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us fresh ideas, not insults
Hove, Mail and Guardian (SA)
July 19, 2013
Thursday afternoon, in a country far from home. My friend, the Gambian,
has a serious matter to discuss with me. It’s a never ending
discussion about who is the most insulting president on the African
continent. I produce evidence in support fo my own president, Robert
Mugabe. My friend also has evidence in support of his president,
It is election
time in Zimbabwe, I tell my friend. My president is not short
of insults as he campaigns for votes.
are thirsty for new ideas from Mugabe, he seems totally unaware
of the needs of his audiences. The recent launch of his party manifesto
was a typical example of a man who has lost touch with what communication
is all about. His audience just wanted to hear what he was going
to do differently this time around.
years along the road of power, Mugabe’s election campaign
language has remained mired in vile words: war, battle, conquer,
crushing the enemies and other unmentionables. He seems to know
o other language. Having run out of new ideas, the thrust of Mugabe’s
political campaigns has noting to do with new national programmes.
law forbids citizens from insulting the president, the law does
not stop him from insulting others. And the line between criticising
and insulting is extremely narrow, judging by the over enthusiasm
of those employed to get angry on his behalf: police and secret
So, dozens of
civilians have been arrested and dragged before the courts for the
mildest rebukes of the president’s behaviour. The insults
range from joking about His Excellency who is not so excellent to
serious critical remarks about the president’s responsibility
in running the country’s economy and its socio-cultural fabric.
Mugabe can easily
be rated as one of the most foul-mouthed presidents in the world.
My Gambian friend thinks that no one can be more vulgar than Jamer.
The military man is reputed to give hour-long broadcasts of pure
venom and vulgarity on national days. Regardless of my friend’s
arguments, I believe Mugabe still tops the list.
As an elderly
man one would expect form him a certain restraint that signifies
the wisdom that comes with age and experience.
is cornered politically he does not argue his case rationally. He
verbally abuses those he suspects of having put him in that dirty
Sadly, he is
completely oblivious to the fact that often times he is the one
who puts himself in such unenviable positions.
of vile vocabulary never seem to run dry.
In recent past
weeks he called South African diplomat Lindiwe Zulu an ordinary,
stupid and idiotic street woman for insisting that Mugabe should
respect and honour what was agreed upon with the opposition.
As the supreme
leader of the nation, he believes he is above, even his own word.
It angered him to be on the receiving end of instructions on how
to behave from a woman, and a young one at that. So, he insulted
her while the issues she addressed remain unattended.
He is like a
man who wasted all his bullets shooting guinea fowl while elephants
are just behind the hill, as the Shona say.
woman” in Shona actually translates to prostitute. Mugabe
definitely knows his insinuation.
He is thoroughly
averse to engaging with women on an equal basis. As the eternal
patriarch, he seems to think a woman’s task is simply to be
a wife and child-producing machine. He has threatened lesbians with
jail if they don’t impregnate each other.
All Mugabe knows
about love relationships is that they should be aimed at producing
children with urgency. By this logic, it would seem couples who
are past child-bearing or who are not gifted with children should
the issue of homosexuality as an African socio-historical reality,
he goes off at a tangent to call it an European import. Show me
a society without homosexuality. Every society sometimes chooses
to hide behind masks with the illusion of being invisible.
attitudes towards women are clearly observable in Mugabe’s
party structures and activities. The women wings has the sole purpose
of entertaining the main wing, which is dominated by powerful men.
Women are for the leisure of men. They dress up in fabrics decorated
with Mugabe’s images at the front and back.
The men wear
imported European suits to party congress without any sense of guilt
for dressing women so shamefully.
There is a pattern
to Mugabe’s aversion to women diplomats. Only a few years
ago he called United States assistant secretary of state Jendayi
Fraser a prostitute. Fraser had expressed deep displeasure and sadness
at Mugabe’s human rights record.
never been one of Mugabe’s attributes. Condoleezza Rice, the
former US secretary of state, the country’s highest-ranking
diplomat, also received her share of Mugabe’s vulgarity. He
boldly called her “that slave girl”, meaning she sheepishly
and obediently serves her white master without thinking.
It is the most
painfully vulgar insult one can inflict on a black American. It
evokes floods of the sadness of historical pain inflicted on the
former slaves by both black Africans rulers and white slave traders.
I have met African
Americans who actually hate the Africans who remained on the continent,
including me. We sold them, they curse, and rightly so because we
have a historical responsibility for the crimes of our ancestors.
statements show a total lack of awareness of the wrongs of history
as well as the present responsibilities on African leaders. His
statements denigrate all blacks who suffered the history of slavery.
His sensitivity will astound even an infant of the history of black
It is worse
when first shopper Grace Mugabe joins the fray, as she did last
week with crudities such as calling Morgan Tsvangirai “ugly”,
as if the elections were a beauty contest.
While the boulders
of poverty crush the people, the president is busy inventing new
In this crucial
election we want new ideas and proposals to take the country forward.
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