By Newsday Editorial

President Robert Mugabe was on Monday night at it again at the United Nations General Assembly, giving a speech on a tangent to what most Zimbabweans want to hear, in yet another example of his fading yesteryear oratory prowess.

Where Mugabe had in the past spoken to huge applause from delegates, video footage shows that he got light praise and derisory laughter from the audience, an apparent testimony of his falling and faltering stock on the global stage.

Instead of a speech showing the direction of African diplomacy and foreign policy, Mugabe felt compelled to speak on sexuality, a subject that is not only irrelevant to the summit that he was attending, it was also totally unnecessary and uncalled for.

Mugabe should have used the UN speech to rally the world to the urgent needs that Africa is faced with and how leaders of developed countries could help.

Right now Zimbabwe and Southern Africa are faced with crippling power crises and this should have been at the uppermost of Mugabe’s agenda, rather than the tired issue of gays in Africa.


What Mugabe did with his UN speech was to show a complete disregard for leadership and initiative.

In the midst of the power crisis Zimbabwe finds itself in, had Mugabe spoken about partnerships with the West in bringing electricity to Zimbabweans, then he would have won some supporters back home, but he squandered the chance.


Mugabe’s failure to appreciate the stage he was standing on and give leadership direction is the reason his bureaucrats come up with harebrained ideas, like banning geysers, to solve the power crisis.

Opposition parties and the media have been spot-on in diagnosing the problems in Zimbabwe; clearly we have a leadership crisis and the buck stops with Mugabe.

The President has developed an astonishing propensity to focus on trivia and it is no wonder the ruling party and the country are in mess.

Recently, he gave the least inspiring and an underwhelming State of the Nation Address and capped this with the blunder of the year by reading the wrong speech at the opening of Parliament.

Where again most Zimbabweans thought Mugabe would zero in on the economy, he chose to focus on some unknown and previously unheard of skulls being kept in the United Kingdom.

It is imperative that Mugabe speaks of culture and tradition, but he should also be aware of what he should focus on and what is expected of him as a leader. Zimbabweans are hungry, the country is in an economic cesspit. Yet, Mugabe is wasting opportunities reserved only for the few. We urge him to use every opportunity he gets to espouse vision, leadership and direction, rather than resort to tired clichés and rhetoric.

If Mugabe absolutely feels compelled to speak about gays, then he should reserve such ramblings to his party and private functions, rather than at the international fora, where he is expected to speak for Africa and Zimbabwe.

We have far too many problems and dreams for the future for the President to be besotted with gays.

Zimbabweans need hope and leadership not pseudo-pan Africanism and bigotry.


This opinion article first appeared on Zimbabwe’s Newsday

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