EVEN as he was dying, Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda, one of Africa’s worst dictators, affectionately known as the Ngwazi mostly by those who benefitted from his decades of political madness, believed he was still president of Malawi. This was despite the fact that Bakili Muluzi had already changed curtains at State House.
Paying Banda a courtesy visit in hospital one day, Muluzi is reported to have introduced himself to the dictator who responded “Muluzi, you are minister of what? I don’t remember appointing you”. Of course, this was senility. To the grave, Malawi Congress Party (MCP) followed despotic Banda, never to be resurrected. Mugabe seems to be doing to Zanu PF what Banda did to MCP. Indeed, history repeating itself.
Following President’ Mugabe’s so-called State of the Nation Address this week, one could not help but wonder if this was the same man purportedly running Zimbabwe. Was it the local equivalent of the Ngwazi in his final moments known to his admirers as Gushungo? Is Mugabe aware that Zimbabwe is experiencing the worst socio-economic crisis of all time? Or, like Banda, he cares more about the title of “life” president than anything else.
Given the diversity of prodigious challenges that the nation is currently grappling with, Mugabe sounded no better than a first time visitor from Antarctica or another planet who had been requested to make a brief speech at short notice with very little knowledge of the subject, which is Zimbabwe.
The state media has gone to town over what they refer to as 10-point plan to turn around the economy. I doubt if Mugabe can recite half of those ten points. Even the pliant media can’t go beyond regurgitating the points. Moreover, Zanu PF has never had a shortage of plans. They also have an abundance of implementation deficit. Conspicuously, the hollow address did not mention Zimbabwe’s biggest and rapidly growing economy at the moment; the vending economy.
As some have already pointed out, there was no reference to the commitment to implement the new constitution that is fast gathering dust in the shelves since it was adopted. Consequently, the constitutional court has been kept extremely and unnecessarily busy by cases that would have been easily avoided if the supreme law was followed to the letter. It would appear that as long as Mugabe is president and Tobaiwa Mudede is Registrar-General, Mutumwa Mawere or Daniel Madzimbamuto (Jnr) would still need to approach the constitutional court in order to renew their Zimbabwean passports. Of course, this is absolute nonsense!Advertisement
Why Mugabe never made any reference to Itai Dzamara despite the global interest this matter has caused, remains a mystery. And the answer to the mystery is that Mugabe or somebody known to him, knows where Itai Dzamara is or what happened to him. That Emmerson Mnangagwa is the only most senior official who has made some half-hearted reference to Dzamara’s forced disappearance, makes us even more suspicious. Indeed, a typical case of crocodile tears!
As for Mugabe’s pipe-dream about the Diaspora, all I can say is that Zimbabweans around the world have tested real freedom, democracy, human rights and prosperity. Unless we go back to the basics, the Diaspora will not listen to any nonsense coming out of ZANU PF’s book of fantasy. While they are passionate about Zimbabwe, those sons and daughters who work very hard for their dollar, won’t throw it into a pit whose depth is only determined by Zanu PF.
From their experience, it is preposterous for a mere town clerk of an insignificant city in Zimbabwe to earn as much as $20,000 per month plus benefits in a comatose economy such as ours. They know that money does not grow on trees and will not be used as cash cows by a very corrupt, incompetent, desperate but cruel regime.
When he was campaigning to dislodge Kenneth Kaunda from the presidency, Fredrick Chiluba once said “This old man is tired but not retired”. Indeed, Robert Gabriel Mugabe is now visibly tired, very tired, he must go home and rest. From trademark speeches lasting hours, he is now down to hardly half an hour. Mwana waani?
Mugabe and Zanu PF seem to be ostensibly banking on China to bail them out. What they conveniently forget is that the Chinese are political communists in ideology but economic capitalists in practice. They would rather pour billions of dollars into the Australian or South American economy than a few millions in Zimbabwe.
Of course, if it’s time to dumb antiquated military hardware, Zimbabwe is one of their priority destinations. The Chinese may look stupid but they know the value of money. Zanu PF will soon realise that getting any meaningful bail-out from China is like squeezing diesel out of the rocks of Chinhoyi. By now, Didymus Mutasa knows very well that “It can’t”.
Mugabe and ZANU PF have no clue, willingness or ability to turn around the economy otherwise they would have done so many years ago. In the past, they blamed droughts notably that of 1986/87 and 1991/92. Later, when it started raining normally, they transferred the blame to FOREX. Simon Muzenda, would hardly conclude a speech without making reference to FOREX shortages to the extent of believing that it was even causing poor rainy seasons!
Later, the child to blame was ESAP (called Isaka by some rural elders). This was the time for everybody to tighten their belts when “chefs” loosened theirs. After ESAP, it was sanctions and recently Gamatox. We have literally lost count of the litany of excuses. Interestingly, Mugabe did not mention sanctions, Morgan Tsvangirai, Tony Blair, George Bush or John Howard during his boring address. Either he has forgotten these traditional “enemies” or he is slowly realising the mantra is getting too soporific. I once argued that Zanu PF’s bag of lies was running empty. Going by Mugabe’s recent performance, the bag is no longer there. Ngoma yacho haichina mudzani!
Rather than wasting time mourning job losses, lack of agricultural and mining productivity etcetera, Mugabe should have reported on ZimAsset progress to date, especially with regards to what percentage of the two million promised jobs have been created so far. He should have seized on the opportunity to anoint his successor and announce the timetable for handover and exit. Turning State House into a retirement home has been the worst experiment for Zimbabwe.
If Mugabe’s hollow State of the Nation Address won’t galvanize us into some kind of pre-emptive action, then we are an extremely tolerant nation or there is something terribly wrong with us Zimbabweans. Our crisis will not go away on its own without practical and collective intervention by all progressive forces. Neither will the solution come from our neighbours.
The time to act is now.
Moses Chamboko is a pro-democracy activist and interim Secretary General for Zimbabweans United for Democracy (ZUNDE). You may visit ZUNDE at www.zunde.org or email email@example.com