24 May 2018

Zimbabwe: British Hypocrisy Writ Large - Business Trumps Democracy

opinion

"So, since we left the Commonwealth because we had a quarrel with others about our rather unusual hobby of violating human rights, one wonders how much of that has changed to warrant readmission. "

HAS someone checked on former president Robert Mugabe yet? The way President Emmerson Mnangagwa is cosying up to the Brits, one has to check on Bob's pulse.

The man must have spilled his English tea at news that Mnangagwa has expressed interest in re-joining the Commonwealth. What betrayal!

When we quit the Commonwealth, pulling the finger at everyone as we made our grand exit, we told them we would never return until all of them came to their senses and begged us to come back.

Didymus Mutasa at the time said: "For us, this is like an escape from hell". We didn't need them. They needed us.

Muckraker and those of a particular age will recall a frothing Mugabe describing the Commonwealth as an "Animal Farm, where some members are more equal than others".

Of course, at the base of the entire tiff was Mugabe's rather weird hobbies, which included, but were not limited to, killing, casually breaking people's limbs for sport, and grabbing people's property.

So when some in the Commonwealth suspended Zimbabwe from the Club, Mugabe did what any brat would do when other kids say "we don't want to play with you anymore". He simply told them, in his own twist of Graucho Marx, that "I refuse to join any club that won't take me as a member".

Just as he did as a kid, he threw a tantrum and took his cattle to herd them elsewhere, alone.

Zimbabwe was a proud African country, in fact, the last fortress of all things pan-African, and we would no longer be part of this little club of fawning British colonies. This was around the time we started hearing the "Zimbabwe will never be a colony again" mantra.

Now, 15 years later, look at Zimbabwe. Mnangagwa is getting all cosy with the Brits and even wants us to return into the arms of our former colonial master. Spare a thought for Mugabe.

Hypocrites

So, since we left the Commonwealth because we had a quarrel with others about our rather unusual hobby of violating human rights, one wonders how much of that has changed to warrant readmission.

The answer? Nothing. Zanu PF, despite Mnangagwa's rhetoric and public relations, still remains every bit the same animal that was suspended from the Club for bad behaviour.

But, to Zimbabwe's advantage, the other thing that has also not changed is the hypocrisy of the Brits.

Just as they were hypocritical in the Mugabe years by suspending Mugabe, while tolerating other equally dodgy dictators, the Brits are just as hypocritical now.

Soon, we will be told by the Brits that Zimbabwe can be readmitted only after holding free and fair elections and observing democracy. As if this requirement for membership was actually ever uniformly applied. It's just that, as opposed to the Mugabe years, we are now on the good side of Western hypocrisy.

One Australian politician once called the Commonwealth "the most useless international institution to which any senior political leader must commit time and energy".

But there must be a lot of rubbing of hands in the corridors of Munhumutapa Building at the prospect of readmission. All those CHOGM summits to attend. All those per diems and allowances to be spent. Who said CHOGM stands for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings? The more accurate term is "cheap holidays on government money".

Technical glitch?

This thing called technology is not a friend of the not-so-clever ones. In Kenya, someone pressed the wrong button on their phone and showed things that had only been whispered in the cheap bars.

Former Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo recorded himself, so he claims, chatting to Patrick Zhuwao about all the goings-on in the National Patriotic Front (NPF), that organisation that claims to be a party, but is really a circus, overstaffed in the clown department.

Combine an accidental recording and two gossips of national renown, and you have everyone's dirty little secrets thrown on the streets, literally.

We all know Moyo and Zhuwao are the political equivalent of your average Harare slay queen; very loud, but with very little actual "slayage" to back it up.

The sort that sit on the edges of the club VIP section sharing a half-empty booze bottle all night, posting selfies on Instagram to fool naïve followers. That has always been the story of these two; an overrated duo that takes itself far too seriously.

Now we know a few things; a powerful female they call "Muchembere" poured money into the project and it went missing and there are T-shirts that were paid for but never delivered. We also now know Moyo is still living with his admirably patient in-laws in Kenya.

However, most worrying was the sight of these two chaps jumping over potholes and footing it for what seemed to be 100 kilometre to a restaurant. What a fall from grace for types that were used to hailing a chauffeur and a 4X4 Land Cruiser just to get from their desks to the bathroom.

Hollywood script

Speaking of powerful people footing it, we read last weekend a completely new version of Mnangagwa's heroic escape from Zimbabwe into Mozambique last November.

Journalists in Zimbabwe must hang their heads in shame for not having adequately described our leader's epic, superhuman trek into Mozambique. Why underreport his bravery like this?

Quoting Mnangagwa's son, Emmerson Jr, the Sunday Times of UK had an article in which we were told, "for the first time", the story of the president's escape after his sacking on November 6 last year.

We heard of how one of the President's sons put himself in the line of fire, thrusting a border guard's AK47 against his chest, to protect his father. Give that boy a medal of honour. And, once the President and his son had escaped into the night, he somehow located a cave that he had once used in the war, some 40 years ago. What a magical feat that was, especially because Mnangagwa never actually went to the front during the war.

By the time readers reached the end of the tale, which included even a rogue Renamo fighter, a landmine field and hunting dogs, they wondered why such creative talent is going to waste. And to think we have such talent in the First Family while the ZBC, which advertised for creative writers for its dramas just recently, is battling to find such gifted storytellers.

Mnangagwa is no less creative himself. He told supporters that the US$100 million being loaned to local companies by the CDC Group of UK was meant to ease cash shortages.

Cremora gone too soon before bootlicking

Just a week after Muckraker pleaded with President Emmerson Mnangagwa to allow former Zanu PF national commissar Webster Shamu to return to the feeding trough, seeing as he has suffered enough, the President went and summarily dismissed him. No wonder why people say Mnangagwa is ruthless.

The man had not even had the chance yet to bootlick Mnangagwa properly, and he gets fired. Nobody can accuse Shamu of not trying though. In December, after a visit to Chinhoyi University by Mnangagwa, Shamu's Mashonaland West province donated 14 bulls and a heifer to the President, who was still new in office then. And now this is how Mnangagwa repays him? Shamu named Mugabe after a coffee creamer and virtually renounced his parents for Mugabe, and still lost his job. He wormed his way back, and donated 15 head of cattle, but once again lost his job. What more does a man have to do in this country? So now he has to start over again from the bottom? While others eat?

Commiserations to the people of Mashonaland West, who must be grief stricken at news of the latest misfortune to hit Cde Charles Ndlovu, their gallant son and one of the nation's most accomplished praise singers. Now Minister of State for Masvingo Province Josaya Hungwe stands alone, with no competition.

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