In a normal country, a national leader who, as did President Robert Mugabe last week, confesses to have let more than $15 billion get stolen from the country, would have immediately resigned in shame.
THE ORACLE BY TANGAI CHIPANGURA
In fact, given the magnitude of the case in point, where the country’s livelihood was so fatally compromised — where national wealth and an opportunity to totally transform the fortunes of the country was so recklessly and criminally squandered, the president should have, together with his government, resigned for gross incompetence and dereliction of duty while those directly involved, like Obert Mpofu, then minister of mines, were sent to jail.
The massive plunder at Marange was spoken about by all and sundry, including legislator Eddie Cross who was accurate with the $15 billion figures, and Tendai Biti who was then Finance minister.
In spite of this, Mugabe found nothing wrong at all to finally confirm this monumental leadership failure as he, with a straight face, sought to place blame on other people but himself.
It boggles the mind how, intelligent and well-schooled as he is supposed to be, the president could sit there posing for cameras on national television and confessing with no tinge of guilt, that he allowed money that was enough to transform the lives of the country’s poverty ridden citizens several fold, to slip through his fingers just like that.
In his words, Mugabe said the country had received less than $2 billion from the exploitation of our diamond reserves in Chiadzwa over the years, when in actual fact more than $15 billion worth of gems had been harvested.
Even if it is advanced age, the degree of Mugabe’s lack of appreciation of his culpability in this colossal heist is shocking. The man actually brags about being so brave as to be able to tell Chinese president President Xi Jinping in his face during last year’s State visit — not that Zimbabwe was being robbed big time — but simply that we were not getting our fair share of the gems from Chinese companies mining our diamonds.
And then curiously, he finds it important to assure Zimbabweans that the obnoxious activities that were taking place at Chiadzwa would not in any way affect relations between Zimbabwe and China.
“I don’t think it has affected any of our relations at all. I told President Xi Jinping that we were not getting much from the company and we didn’t like it anymore in this country,” said Mugabe. “…I told him that here in this house”.
“We have not received much from the diamond industry at all,” Mugabe said last week in an interview to mark his 92nd birthday.
“Not much by way of earnings. I don’t think we have exceeded $2 billion or so and yet we think that well over 15 or more billion dollars have been earned in that area.”
He added: “So where have our gold or carats been going — the gems and there has been quite a lot of secrecy in handling them and we have been blinded ourselves.
“That is our people who we expected to be our eyes and ears have not been able to see or hear what was going on and lots of swindling, smuggling have taken place and companies that have been mining virtually, I want to say robbed us of our wealth…..”.
Clearly, Mugabe found no fault in Mpofu, the man who was supposed to be “our eyes and ears” but “was not able to see or hear what was going on” and has retained him in his Cabinet.
After publicly confessing to this monstrosity, Mugabe then shifts in his chair before asserting his intention to remain president until he dies. He declares with solid certainty that he will tolerate no challenge at least until his party’s next congress, which takes place in 2019 when he will be 95 years old!
“Why successor, I am still there! Why do you want a successor? I am still strong enough to knock you down with my fist,” he said.
“When we went to congress in 2013 and the people said you are the candidate in 2013, I did not say I was a candidate to retire, to retire midway. I never said that! I was a candidate for the term, the term is a five-year term. Isn’t it?
“Otherwise why did I accept if I knew that I was now, infirm, limping or that I have some disease, or that I am now tired. But can you say I am now tired and unable to run a country?” he asked.
Mugabe said it was unAfrican and against Zimbabwean culture for leaders to hand over power to younger ones while they were still alive or to choose their successors. Successors could only be found through elections — and only after he’s gone, he said, adding that calls for him to put a succession plan in place were “wild suggestions”.
With these words coming from his mouth, little doubt remains that Mugabe entertains the idea of being life president — to die in office.
Listening to him speaking, you can tell the man is not just strong for his age, but also still brimming with ambition to take the throne to the grave.
Of course, the excuses he advances for being the world record holder of the throne, are just the typical platefuls of bull that we eat up from our politicians day in and day out.
It is the same as all those eagle-eyed politicians in Zanu PF would have us believe that none of them habours presidential ambitions — that they are all there for nothing but to be the people’s servants.
We all know that they are lying and that virtually all of them dream of becoming the president one day! They are all simply too cowardly to stand up and challenge Mugabe at congress.
But then again, Mugabe’s threatening utterances about there being “no vacancy” for his position do not help matters for the men and women whom party renegade, the diminutive firebrand Margret Dongo, once described as Mugabe’s wives.
Nevertheless, Zanu PF politicians — except perhaps for the late good carpenter, vice president Simon Muzenda whom jesters claimed to have worried about whose deputy he would become in the event that Mugabe was gone —must know that it is absurd for them to deny they want the presidency.
Such denials are just red meat on the platter — too absurd for us to believe. After all, there is virtually nothing wrong, criminal, disrespectful or immoral about being an ambitious politician.