By Mthulisi Mathuthu
SW Radio Africa
11 April 2014
Nigeria this week summoned Zimbabwean envoy Stanley Kunjeku, to formally lodge a complaint over President Mugabe’s remarks which depicted Nigeria as a corrupt nation.
Mugabe made the comment at his 90th birthday bash, organized by the service chiefs last month. Condemning the rampant corruption in Zimbabwe Mugabe said: ‘Are we now in Nigeria where you have to reach your pocket to get anything done?’ He added: ‘We used to go to Nigeria and every time we went there we had to carry extra cash to corruptly pay for everything. You get into a plane in Nigeria and the crew keeps dilly dallying without taking off as they wait for you to pay them to take off.’
But the permanent secretary in the Nigerian ministry of foreign affairs, Martin Uhomoibhi, said Mugabe’s comment was ‘vitriolic and denigrating’ and ‘un-statesmanly on Nigeria and Nigerians in general.’
According to a report in the Nigerian Premium Times newspaper, Uhomoibhi said it was very unkind and dishonorable’ for a ‘sitting president of a brotherly country’ to make such a remark. He said the comment was ‘unfortunate’ considering that Nigeria has stood ‘shoulder to shoulder’ with Zimbabwe since independence.
Mugabe’s comments on Nigeria came just months after the government rescinded an ultimatum for foreign small businesses operators, many of whom are Nigerians, to shut up shop and hand over their entities to locals. Abuja has previously complained to Harare over the arrests of Nigerian nationals resident in Zimbabwe.
Media lecturer Dr Admore Tshuma said Nigeria was right to complain about Mugabe’s comment which he said was ‘irresponsible.’ Dr Tshuma said the remark indicates that it was time for Mugabe to retire from politics. He said: ‘These are signs and symptoms that are our President should take a rest. He is known to be irresponsible but he is now creating further problems for the country and future leaders. He is getting worse with age.’
Hate speech is Mugabe’s custom, as he routinely offends all and sundry. This week he said Europe has an ‘evil heart’ after the EU refused his wife Grace a visa to attend the recent EU-Africa Summit held in Brussels.
In 2012 Mugabe infuriated Jamaicans by saying Jamaican men were ‘drunkards who are perennially hooked on Marijuana.’ As such, Mugabe said, Zimbabweans must not go there. In 2001 he urged ZANU PF members to ‘strike fear into the heart of the white man our real enemy, make him tremble.’
A year earlier, angry with losing the urban electorate to the opposition, Mugabe had insulted urban dwellers as ‘totem less people.’ Around the same time he lashed out at the British government saying it was led by ‘gay gangsters.’
In 1995 Mugabe stunned the world when, during a speech at the Zimbabwe Book Fair, he said the gay community was ‘lower than dogs and pigs’. In 1992 Mugabe said the white commercial farmers were so ‘hard hearted you would think they were Jews.’
In hate speech Mugabe has few matches amongst his fellow African compatriots.