‘Mr Top Russian Academic’, please come and live my life and see if you still think Zimbabwe is being misreported!

There is nothing that gets my blood boiling than someone who believes that a paltry one or so days' visit to a country - or, a trip to their local library - suddenly, transforms them into experts, who are more knowledgeable than the people who have lived in that country all their lives.

Tendai Ruben Mbofana


This is exactly how I felt after reading a news report, in which a supposed ‘top Russian academic’, Professor Vladimir Shubin, allegedly bemoaned (to the state-controlled Herald and ZBC) what he perceived as the misreporting, in international media, of the economic and political situation in Zimbabwe.

He is said to have shockingly claimed that, what was portrayed about the country was in stark contrast to the prevailing scenario on the ground.

The professor freely showered praises on “positive developments currently taking place in Zimbabwe”!

Wow! Really, Prof?

I have only a few simple questions for you.

Firstly, exactly which ‘international media’ have you been watching, listening to, or reading – because, I (as a Zimbabwean who was born, and spent most of my forty-eight years of existence, in the country) also follow ‘international media’, and what I have seen so far, is quite an accurate reflection of what we, as Zimbabweans, have endured for decades?

I do not know, but maybe the good professor, has come across news reports of a harrowing brutal civil war in Zimbabwe – in the mold of what we have been witnessing in Syria since 15 March 2011, where Russian forces have been fully-involved, thereby saving the country’s leader Bashar al-Assad from ouster.

I, personally, have not encountered such clearly misleading, and blatantly untrue, reports – which, if that were the case, would have easily supported Shubin’s assertions.

However, since I watch only credible, professional, and reliable media – what they have been highlighting about life in my country has predominantly been the absolute truth.

What the ‘international media’ exposed about Zimbabwe, are the seemingly unending cases of gross human rights abuses, brutal suppression of the opposition or any other voices of dissent, as well as unimaginable poverty afflicting the majority of Zimbabweans.

Prof Shubin, sir – with all due respect – had you been ardently and open-mindedly following events in this country (as expected of any ‘top academic’), you would have known these undeniable facts.

Do you not know that opposition leaders (and, their followers) have, of late, been subjected to horrendous barbarity, at the hands of ruling party supporters – whilst, merely trying to campaign and exercise their constitutional rights to solicit support?

I will not even go into the dark vile history of state-sponsored atrocities against innocent unarmed citizens – with the most recent being the gunning down of scores of defenceless protestors on the streets of the capital Harare in August 2018, and January 2019 (most of whom, according to the Mothlante Commission of Enquiry, were shot in the back, in cold-blood, as they fled security forces).

Please, do not let me get started on opposition, labour, and human rights activists who have been arrested mainly on spurious charges (with seldom any convictions), or reportedly been abducted (yet, met with grave indifference by authorities).

Would you want me to mention hundreds of suspected opposition supporters who have either disappeared without a trace, and savagely murdered or maimed – in addition to thousands upon thousands more being cold-heartedly butchered in the Matebeleland and Midlands provinces, simply because of their ethnicity?

Furthermore, have you not read authentic UN (United Nations) and WB (World Bank) reports detailing how over half the country’s population (7.9 million) were living in extreme poverty (earning less than USD1.90 per day), with ninety-three percent (93%) of children between six months and two years old not consuming the minimum acceptable diet, and one third being malnutritioned?

Are you seriously unaware that over seventy-two percent (72%) of Zimbabweans live below the poverty datum line (PDL)?

If you did not know all this, then, I honestly do not know what to say about your academic capabilities.

Or, am I to assume that, since a similar situation reportedly prevails in Russia – possibly, what is happening to us in Zimbabwe becomes ‘normal’?

Truly, I am clueless and dumbfounded as to what would motivate a highly-learned individual to make such clearly misinformed and disingenuous conclusions about life in Zimbabwe – and, maybe, he would care to indulge us with his research findings.

I am quite sure that, if I was also to visit a country (even war-torn Syria) in a luxurious airplane, land on an exquisite airport, then drive in a flashy car to a lash hotel for my accommodation, and possibly spend most of my few days meeting opulent top government and business leaders – I would also make the same deductions.

However, that would not be how to conduct an accurate and unbiased research – since, there would be need to meet the ordinary people, hearing what they have to say, and studying the situation in the very depths of the country.

We have lived in Zimbabwe for most of our lives, and to say that there are “positive developments currently taking place in Zimbabwe”, and that, what has been reported in ‘international media’ is a distortion of facts – after a mere few days in the country – is nothing short of spitting in the faces Zimbabweans, who have experienced over two decades of unpardonable pain and suffering.

Maybe, the good professor’s version of ‘patriotism’ means suffering in silence – at the blood-dripping hands of one’s leaders – at the same time, praising them for their ‘visionary leadership’.

Then, please, you are very free to call me ‘unpatroitic’ – because, I will never remain quiet, whilst being oppressed.

© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, author, and political commentator. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp/Call: +263715667700 / +263782283975, or Calls Only: +263788897936 / +263733399640, or email: [email protected]

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