Image Credit: Zapiro
By Richard Mugobo
Most Zimbabweans love and admire President Mugabe. It is not an enduring mystery. You can call it a classic love / hate case of Stockholm syndrome. As controversial as it may sound, he has done a lot for the country and has uplifted the dignity of Zimbabweans at home and abroad. However he is the leader of a moribund class of selfish individuals and a defunct system that owes its continued survival to corruption, patronage and a largely docile citizenry.
At a time the state needs a visionary leadership capable of resuscitating the stagnant economy, the Zimbabwean president is the head of a moribund club, a clique of old school individuals, occupying different positions across all sectors. They include academics, lawyers, doctors, teachers, politicians, religious leaders, pensioners, journalists and even my uncle.
This stagnant class of leaders has been hanging around for too long and now lack vitality and vision that can carry country forward. The country’s atrophying state is directly linked to this generation, an age band which is caught in its own state of coma and stupor.
What is this moribund club? The moribund club in Zimbabwe is a collective group of people whose life parasitically rests on the continued existence of the Mugabe legacy. They are yesteryear heroes who glorify and swim in their past achievements; mistake being partisan with patriotism; are clueless about today and don’t have practical solutions for tomorrow.
A stagnant leadership is found in both the ruling party and opposition circles. In the opposition and civic organisations, they are a group of politicians and activists who have made a living out of the “Mugabe must go” mantra. Opposition activists have made the call for democratic change an exclusive cash cow, organising protests in the famous “Madhuku strategy” approach. They are career activists whose claim to political fame solely revolves around Mugabe. They secretly wish him more years in power so that they continue milking donor funds. They organise and mobilise from the country’s hotels and tourist resorts.
Is there any hope from this moribund club? This club is creatively dead, they lack the impetus to transform the economy yet they occupy the central key positions that can transform their communities and country at large.
At community grassroots level, the club is found in the form of the old headmasters at government and mission schools who still preserve colonial relics such as singing the school anthem in Latin or constantly servicing that battered AVM school bus at a huge cost, instead of buying another one. The club includes the DEOs who think their office should instil fear and trepidation, not inspiration, in the hearts and minds of the teachers.
The moribund club includes greedy politicians who appear towards elections, converting themselves into funeral parlours by their visibility at every funeral in their constituencies, only to disappear after the ballots. They too, are part of the dead brained leaders we have inherited, authority figures with a penchant to lecture us about patriotism when they suck the country dry.
They sit in parliament, doing absolutely nothing but haggle about coffee mugs inscribed “The Boss”. We have a moribund, yawningly dull parliament which can be termed Zimbabwe’s biggest bedroom, where MPs can sleep in between sessions and wake up to claim seating allowances. On rare occasions when it is lively, parliament resembles Mbare Musika, where everyone is competing to be heard but is saying absolutely nothing sensible.
The moribund club includes ministers, with protruding bellies and hare brained intellect. They are chauffer driven in the latest, top range vehicles, dine in five star “colonial” hotels; attend non- ending workshops; appear on state TV signing thousands of “memorandums of understanding” without even understanding a single word and fly in and out of the country on a monthly if not weekly basis like their President. We have morally bankrupt ministers who buy bicycles and motorbikes with funds meant for college students on industrial attachment and later claim to be African Robin Hoods.
We also have a moribund opposition, decaying at its core and lost as to its values and function. Like the economy, the opposition has been caught in a recession for the last decade or so and is on the verge of becoming obsolete. It once used to be vocal and radical movement, but has been submerged into the same corrupt mess it seeks to challenge.
The leadership belongs to the era of the 1990s struggles centred on student activism, labour movements, constitutional reform and multiparty democracy. They have gone past their sell date, nose-diving into lukewarm career activists. Opposition run local governments are the most corrupt and least efficient. Once elected, they turn into the same monster they seek to challenge.
Lastly, the print and electronic media industry in Zimbabwe resembles stagnant sewage. The sorriest predicament the country faces is a comatose forth estate, a moribund media industry full of embedded, sloppy and unethical journalism.
The recycled news from private and state media has gone past redundancy. News has become politically prostituted and polarised .
We have journalists who have an appetite to write long winding articles , full of the tired analysis that is regurgitated week in week out, without offering any positive cues for action. Most of the country’s newspapers offer predictable politicised content on a daily and weekly basis.
Can these dry bones rise? The answer is YES.
We urgently need a refreshing narrative to the Zimbabwean story, divorced from the goblins of politics.