Now Daily Analysis
If there was any doubt about president Robert Mugabe’s poor state of health and inability to conduct the affairs of state, it would have been dispelled by the televised celebrations and events surrounding his 93rd birthday. It became apparent that Mugabe is not only a danger to his much-hated ‘detractors’ but has become a liability even to his most loyal supporters.
On Tuesday, Mugabe attended an office party hosted by his deputy, Emmerson Mnangagwa. In a civilized environment, few would have objected to a hard-working president taking a few minutes off his ‘busy schedule’ to enjoy cake and tea at the office with his staff. Such an event would have been confined to diplomatic niceties, short speeches and gifts.
Not in Mugabe’s Zimbabwe. The dictator took the occasion of the office party and the attendant television cameras to attack Mnangagwa, his deputy and leader of the so-called Lacoste faction of Zanu PF, bludgeoning foreign investors for ‘looting’ Zimbabwe’s resources and generally being combative.
The military generals, cabinet ministers and hangers on present just stared at Mugabe like zombies witnessing an alien invasion from Mars. You could see the fear on their sombre faces, hoping that he would not say or do something totally embarrassing. After all, it is these same Zanu PF hangers who are telling the nation that Mugabe is “fit as a fiddle” and can endure another gruelling election campaign in 2018 and rule until he is 100.
It took Mnangagwa’s evident charm and visibly contrived humility to break the ice.
“We in the office of the president feel priviledged to serve under you, liberation icon, pan Africanist, blah, blah, blah,” guffawed Mnangagwa, ensuring that the huge chocolate cake was finally eaten, the whiskey drunk and a good time was had by all.
Heartless Mugabe Feasts amid Cyclone Dineo Devastation
If anyone was unsure about where Mugabe’s priorities lie, they would have been answered forcefully by the despot’s decision to hold a $9 million birthday feast at a time when thousands of Zimbabweans have been displaced and made homeless by Cyclone Dineo. The devastation in which scores of lives were lost has not been fully accounted for because the president and his top officials were busy all week eating and drinking. The minister of local government Saviour Kasukuwere, under whose purview the Civil Protection Unit in charge of disaster relief falls, was too busy on Thursday – a government work day – supervising Zanu PF party elections in Masvingo and firing the MDC-T mayor of Gweru Hamutendi Kombayi. Transport minister, Joram Gumbo, who should have been out there taking practical action to alleviate the plight of cyclone victims cut off by the destruction of roads and bridges, was equally busy with the party elections.
A caring leader would have forgone the birthday celebrations and visited the cyclone victims with aid. Not Mugabe. For starters, he is too old and too weak to understand what is going on. And then, as everyone now knows, Mugabe is so cruel that he doesn’t care what happens, especially in the southern provinces where people do not vote for him at elections because of his record of political murder and mayhem there.
The dictator ordered all government departments to donate huge amounts to his birthday in violation of their mandate. Parastatals which are failing to pay their workers or operate profitably were forced to splash millions on the birthday celebrations which were being supervised by the Zanu PF youth league. Youth league secretary Kudzai Chipanga insulted the public when he announced that the youths would hold a ‘carnival’ in Bulawayo, near Tsholotsho, scene of some of the worst damage from the cyclone, and also hold a gala dinner at the Bulawayo Rainbow hotel.
“We are going to enjoy,” Chipanga gushed on state television, oblivious of the fact that just down the road from the Rhodes Matopos national park where the main celebrations were to be held, whole families were sheltering under trees in driving rain because the government had not provided any emergency relief to them. Mugabe was waiting for Western countries to provide aid to the cyclone victims.
This whole episode proved that it is a lie that this rotten government cannot provide for the needs of its people. Seriously, how can you ask another sovereign country to use the taxes of their hardworking people to provide for Cyclone Dineo victims while we use all our money to buy cakes and alcohol for one man’s birthday party? It just shows how stupid the people running our government are and strengthens the argument that Mugabe should leave office immediately and not in 2018. He has failed the people and proved he is incapable of solving simple problems, so why should we allow him to abuse our taxes by paying himself and his huge entourage of useless hangers on fat salaries until 2018?
