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We now have to share ideas via condoms
Comment from the Financial Gazette (Zimbabwe)
March 11, 2004

If he were alive today, Sigmund Freud, who died in 1939, would have a field day analysing the paranoia apparently gripping our government.

Freud, who was born in Czechoslovakia, moved to Austria with his parents at the age of four years. After graduating from the University of Vienna Freud founded the branch of abnormal psychology known as psychoanalysis.

Psychoanalysis is defined as "a method of studying the mind and treating mental and emotional disorders based on revealing and investigating the role of the unconscious mind".

Freud would be particularly well placed to diagnose what afflicts the Harare government because he had close encounters with the aberrations of another paranoid regime in Europe 70 years ago.

Despite the fact that by this time, Freud had achieved international status, when the Nazis came to power in Germany in 1933, they burned all his books, along with those of other "enemies of the state".

Seeing imagined enemies where none exist is something our government definitely shares with Adolf Hitler's Third Reich.

We are all familiar with the delusions of persecution that have characterised the endless conspiracy theories our government has come up with in reaction to perfectly normal phenomena.

One of the regime's most outlandish claims is that some western powers planning to remove it from power have conspired to "mislead" the people of Zimbabwe into knowing that they are tired of a quarter of a century of ZANU PF tyranny and corruption and want change.

After reading 20th century clinical psychiatrist, A. Krae-pelin's definition of paranoid schizophrenia, one would be excused for thinking he was describing our rulers. Kraepelin said: "In terms of continuity, the delusions of the paranoid schizophrenic can range from a jumble of vague and contradictory suspicions to an exquisitely worked out system of imagined conspiracies."

Such aberrations were displayed last week when a story that should have induced no more than a good chuckle provoked the government into making the most extraordinary allegations against the United States, namely that the American government was trying to achieve regime change in Zimbabwe through the use of condoms! How ridiculous!

The US, as the only superpower on the globe, can surely think of better modalities if it decides to deal with Zimbabwe in that sense.

It is laughable that the government chose to react in this disproportionate and outrageous manner to a story that gave state television viewers and radio listeners a rare light moment and a welcome break from the monotony of repetitive and agitative party dogma and propaganda that masquerades as news most of the time.

The story was that the evidently clever, innovative and creative activist group, Zvakwana/Sokwa-nele, had attached its logo and the slogan "Get up, Stand up" (the pun is hilarious) to about 700 000 condoms before distributing them.

Instead of frothing at the mouth as the government' s propagandists did, they should have enjoyed a good laugh, as many weary Zimbabweans must have done.

Two years ago, I reacted with rib-cracking laughter when I read a similar story in an international magazine. That particular story was to the effect that some Moslem women, at their wits' end over how to make their calls for peace heard during Sudan's civil war, resorted to denying their husbands their conjugal rights as a campaign strategy.

I have no idea how successful these women were in driving their point home and neither do I know what impact Zvakwana/Sokwa-nele's "talking" condoms have had.

But I am certain of one thing. After doing everything in its power to deny Zimbabweans their civil liberties, the government should not cry foul when imaginative citizens try to find loopholes in its draconian laws.

Over the last few years, the state has made sustained and frenzied efforts to curtail and abridge the freedoms of speech, the press, assembly, association and the right to petition the government for the redress of grievances.

After the misnamed Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) and the apartheid-era style Public Order and Security Act (POSA) have closed all avenues of communication and peaceful protest, the state should in fact, be ashamed that the people now have to resort to sharing ideas via condoms. It should not blame non-existent conspirators for a development that underscores its abusive and iron-fisted misrule.

Moreover, the powers-that-be should ask themselves why they alone in the whole wide world should have so many enemies supposedly plotting against them all the time.

This siege mentality and the consistently unconventional reasoning patterns characterising it point to the fact that, to paraphrase Freud in layman's language, someone with an oversized ego is holding the people of this country to ransom.

As Kraepelin, quoted above, has said about the delusions of persecution of paranoid characters: "Furthermore, they often involve a grandiose expansiveness of personal worth and position. In order to have so many and such relentless enemies, one must, after all, be someone very important."

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