At what stage does a President concede failure?

Tendai Ruben Mbofana

IF I were the President of Zimbabwe — what would I be expected to do under the prevailing economic circumstances?

The country goes for an average 20 hours each day without electricity, and most urban areas enduring months or years with no tap water in their homes.

The economy is on a dizzying downward spiral — with the official exchange rate at $1 900 to US$1, while the inflation rate reportedly headed north at 700% (although other estimates place this at well over 1 000%).

I will not even bother to talk about the “real” exchange rate — being the parallel market which is now galloping towards $4 000 to the greenback.

It makes the “sabotage” claim by the Zimbabwe regime outrageous and laughable — since the government’s own official exchange rate is not market driven.

Are those in power, as peddle their sabotage story, seriously trying to tell the nation that it is only the parallel market that is unacceptable — but the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s outrageous $1 900 is normal?

Honestly, from which planet did these people fall?

Medical facilities have become death traps — lacking radiotherapy machines and chemotherapy treatment for cancer patients — or even the most basics, such as of painkillers, antibiotics or surgical tools.

What would I be expected to do as the presiding officer over such an embarrassing mess? Would the most logical thing not be to resign, forthwith?

Surely, who, in their right mind, would stubbornly stay on — or seek another term in office — after presiding over such monumental failure?

Yet, that is exactly what we are witnessing transpiring in our country  in utter disbelief and horror.

Honestly, for what reason does President Emmerson Mnangagwa feel that he has done a brilliant job — despite the obvious mayhem, chaos and disaster being observed all across the country?

Why would he be so convinced that such shocking economic statistics is the result of commendable work, deserving another five years in power?

Yet, in other countries we have seen leaders leaving office for much less ruin.

Did British Prime Minister Boris Johnson not vacate 10 Downing Street on June 7, 2022  due to several parties held in his office during strict COVID-19 lockdowns — which he was accused of wilfully violating?

His successor, Liz Truss, did not stay long at the same address — after her Finance minister Kwasi Kwarteng promised a massive slashing of taxes for the highest earners and biggest corporations — triggering the greatest drop in the British pound’s value in a long time.

Let me hasten to mention that the British pound’s fall was about 5%.

This could easily be regarded as a joke when compared to the spectacular freefall of the Zimbabwe dollar —  which can drop by over 100% overnight.

Not only that, but half of the Zimbabwean population is living in extreme poverty (on less than US$1,90 a day), and more than two-thirds below the poverty datum line.

As the prices of goods skyrocket on a daily basis — moving further and further away from the reach of millions of ordinary citizens — can this ever be described as “normal”?

This, while those in the corridors of power and their cronies make all the wrong and most disgraceful headlines — and fingered in all manner of corruption and looting of national resources.

Imagine what the over US$2 billion this country is prejudiced each and every year through the smuggling of our minerals (gold, diamonds, chrome and lithium), and illicit cross-border financial flows — could do for our comatose health delivery system or educational sector.

How many power stations could have been constructed ending incessant inconveniencing and economically damaging electricity outrages. In fact, in a “normal” country the mere mention of the President’s name in dodgy dealings — as happened in the Al Jazeera undercover investigative documentary, Gold Mafia — would have triggered an independent inquiry into the allegations.

Yet in Zimbabwe, Mnangagwa’s name was brought up numerous times by his own ambassador-at-  large Uebert “Angel” Madzanire and his sidekick Rikki Doolan  — yet, not a single investigation has been instituted.

In the UK, a whole Scotland Yard probe was put in motion to look into Johnson’s alleged parties at 10 Downing Street during COVID-19 lockdowns —leading to his subsequent resignation.

Nonetheless, our own President still sees absolutely nothing amiss or to be “unnecessarily” concerned about — as he carries on as if he is doing a sterling job!

In fact, he wants to repeat the same feat for five more years!

That is why I ask: “At what stage does a President concede that he has failed and does the right thing and pass on the baton to others?”

This is not an unfair proposition at all.

In fact, one of the main reasons I love including my own personal anecdotes in my writings is to show that I practise what I preach. I never want to hold others to standards which I myself cannot abide by.

I have mentioned before that I resigned from a relatively well-paying job with a non-governmental organisation, based in Belgravia (Harare) in 2013  because I felt I was falling awfully short of expected deliverables.

Of course, back then, I still had little experience in advocacy work — as opposed to the phenomenal knowledge I now possess, gained over the years.

If there is one thing I will never do, it is to reap where I never sowed — expecting to be paid for work that was not satisfactorily done, is akin to stealing.

As a fervent Christian, my God commands: Thou shall not steal.

In fact, it goes beyond that since below par performance scuttles the broader objectives of the collective — which, subsequently, adversely affects the intended beneficiaries.

That is why I find it deplorable that a head of State would stubbornly and arrogantly remain in office — in spite of the damage to the country, and untold pain and suffering to the broader population, his warped policies are causing — all for the selfish love of power and desire for personal enrichment.

Any normal person should be able to see that what we are experiencing in Zimbabwe are unforgivable unmitigated failures — that have ruined the lives of ordinary Zimbabweans.The most logical thing is to acknowledge this undeniable fact.

The buck always stops with the leader — and no amount of fault-shifting is acceptable.

Surely, how much deeper should our country sink, before our leaders finally accept that the situation is no longer tenable?

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