only to fall asleep in public at work.
Some even asked how the dawn of a digital revolution changing almost every part of our lives – jobs, relationships, industries, economies and entire regions – will help Africa move forward with leaders like these.
Africa — largely bypassed by previous industrial revolutions —stands in a unique position to reap the dividends of the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution and technological advances. One of the reasons Africa is poor is that it was left behind by previous industrial revolutions. Its young and growing population, vast resources and largely untapped markets provide the foundations for a continent-wide rise, powered by technological innovations.
To a large extent, when the first and second industrial revolutions took place in the West, with the adoption of machines and factories across Europe, Africa was left out of the development loop.
During the Second Industrial Revolution, driven by electricity and expansion of steel and petroleum, as more people swarmed the cities, Africa still lagged behind. It was not until the Third Industrial Revolution, when information communications technologies came, that the continent got connected and is now online on the global village.
And now, as we face the Fourth Industrial Revolution in which barriers between backwardness and modernity are being broken by technology, the weakest link has become poor leadership and bad governance symbolised by dinosaur ruling elites like Mugabe. This brings a major disconnect as Africa has been undergoing a digital revolution for the last 17 years and is gradually achieving the standards of the most advanced nations in some respects.
While the subject of sleeping at work has different interpretations in different societies, in this part of the world, in Zimbabwe in particular, it is unacceptable. Our practice is that no one should come to work to sleep on the job. No siestas at work like they do elsewhere.
That’s why some companies tell employees that: “Be strongly reminded that sleeping during working hours is an act of major misconduct. Any employee found to be doing so will be subjected to serious disciplinary action leading to termination or dismissal of service from the company if necessary. As such, employees are strictly prohibited from committing such an act of misconduct during working hours in the company premises.”
This warning must be put in the Office of the President and Cabinet at Munhumutapa Building.
Sleeping at work is disruptive, affects efficiency and reduces the culprits to a joke. It invites derision and disparaging remarks.
Ordinarily, we should be feeling sorry for Mugabe, but his refusal to accept he is old and insistence on holding office in a country confronted with so many problems, in fact in deep crisis, makes him the target of scrutiny and criticism. The solution is for him to quit, go home and rest. Instead of going to global platforms to become a sleeping spectacle, he must be sitting at home reminiscing and reflecting on his long career in his declining years.