AS Zimbabweans, we have become accustomed to the mediocre and absurd at the top echelons of power, haven’t we?We are no longer shocked when we receive bizarre news, such as an axe-wielding vice-president chasing his wife in a fit of rage and in the full glare of the police.
We also witnessed another vice-president — a former military general — unleashing high-ranking members of the army’s Presidential Guard unit, on his defenceless and sickly wife, to settle a domestic dispute.
Perhaps it was a coincidence, but at a time Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga and his wife Marry’s divorce proceedings were playing out in court, the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission descended on Marry, arresting her on charges of money laundering and externalisation of foreign currency. Some viewed this as a blatant abuse of state institutions, but is this not the norm with the ruling elite?
Zimbabweans have seen it all; be it poor and inconsistent economic policies, bad governance, lip service to the reform agenda, corrupt cartel leaders becoming presidential advisors and the country’s leaders blaming sanctions for the cost of corruption and clueless leadership. Over the weekend, we heard Defence minister Oppah Muchinguri claiming that the deadly novel coronavirus that has wreaked havoc worldwide, killing over 9 000 people, was part of God’s punishment on Western countries, particularly the United States for “paralysing” Zimbabwe’s economy through sanctions.
Muchinguri, a career minister, torched a diplomatic storm and made global headlines through her reckless and ill-advised statement.The unfortunate statement sparked global outrage, with diplomats and political analysts describing it as a dark and insensitive.
“God is now punishing them and they are staying indoors now while their economy is screaming like what they did to ours by imposing sanctions on us . . . They (US) must face the consequences of coronavirus so that they also feel the pain,” Muchinguri said.
While celebrating that the virus was wreaking havoc in the US, Muchinguri forgot that it originated in China, Zimbabwe’s “all-weather friend”, before spreading rapidly to affect over 176 countries.
Our regional peers South Africa, Zambia, Tanzania and Namibia have also been affected. It is by God’s grace that Zimbabwe has not had a confirmed case yet. Given Zimbabwe’s weak systems and poor health delivery system, thanks to the country’s inept leadership, the country is likely to face a real crisis should the virus knock on our doors. While President Emmerson Mnangagwa — who has so far proven to be an ineffective and uninspiring leader since assuming power in a military coup in November 2017 — was quick to distance the government from Muchinguri’s statements; the calibre of his Cabinet ministers was displayed for the world to see.
With such people on the seat of power, it is crystal clear why Zimbabwe continues its descent into the abyss.