Bob’s Day

1 03 2018

Last Wednesday was officially a public holiday; The Robert Mugabe Youth Day. Up until the soft coup last year that saw Mugabe forced to resign as Zimbabwe’s president it was his official birthday but not actually a holiday. There was inevitably an extravagant bash somewhere in the country and business’s were browbeaten/intimidated into donating cash or kind (i.e. cattle) for the party. One year there was a particularly tasteless version where a sycophant donated elephant meat. This year I got a letter from the local branch of ZANU-PF on my desk asking for cash or kind for a party for the ZANU-PF Youth Wing. It went straight into the bin. I should have kept it as in a delightful twist of irony it was addressed to “Comrade Robert” and it would have enhanced this blog.  Last week I got a phone call from the author following up on why she hadn’t heard from me or received anything. I rather brusquely told her I didn’t support ZANU-PF.

In the past I might not have been so quick to dismiss her or at least been a little more polite. As a white commercial farmer I have always been a bit of a soft target for such requests – they know we feel vulnerable and easy to squeeze for cash. I rather doubt that it would have made the slightest difference – if they’d decided to evict me then they’d have just gone ahead and done so whether or not I’d supported their celebrations. Independence Day I did usually give something, the logic being that it was a national celebration. The money was still going to a function organized by ZANU-PF and quite possibly into someone’s pocket rather than the intended purpose. I was always assured that a receipt would be given though of course there are official receipts and others and who was I to know the difference. Quite frequently there were thank you letters which did rather surprise me.

I have just been watching a clip of Trevor Noah, the South African comedian, mocking the fall of Jacob Zuma – the disgraced South African president. The fall of Zuma was in no small way a result of a fiercely independent and critical press, a robust constitution and independent judiciary. We have seen a lot more of the critical press in Zimbabwe since Emmerson Mnangagwa took power in the aforementioned soft coup in November. Whilst they have not been directly critical of him there is most certainly an atmosphere of “we can say what we want” and other politicians have been heavily criticized. When Mugabe was in power this was not the case. People were jailed for criticising or mocking him even though a decision by the Constitutional Court, the highest in the land, stated that it was not illegal. Mugabe was the law. Zimbabwe has a strong constitution though it is not always followed; the soft coup being a good example!

The Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA) is scheduled for the last week of May. In the past they have had artistes expelled from the country for mocking the government. The South African rock group Freshly Ground didn’t even make it into the airport for making video to the song “Chicken for Change” that featured a puppet version of Mugabe. I do wonder if this year we will see acts that lampoon Mugabe as Trevor Noah was doing to Jacob Zuma. Despite his destruction of the economy, a culture of kleptocracy and non-accountability he has the national airport named after him and a national holiday. What does it take to become fully disgraced?

The official portrait of President Emmerson Mnangagwa. I think they could have done better.

In the days of the Mugabe regime it was common for offices and shops to have the official portrait of the president in plain view. It was never obligatory and there was never one in the office at my nursery and no-one, not even the politically connected, ever commented. I was rather hoping someone would complain so that I could pick an argument but alas, I was disappointed. Not surprisingly these pictures were pulled down the day after Mugabe was forced to resign; often with YouTube video clips as evidence . It hasn’t taken long for a replacement poster of Mnangagwa to appear around town. The photo of the president is not bad but it seems someone forgot the national flag in the background and a very bad Photoshop version was added. I still don’t think I will be buying one.

 


Actions

Information

3 responses

18 03 2018
tuppit260

I guess that campaigning for the upcoming election will begin soon if it hasn’t already?

23 03 2018
gonexc

Well, there has been a noticeable lack of campaigning all around.

23 03 2018
tuppit260

Perhaps they don’t need to?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s




%d bloggers like this: