Tanonoka Joseph Whande
Monday 31 March 2014
The past few weeks saw a brewing media frenzy over Robert Mugabe’s sanction busting visit to Belgium for the fourth edition of the over-rated EU-Africa meeting which starts in Brussels the day after tomorrow.
The Europeans want to talk to our murdering presidents about “Investing in People, Prosperity and Peace”, three topics that African leaders do not want to hear about.
I wish the Europeans plenty of luck!
Such meetings have always been welcome to African statesmen who always take embarrassing numbers of people with them to the chagrin of the sponsors who have to pay for the air tickets and accommodation.
Foreign trips are always welcome by African presidents, let alone government employees who get lucky enough to be included on such trips yet play no role in the goings-on.
Soon after independence, Mugabe travelled so frequently that Zimbabweans referred to him as Vasco da Gama, after the famed 15th century Portuguese navigator who led an expedition that opened the sea route to India.
Mugabe seemed to be leaving more than he was arriving back home.
African leaders have always mistaken these protocol gatherings and became addicted to them more for personal enjoyment than for meaningful forays to aggressively fight for a piece of the pie on behalf of their countries.
Unfortunately, in cases when they got something, either in cash or kind, very little of that got to the people. Some of that money did not even leave Europe but was put into personal bank accounts for the exclusive use by a president and his harem.
The trend continues today.
Mugabe was once a darling of the Europeans; we know that much too well. And he enjoyed the status they gave him. They did so because they had a lot to lose in Zimbabwe.
Mugabe then went on a rampage and annoyed those same people who were giving him the money and accolades. It was not a divorce based on ideology, not at all.
Mugabe started doing things that annoyed not only his white benefactors but his citizens back home, conveniently giving the Europeans and westerners an excuse to isolate him.
They accused him of human rights abuses, economic mismanagement and rigging elections then imposed targeted sanctions on him and his inner circle, including Mugabe’s wife, Grace.
Last year, the United States and the European Union announced two summits, slated for Washington and Brussels, at which they invited African leaders.
The Americans made it clear on the outset that Mugabe was not invited while the EU waited until the last moment. When they did come out in the open, that sissy organisation called the African Union elected Mugabe First Vice Chair of what they call Executive Council. This cheap move made Mugabe more of a representative of Africa than of Zimbabwe, a stupid contradiction that makes no sense since individual African leaders are invited on behalf of their countries.
In the past, Mugabe has disrupted international gatherings, including the previous EU-Africa Summit and caused African countries to boycott the meeting if Mugabe was not invited.
This year, Mugabe tried again to squeeze through to places where he is not welcome and got an invitation by virtue of his AU portfolio. His wife, however, was not issued a visa and Mugabe tried to incite other African countries not to attend if his wife was not allowed to come along.
Mugabe pushed his fellow leaders to stupid extremes. Grace Mugabe is nothing to Zimbabwe and less so to Africa. It would be folly for any African country to refuse a chance to get aid for their people because of Grace Mugabe. She is just a president’s wife who, unfortunately, gets herself in the media for wrong and selfish reasons.
Making matters worse is the simple fact that Mugabe has nothing to offer Zimbabwe, let alone Africa.
Even if he were to stay awake for a few minutes, what is it about Africa that he would represent? People do not eat rhetoric.
I applaud the EU for standing their ground and not to join this silly circus like they were compelled to do last time.
Mugabe must stay home and attend to pressing issues where civil servants need to get paid, where stranded flood victims need his attention, where the economy is crumbling faster than cookies in water, where companies are closing on a daily basis and where human rights are being sacrificed in support of tyranny.
Grace, on her part, should stay home and be the good wife expected of First Ladies. She has the opportunity to show compassion for our homeless children, abused girl children, street kids and orphans instead of going on senseless shopping sprees.
Grace Mugabe needs to grow up just a little bit more.
She had an opportunity to make something of herself and impact not only Zimbabwe but Africa. Yes, she could have done that because she had the chance and means to make a difference.
But like a starving animal in a vegetable garden, she uprooted all in her path. Tingagodini benzi rapiwa pembe?
Mugabe’s history is a tragedy. The man had worked hard to get to the leadership of the party because there were many people who were far much better than him in both ability and education but he soiled it all to become an embarrassment not only to Zimbabwe but to Africa.
The era of slogans is gone. We have to compete and produce like everybody else. Economic policies that guide other nations bind us as well. We are part of a global market and no chimurenga of any kind will see us going far if we do not play by the rules.
Yet it is not difficult to play by the rules and still maintain our so much desired sovereignty. We must get to our feet first.
There are calls in some quarters that Mugabe should reshuffle his cabinet for the country to see some sort of revival.
I do not agree with that because it is not necessary.
The heart of the matter is that the presidency itself has to be reshuffled. We cannot have a weak and short-sighted man pick leaders anymore. To make it worse, it appears as though all ZANU-PF people are struck by the same disease and I see no one in that party who could possibly selflessly turn around the fortunes of our country without using the same old tactics that have destroyed our country over the decades.
Unfortunately for us, the opposition seems to be in a worse situation. Where are they? What are they doing? Are they aware that being in opposition is as much of a responsibility as being in government?
This presents us with another quagmire. We do not seem to have a plausible alternative to ZANU-PF. The MDC has to work thrice as hard as before to get me to listen to them again.
I cannot understand why all our politicians have no respect for the people and seem to think that Zimbabweans do not know what they want for themselves and their country.
I am holding my breath that South Africa is not going to kick out all those Zimbabweans back home by force because that is a dangerous constituency for ZANU-PF.
All people everywhere in the world must live with hope and expectation. Their willingness to work and care for themselves and their families is fundamental.
The absence of hope is a dangerous ingredient because then, people have nothing to lose and none is more dangerous than one who has nothing to lose.
I am Tanonoka Joseph Whande and that, my fellow Zimbabweans, is the way it is today, Monday, March 31st, 2014.
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