I HAVE made an observation of a frequent strange occurrence that appears to engulf Zimbabwe especially towards elections. There has been a spate of announcements in the Moyo bulletin about “donations” from President Mugabe to schools in t
he form of buses and computers.
My dilemma is the context of these so-called donations.
According to the Oxford dictionary, a donation is “the action or contract by which a person transfers the ownership of a thing from himself to another, as a free gift”. I find it perplexing that the provision of such equipment to schools, which they should have by right anyway, is highlighted as an act of goodwill by the president.
Among the duties of the president is to ensure that all schools in the country are properly equipped and it raises eyebrows when donations of equipment are done to a few selected, politically strategic schools.
By the way, from where are these donations coming? Most of these reports are not clear on this point even though they all heavily point to the fact that the president has dug into his savings and out of his kindness and goodwill decided to make a donation to these poor schools. This may be swallowed by the poor kids who get a supplementary feeding of the Tony Blair/George Bush/MDC conspiracy combinations whenever they are presented with these “gifts”.
But you cannot fool the whole population. I believe most people will be aware that these are proceeds from the government coffers which we all work hard to fill, if they are not donations from “our friends” in the Far East.
The portrayal of these actions as acts of goodwill falls into the same category as those which have led to some people in the rural areas labelling donations from other non-governmental organisations “Mugabe’s this” and “Mugabe’s that”.
I would not be surprised if those computers end up being called by names along the same lines!
Since the president is supposed to be the figure-head or father of the nation, this is analogous to a father donating basic things to his children. We could thus have headlines like, “Father donates toys to his (favourite) child (Kutama)”, “Father donates school uniform to his son”, “Father donates computer to his daughter”, etc.
This may sound a ridiculous analogue, but in a sense it is true. It is fortunate though that most fathers work hard to provide for the basic needs of their families and do not provide these as selective donations.
What is sad and unfortunate though is that even providing for one’s family’s basic needs is such a difficult thing to achieve these days.