Whether out of docility or indifference, Zimbabweans have accepted that their leader, President Robert Mugabe, receives treatment in Singapore and if his government had any clue what the people think, they would not have thought of that Indian World Culture Festival ruse to cloak the President’s latest trip.
Instead, Mugabe’s aides thought they could spin the story and withhold the truth from Zimbabweans, but in the age of social media, their folly has been exposed and they should hang their heads in shame.
It was first claimed that Mugabe was on his way to India to attend a culture festival and a simple Google search revealed who was attending and it showed that Mugabe really had no business there.
Then the aides tried to make Zimbabweans believe that Mugabe was entrenching diplomatic ties with the Asian country, but they should also have realised that even Indian President Pranab Mukherjee was skipping the do. Imagine attending a party that even the host is not going to — it must be embarrassing.
Mugabe’s spokesman George Charamba then would have us believe that his boss was the guest of honour and had cancelled his attendance there due to a security breach, but again a search on the organisers’ website shows that the Zimbabwean leader is not even mentioned once, not even in passing.
While Charamba was quoted in State media insinuating that Mugabe was in India, Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo was fighting another battle back home, intimating that Mugabe may not have made it to the Asian country after all.
What this betrays is that not only does the left hand not know what the right hand is doing, it shows that the left hand absolutely has no clue of the existence of the right hand. Otherwise how else could we explain such blundering and bungling?
Imagine if the government was honest and said Mugabe had taken a few days off to visit Singapore — that way they would have been ahead of the narrative rather than this case where they are behind it and have to fight a raging flame with little more than leaking buckets.
There would have been grumbles about Mugabe seeking treatment in a foreign country rather than in his own, but those would not have been as embarrassing as the farcical Indian trip.
Mugabe and his aides seem to exist in an era where there was one-way flow of communication — from the top to the bottom, with a long line of gatekeepers along the way — but they must realise that the world has moved on and with social media and the Internet, half-truths and misinformation is easy to detect.
Next time Mugabe has a trip, Charamba and other bureaucrats are better advised to be honest about these trips, because once Zimbabweans detect a hint of dishonesty, they are bound to ask questions and this will leave substantial egg on the collective face of the authorities.