I was shocked to learn that Mugabe’s people had ordered all schools to provide their buses free of charge to transport party activists to Matopos. If the schools had been asked to provide buses to ferry people marooned by flooding in Mberengwa and Beitbridge, it would have made sense. Not to abuse the meagre funds paid by suffering parents for Zanu PF militiamen and women to go and get drunk in Bulawayo.
Tsvangirai Unusually Quiet
- Heydays: Tsvangirai (centre), injured in 2007 after confronting Mugabe forces on the streets.
Why is Movement for Democratic Change-Tsvangirai (MDC-T) leader Morgan Tsvangirai remaining quiet in the face of such troubles in Zimbabwe? He used to be vocal. Most people expected him to send a birthday message to Mugabe telling the despot that his time is up and he should go.
It took the Democratic Alliance of South Africa and the American president Donald Trump to deliver such a message and rattle the Harare dictatorship. Where is our own opposition? Sleeping on the job, obviously.
Tsvangirai’s silence is being read as solidarity with Mugabe. That is bad, especially now when our memories of the sinister coalition government of 2009-2013 are still fresh.
Of course it’s dangerous to make any statement opposing Mugabe. But when has it ever been convenient to criticize a brutal dictator who has accounted for the deaths of millions of fellow citizens directly and indirectly through mass poverty, lawlessness, bad policies and brazen theft of state resources? What Tsvangirai and MDC-T must know is that protesting in a way which is acceptable to Mugabe will never yield the desired results. These occasional street marches and rallies where the police determine when they should start and end, what the leaders can or cannot say will never bring us the revolutionary changes required to bring Zimbabwe on the path of freedom and democracy underpinned by the rule of law.
Mr Tsvangirai and all MDC-T leaders must be reminded that it took the suffering and death of many for them just to be sitting in their air conditioned offices at Harvest House and driving Ford Rangers to parliament while living in five-star comfort. Courageous opposition leaders, sand activists like Tichaona Chiminya, Talent Mabika, Learnmore Jongwe, Patrick Nabanyama and Itai Dzamara put their personal safety and comfort second when deciding to fight for democracy in Zimbabwe and they paid the ultimate price for their commitment. Many others are in exile, enduring the indignity of struggling for survival in foreign lands.
MDC-T Lacks Democratic Agenda
It was quite embarrassing to see the MDC-T deputy president Thokozani Khupe taking to the podium in parliament to remind her party’s MPs that they should behave themselves because they were on live television. One shudders to think what these MPs do on days when there are no cameras.
What Khupe and her boss Tsvangirai should do is to sit these childish MPs down and remind them that we, the people who put them in parliament, expect them to be taking Robert Mugabe and his hoodlums to task for the sorry mess that Zimbabwe finds itself in. MPs are not street activists, although many of them have that background. MPs are the final gatekeepers and overseers in an inherently brutal system where the dictator uses the law to oppress the people.
As it stands, the greatest weakness that the MDC-T has as the largest opposition party in parliament is the lack of a clear democratic agenda. Some MPs are just promising change as a as an empty slogan but expecting more of the same misrule that we have endured since 1980. This is why on a good day many opposition legislators are fighting the factional wars of Zanu PF, trying to win favour with Zanu PF apparatchiks and perhaps a few dollars for selling out the revolution.
Mugabe is the enemy of the people. All those associated with him should equally be despised. Zanu PF’s repressive legislative agenda should be disrupted by knowledgeable interventions, not mob noise and unnecessary, time-wasting points-of-order which play into the hands of the enemy. There is no need to be cosy with Zanu PF. Nelson Chamisa, for example has lost the confidence of MDC-T members by allowing himself to get too close to vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa. Some say they are related, but in politics, you have to forgo personal relations and friendships for the sake of the people you lead, or give way for those who can.
