State of the Nation

It could be that a mini war is going on over the position of presidential successor or it might just be mischief on the part of newsmen. Joice “Teurai Ropa” Mujuru, of helicopter shooting fame, revealed at the memorial of her late husband that President Mugabe had groomed her for leadership and that she was ready to step up. While her alleged rival, Emmerson Mnangagwa, has never openly spoken about presidential aspirations, word is that he is the other possible heir.

Zanu (PF) spokesman Rugare Gumbo said Mujuru was misquoted. In the past, a lot of speakers have used the excuse of being ‘misquoted’ and in bygone days a misquote was a valid explanation. But in this age of recording devices, iPads, mobile phones and cameras one would be hard pressed to find a trained journalist who would misquote such direct words.

The man grabbing the headlines is the current president and not those eyeing his position. After the MDC withdrew its appeal, the Concourt gave the green light for Mugabe’s inauguration. Speaking at his inauguration, Mugabe stuck his tongue out at The West and, while he was at it, reminded America of its racially oppressive past. Among the VIPs was Thabo Mbeki and a Chatunga and Robert junior fiddling on his mobile phone. There were a few expressions of assent, on the faces of the VIPs, as RGM lambasted imaginary enemies. Among the guests doing the palm slapping ‘zora butter’ dance, was the lady who is largely responsible for grooming several Miss Zimbabwe pageant winners, Kiki Divaris. The security chiefs, no doubt relieved that they will not have to salute a non war veteran, sat with medals jingle jangling like chandeliers on their puffed out chests. The judges, in their wigs of impartiality, were also in attendance.

Let’s not talk about sex

Mugabe lamented the death of industry and agriculture, all of which sounds beautiful when spoken by one with oratory powers but what remains to be seen is whether plans of revival can be implemented. Then there was Bob’s ritualistic attack on homosexuals when he encouraged the younger generation to abhor the notion of same sex marriage. In a country with traffic lights falling over, roads with craters, taps that are dry, it seems ridiculous that he should find the energy for speaking against people’s sexual orientation.

At the end of proceedings, Webster Shamu invited VIPs and guests to approach to congratulate the newly inaugurated Mugabe. Before the event, there had been talk of 40 heads of state attending; only six showed up and the rest were former presidents. The question that will exercise our minds is whether the poor attendance of the African leaders is due to the short notice or it was an expression of Africa’s opinion on the polls.

Still on the presidential inauguration, rumours doing the rounds in the pubs and offices are that the multitudes were fed, not on the usual rice and chicken but on take-away chicken and chips. It is strange how, when money is needed for repairing roads or building houses for the poor, the government screams bankruptcy yet there is suddenly enough to buy boxes of chicken for over 50,000 people.

While the newly installed President was using the Breetish and Americans as his personal dart boards, Walter Mzembi and his Zambian counterpart were putting together finishing touches for the UNWTO general assembly at the Victoria Falls. As the event drew nearer, the baby faced tourism minister announced that prostitution would not be legalised during the conference. For the minister to comment on that is rather strange. It is much like a headmaster commenting on the illegality of setting fire to the classroom. It is a given. Unless there is a new law, permitting prostitution, or arson, then it is unnecessary to speak on the subject.

Dead heroes

It has been a week in which three liberation war heroes have died. Kumbirai Kangai, the man whose legacy is ruined by a massive scandal at the GMB, former NRZ general manager, Retired air force commodore Mike Karakadza and Zanu (PF) founding member, Enos Nkala, all died in the week under review.

It was at the house of Enos Nkala in Highfield that Zanu was formed. In most African cultures we are afraid to speak ill of the dead. But it is not the dead with whom I have issues. What really bothers any non-partisan Zimbabwean is how the whole subject of national heroes and the Heroes Acre itself has been held hostage for 33 years, by one party. The idea of honouring those who made significant sacrifices in the name of freedom is a noble one. But the liberation war should not be the only basis on which heroism is judged.

The British foreign secretary has said that the Zimbabwean elections should be subject to an independent audit before the results can be passed as free, fair and credible. The man who is ominously named William Hague said he was ‘extremely concerned’ that the MDC had to withdraw its Concourt petition due to concerns over the independence of the judiciary.

The United Nations World Tourism Authority general assembly, co-hosted by Zimbabwe and Zambia, officially opened on Sunday. While it is pleasing to note that this is the most attended general assembly in history, it is also saddening that we didn’t make a huge enough statement with the opening ceremony. The master of ceremonies was uninspiring, the stage on which artists performed was equally dull, the air was stiff and sombre and rather than keeping to the subject of our wonderful tourist attractions – Vumba, Matopos, Chinhoyi Caves – Robert Mugabe, it will surprise no one, veered off topic to take the usual pot-shots at ‘our detractors’. Some of the delegates could be seen wearing glum faces, with elbows on tables and their chins resting on the heels of their hands.

Sata’s sekuru

The only light moment came when Zambian president, Michael Sata, bantered with Robert Mugabe, calling him ‘Sekuru,’ (grandfather) during his address. Those stimulated by succession rumours will have noted that Joice Mujuru, just as she did at the inaguration, took to the lecturn and gave a speech, a sensible speech, without ramblings about detractors. Whether Mujuru’s moment on the podium is sign of a deliberate grooming is hard to say at this stage because Mugabe hasn’t come out and announced it.

Controversial businessman slash MP, Temba Mliswa of Zanu (PF) said the older party members have let Mugabe down because none of them have been worthy of taking over. Mliswa was critical of his party’s indigenisation campaign, bluntly saying, ‘Taking 51% of Barclays bank will not help the economy’. And then Mliswa, with 64 arrests to his name – most of them for corruption – went on to say that after his five year term in parliament he would start his own church. Head shake. Sigh.

The medical control authority of Zimbabwe is conducting clinical trials for a new cancer treatment, which is being touted as a drug that has fewer side effects. Cancer is not a laughing matter and I wouldn’t wish it even on my worst enemy. Fingers crossed that the treatment changes the lives of those who have been affected by this terrible illness. – Till next week. My pen is capped.

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