Develop me :Tapiwa Gomo
SOME things are just not easy to understand. Just before Zimbabwe registered its first case of coronavirus (COVID-19), we had a whole senior government minister and Zanu PF official ranting and raving some embarrassing utterances when the world is on its knees grappling with the new pandemic.
The world is currently on a lockdown, thousands are sick and hundreds more are dying everyday due to COVID-19, something the world has not experienced before.
Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, our own Minister of Defence, the one in charge of the security of this country, was quoted on March 14 at a Zanu PF meeting in Chinhoyi saying: “Coronavirus is the work of God punishing countries that imposed sanctions on us. They are now keeping indoors. Their economies are screaming just like they did to ours. (US President Donald) Trump should know that he is not God.”
This is said when other Defence ministers elsewhere are playing crucial roles to control the spread of COVID-19.
It will not surprise that this statement sent many Zimbabweans, mainly those in the diaspora into self-isolation much earlier than required of the COVID-19. The reckless and remorseless statement did not just grab headlines, but it also threw the entire Zimbabwean nationality to the global fore, mainly because it was not uttered by a clueless citizen, but by a government official.
Abound were questions such as: “Is that how Zimbabweans view what is happening in the world with regards to the pandemic? Did Zimbabweans elect her to represent them at that level? You guys claim to be educated.
“How come you have people who think like that in your government?” For the first time, on behalf of Muchinguri-Kashiri, most people apologised, while other disassociated themselves from the statement with some further claiming she was not representing government position. Whatever the case may be, her statement was uncalled for, out of order and purveyed a mentality that may be associated with the rest of Zimbabweans.
While the whole week was awash with condemnations, rebuttals and retractions of the chaos created by our government minister, the statement reflects several underlying and disturbing issues with the mentality of the people who govern us.
First, their rhetoric and exuberant pride over having liberated the country is not paralleled by an ability to govern it. And to cover up for their failures, they have been shifting blame to everyone or anything that disagrees with them.
This is why the country is where it is today because we have a bunch of clueless leaders who have mastered the art of finding something or someone as the cause of our problems instead of addressing them. Governments are elected to address problems and not to find and fight who is causing them. This is a clear sign of lack of mental sophistication whose characterisation has been evident in both words and action.
Secondly, Muchinguri-Kashiri’s words reveal some deeper anger against the West and the United States of America whose current face is none other than Trump. It is no secret that the old time Zanu PF, including the late former President Robert Mugabe, idolise and adore the West and those who remain feel deeply deprived of their right to visit that region. As known to everyone, COVID-19 did not start in the West, but in China — a good friend of Zanu PF, and yet Muchinguri-Kashiri did not find it necessary to say the same words to China.
In addition, sanctions started during President George Bush’s time and they are targeted, which means they affect few people in or associated with the current government. During those years when they were allowed to travel to the US, their time was split between government business and shopping. Targeted sanctions have meant that New York is no longer on the list of shopping destinations and for anyone who love their fashion, this is big source of anger.
Sanctions, as an excuse for failing to run the country is lame, unscrupulous and criminal. For starters, the United States, as a sovereign country, enjoys the right to choose who to engage or disengage with and Zanu PF happens to fall within the category of those disengaged with. In addition, the late Ian Smith, the former Prime Minister of Rhodesia proved that a country can still develop its economy even under sanctions, evidence of which is a vibrant economy inherited and destroyed by Zanu PF at Independence in 1980.
The sanctions in Rhodesia were tougher than what Muchinguri-Kashiri and company are pining about. The country is in deep trouble because the people who are running it, are of the myopic view that once the US lifts sanctions, the economy will boom. They forget that the economy is built, starting with locally available resources. And of course, this will not make sense to them if they think the death of people is worth celebrating.
The third and most disturbing point is the lack of remorse. The mentality of killing or not caring about loss of lives continues to characterise those who govern us. One wonders if the war did not cause mental damage to the comrades which left them disrespectful of the sanctity of human life. It is a common trend that every difference — be it political, economic, social and sometimes romantic — has been solved by killing. That history back dates to the war of independence, the Gukurahundi massacres of the early 1980s, the brutal land grab in 2000, Murambatsvina in 2005, political violence at every election episode and the killing of civilians during protests.
And one wonders if they underwent post-war counselling.
Tapiwa Gomo is a development consultant based in Pretoria, South Africa. He writes here in his personal capacity.