One only has to be reminded of the purposefulness of the first MDC MPs to go to parliament in 2000. David Coltart, Welshman Ncube and Learnmore Jongwe argued persuasively in favour of US sanctions against Mugabe and the international community had to respond. It has to come from us. I doubt that the current crop of MPs could have put together such a formidable resistance and convincing case for international action against a man who was at that time untouchable. Mugabe was leading a cohesive killing machine responsible for the deaths of many opposition supporters under the guise of the land reform programme. Jongwe paid the ultimate price, but that is just the kind of sacrifice a struggle of this nature requires. Those who are lily livered, confused about what needs to be done or are into it for money should never be allowed to enter the hallowed halls of parliament. Opposition voters are well advised to vet their candidates for both parliamentary and municipal elections very thoroughly at the next election and get rid of the riff raff early on.
Some of our legislators are just plain ignorant. There is no excuse for ignorance in the information age. You wonder what these leaders use their smartphones for. Sharing porn or showing their latest acquisitions of wigs and fake nails in WhatsApp and Facebook groups? Or sending messages to girlfriends and boyfriends, happy when it records “sent from my I-Phone”? I’m not saying our MPs should have strings of useless degrees from our poorly resourced state universities, which are mostly centres of Zanu PF indoctrination and recruitment grounds for Mugabe’s private army, the Central Intelligence Organization. A diligent MP who reads and consults experts before opening his or her mouth in parliament is all we need. For example if the MPs just read the auditor-general’s very detailed reports which are availed to them every year, they would have enough ammunition to confront this dictatorship on an informed basis and actually do their job of holding the executive to account.
We have no problem with political parties appointing women to fill the proportional representation parliamentary seats. Perhaps we needed that sort of affirmative action considering the unfair campaign environment women face out there. However, this should have been the opportunity to appoint technocrats and experts such as teachers, lawyers and journalists who have proved their mettle in the women’s movement but are unable or unwilling to go through the rough and tumble of party politics. As it is, many P/R MPs are appointed on the basis of loyalty to certain party leaders or reward for “services rendered”, which defeats the whole purpose of having unelected representatives.
However, having said all that, I still find comfort in the fact that we have a few diligent, hard-working and well-researched MPs like Jessie Majome and Fani Munengami, whose interventions are always precise, concise and informative to the people in the trenches. Well done Honourable Jessie and Fani!
The MDCs missed the perfect opportunity to tell Robert Mugabe that he is tired and irrelevant and that he should retire by opposing debate in parliament on his 93rd birthday. The MDCs should have allowed the debate to proceed. Its MPs would then have found the perfect opportunity to savage the dictator for nearly four decades of misrule marked by murder, corruption and state-sponsored lawlessness. It would have added colour to the otherwise dreary Hansard.
We had a lot of pseudo-religious characters and ‘spiritual’ characters giving all sorts of predictions and good wishes to Mugabe on his birthday. Mugabe seemed pleased when his hatchet man Tazzen Mandizvidza, the ZBC editor-in-chief reminded him that a palm reader at the Harare agricultural show once told him that he would live until he was 100. He was in his 80’s then and 100 seemed far off. But at 93, hundred is only seven years away, so the ZBC pulled out another strange character from Epworth who was quick to affirm his credentials as a ‘chimurenga gospel musician’ who had composed a song aptly titled ‘Gabriel’ in praise of the dictator. Gabriel is Mugabe’s middle name, not to be confused with the arch-angel described in the book of Daniel, who fought the devil for a fortnight before delivering the promises to the expectant prophet. This Madzibaba, whose darting eyes seemed to confirm he was high on some very potent stuff from Epworth, proclaimed Mugabe was a great leader who should be allowed to live until he was 120! Considering that Mugabe wants to be life president, 27 years of the same terror appears too much for Zimbabweans.
Our rulers should read the Bible for themselves and not depend on these false prophets and fortune tellers. That way they would come across scriptures like Psalms 94: 20-23, which says: “Can wicked rulers be allied with thee, who frame mischief by statute? 21 They band together against the righteous, and condemn the righteous to death. 22 But the Lord has become my stronghold, and my God the rock of my refuge. 23 He will bring back on them their iniquity and wipe them out for their wickedness; the Lord our God will wipe them out.”
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