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Mugabe holding Zimbabwe back

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As sadly predictable, President Robert Mugabe, in his address at the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York on Thursday, ranted against Western countries for their alleged sins of commission such as maintaining sanctions against his government.

NewsDay Editorial

While other leaders from across the political spectrum addressed relevant burning issues in detail such as, among others, terrorism and growing income inequality globally, calling for the resetting of the global economy, Mugabe spoke like a Cold War warrior from another era.

His preoccupation with the alleged victimisation of his government is increasingly having fewer and fewer takers.

It sounds oddly out of place.

It sounds oddly discordant.

Mugabe’s bloated delegation of over 100 did not help his cause either.

Year in, year out, he takes a dig at the West, but to what end? No other regional leader has been known to fulminate like that on the international stage. Clearly, regional leaders don’t go out of their way to pick fights.

Moreover, Zimbabwe has not been singled out for victimisation as the government has clearly breached universal norms like the upholding of human rights and brazenly defaulted on its financial obligations to international lenders. So, playing the victim card loudly is not helpful at all.

Whatever the West’s sins of commission or omission, both sides must meet somewhere in the middle because Mugabe himself is not stainless.

Back home, he is pushing his own wife to the political heights and not tolerating any challenge or resistance to that.

Is that the conduct of a practicing democrat? He cannot masquerade as a change agent. Zimbabweans are not fooled. Neither is the world fooled. All this hypocrisy does is to embarrass the nation to no end.

Again, the world cannot help but notice Mugabe’s age. At 90, he was clearly the oldest leader to address the UN General Assembly. CNN pointedly mentioned that he is now into his seventh term in office. His age now detracts from everything he says.

Is Mugabe the right person to call for a new world order while refusing to embrace change at home? It is so glaring.

So, Mugabe should be the last person to call for change on the global stage. He does not have the moral authority to do so. But it’s sad that he does not see this glaring contradiction. He thinks everybody is out of step except himself.

As it stands, Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa, with his newly-found diplomatic skills, could do a world of good for Zimbabwe on the international stage if he is shifted to the Foreign Affairs ministry instead of the taciturn incumbent, Simbarashe Mumbengegwi.

The country can ill-afford to have an uncommunicative, unresponsive, tight-lipped, abrupt and secretive character as Foreign Affairs minister, particularly in these times where Zimbabwe needs to engage from the East to the West, from the North to the South.

But Mugabe — as the angry, rancorous face of Zimbabwe for the past 34 years — is holding the country back.

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