However, when asked by those who saw them, who the white man was, whom he always traveled with – he never shied in boasted, “He is my best friend”!
I still laugh today, whenever I think of his hilarious story – which was amongst a whole host of others that my father, who was a very sociable man, was fond of telling.
Needless to say, as with everything that my father did or said, these would be cautionary tales, with profound lessons behind them.
This humourous story could not be more applicable than in today’s Zimbabwe – whose ruling elite never tires in bragging over their “all weather friendship” with such countries as China and Russia – yet, are undoubtedly more of partnerships between a horse and a rider, akin to the general hand’s “best friend”.
I could not help thinking of this when witnessing the unhealthy and clearly lopsided relationship between the Zimbabwe and Russia governments – which is undeniably strongly tilted in favor of the latter, who hold all the reins of power, whilst the former is merely a “gofer” or “horse”, out to do his master’s bidding.
One just needs to look at how Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa has never ceased repeating that tale about the US President Joe Biden piling pressure on him to condemn Russia – due to its invasion of Ukraine – as if Zimbabwe’s voice in the matter, or its opinion in the global geopolitical scheme of things, really mattered.
The US would not care less what we thought about the state of affairs on this planet – and, it is highly likely Biden does not even know who Mnangagwa is, and has forgotten where Zimbabwe is located on the world map.
I am quite certain this continued claim of US pressure – which, Mnangagwa loves boasting he resisted without mincing his words – is purely intended for the Zimbabwean audience (explaining why this is mostly said in Shona) to convince the citizenry that “Russia is our best friend”, and we have its back.
Well, as it turns out, not only is Russia out to pillage our resources, in the same deplorable manner as their Chinese counterparts – but also, their brazen war on Ukraine has made life increasingly unbearable for ordinary Zimbabweans, with the skyrocketing prices of such stable foods as bread, and cooking oil, as well as ever-rising fuel costs (whose ripple effect, inevitably, leads to the inaffordability of many products).
These two eastern European countries produce 50 percent of all the globe’s wheat, 20 percent of corn, and another 20 percent of sunflower seeds – with the African continent being dependent on more than 40 percent of its grain imports on Russia and Ukraine, spending over US$1.4 billion annually.
It is already estimated that households in Africa spent about 60 percent of their incomes on food – but, as a direct result of the Russian attack on Ukraine, we are now using up to 80 percent of already meager earnings.
Let us also not forget that, the so-called “Arab Spring” revolutions in mostly north African countries, began as a result of exorbitant bread prices, for instance in Sudan – consequently, forcing out long-term strongman Omar al-Bashir in April 2019.
Yet, the ruling elite is not standing with the suffering and burdened people of Zimbabwe, in their gravest hour of need – by, at least taking their “all weather friends” to task, both over the senseless war, and the heartless blockade on Ukraine exports of grains, such as wheat, corn, and sunflower seeds – knowing fully well that ordinary Zimbabweans are feeling the painful pinch of a conflict thousands of miles away.
In recent days, we have witnessed a number of high delegation meetings, in the capital Harare, between the two countries – nonetheless, we heard absolutely nothing in this regard, and I am quite certain, it was never raised even behind closed doors.
Where will Zimbabwe authorities get the guts to speak that way to their masters?
They would rather regurgitate the yarn about how the Harare administration has slammed the door shut in the face of US pressure, and of course, scheme on how the Russians can access our vast national resources.
It can never be queried who are the winners, and who the losers are, in this relationship between Russia and Zimbabwe – as one thing is for sure, we are not “all weather friends” by any stretch of the imagination, but simply willingly being exploited.
Even the ruling elite in Harare are not the winners, since whatever trinkets they are receving, due to these shady dealings, is small change compared to what the Russians are taking home with them – which makes our leaders nothing more than errand boys.
© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, researcher, and social commentator. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp/Call: +263715667700 / +263782283975, or Calls Only: +263788897936 / +263733399640, or email: [email protected]Post published in: Featured