As a highly successful African Purchase Area farmer, he had tales about unproductive farmers. According to my father, a lazy Zimbabwean farmer always finds someone to blame for his poor crop. Whenever there was a drought, the lazy farmer had the whole world to blame, including everybody’s ancestors and the creator as well.
The lazy farmer would protest that the ancestors and God had, indeed, abandoned all of us, all humanity to perish through starvation.
He would paint a bizarre picture of children and their mothers dying in the fields and valleys, surrounded by skinny, dying animals, dry vegetation, sandy, waterless streams and rivers snaking their way through the rocky earth.
There was no sign of life, with everything abandoned by the ancestors.
But then when the rains came during good seasons, the lazy farmer blamed his neighbours for bewitching the soil in his fields to make them infertile. Fantastic stories were told of how some neighbouring farmers were so skilled in the art of even diverting the rain away from the lazy farmer’s fields. Such bewitching farmers had the craft to divert the rain-bearing winds too.
Or if the rains came to the lazy farmer’s fields, they also were hired to bring harsh and deadly thunderbolts and lightning which always struck his homestead, leaving the thatch roofs smouldering in smoke and ash.
It was only the lazy farmer’s fields which did not receive rains.
In the lazy farmer’s imagination, even the owl which perched on his roof was an ominous sign of bad harvests and inexplicable deaths to come. Everything was caused by outside forces. A child suffering from clear cases of illnesses such as malaria was said to have been bewitched by the bad neighbours whose plan was always to ensure the lazy farmer never went to the fields while attending to the sick. Every natural force wreaked havoc on the lazy farmer’s production plans.
The lazy farmer’s mentality is with us today.Every problem I encounter is caused by other people. In President Mugabe the lazy farmer mentality has manifested itself in modern day Zimbabwe, but this time through a man who spent a sizeable amount of time studying books, in the process obtaining numerous academic degrees.
The lazy farmer blames either the weather or his neighbours for his own failure or incompetence. Mugabe blames the United States and Europe for his own errors of judgement or even for his deliberate mistakes.
Zimbabwe’s economy started collapsing in 1997 after the dishing out of unbudgeted-for money to pay ex-combatants who had been totally forgotten for 17 years. Because of the political urgency of the matter, even non-combatants stood at the front of the queue with empty bowls for the ready cash.
True combatants had lived as paupers who, allegedly, had only themselves to blame for failing to integrate into the tyrannical society they had fought against.
How else could we explain the omission?
But of course, according to farmer Mugabe, the collapse of the Zimbabwean economy only occurred after “sanctions” were imposed by the Europeans and the Americans. On talking with the then Minister of Finance, Dr Herbert Murerwa, about where the government was going to get all those billions to give to ex-combatants, he did not lie to me. “I don’t know. I also saw it in the news like you,” he responded before he soon lost his job.
Mugabe has transformed a once professional army to some kind of personal militia with no military ethics. They can salute only him, their code of conduct says, and nobody else. The Americans and the European Union are to blame for that. He has nothing to do with it. Once again, the lazy farmer mentality!
A few years ago, a Herald story about droughts covered almost a full page in which the author of the piece went to town in trying to explain how the Americans were tampering with the weather pattern over Zimbabwean skies in order to inflict heavy droughts on the “revolutionary” Zimbabwean leaders.
The final American goal was to make people starve so they could rebel and remove Mugabe from power. A reader faced with such stories cannot avoid thinking the country is run through some kind of science fiction! In this case, we could just call it a lazy farmer mentality, according to my father.
Reasonable people are supposed to study the weather patterns of our poor earth instead of shifting into the lazy farmer mentality.
First, the opposition was the creation of the British and the Americans who were bent on creating unpatriotic, treacherous characters to destabilise the nationalists and revolutionaries of Zimbabwe.
Somehow, in this vein, Mugabe and Ian Smith are not different. Smith, may his soul not rest in pieces, always thought when his “black Rhodesians” rebelled against him, it was definitely with the incitement of the communists somewhere in China and Russia.
Equipped with this Cold War mentality, Mugabe also thinks should Zimbabweans rebel against his politics of tyranny, they surely are inspired by the imperialist Britain and capitalist America. Left to themselves, Zimbabweans are sheep going to the slaughter without a whimper.
Once again, a lazy farmer mentality.
And when he manoeuvres the government of national unity into a dormant and non-functioning political ghost, he blames the imperialists for dividing the new government. It is the very Mugabe soldiers and ministers who work full time to ensure the new government is crippled in its attempts to bring services to Zimbabweans. But Mugabe would have none of the responsibility. The imperialists are to blame. It would seem the imperialists are his own side of the cabinet, including himself.
The lazy farmer mentality ensures that Mugabe will never admit to making any mistake in the governance of our country. The whole economic mess, the corruption and human rights abuses are caused by outside forces.
The lazy farmer mentality is so deeply embedded in Mugabe’s mind that we can actually prove that he is not running the country at all. Our country, according to the lazy farmer mentality, is run by others while Mugabe simply looks on like a helpless spectator from the comfort of State House.
Mugabe’s ministers and the army actually cherish the lazy farmer mentality of the president. They don’t have to be efficient at anything since all their corruption, abuse of power and looting is always blamed on the imperialists.
The lazy farmer mentality is born of the incapacity to evaluate oneself in the affairs of daily conduct. Mugabe has never developed the capacity of introspection to evaluate his political performance in order to achieve some kind of refinement.
According to my late father, such men never improve or create anything positive as they fully engage in the lazy farmer mentality. — The Zimbabwe Times.
Hove is based in Norway.
By Chenjerai Hove