There were reports in yesterday’s papers that some group of Zanu PF youths going by the name Youth Against Poverty — an affiliate of the Zimbabwe Youth Council — is agitating for the renaming of Borrowdale Road to Dr. Grace Mugabe Way.
This group of youths, which is supposed to preoccupy itself with matters of poverty among the youth of this country, appears to have lost direction completely. What does idolising the First Lady have to do with poverty eradication?
The group, led by one Tererai Chakanyuka, tries to justify the group’s strange idea with reasons that clearly show bankruptcy of knowledge about the subject that these misguided youths want to delve into.
“She has stood with the people of Zimbabwe in creation of self-employment through Zim-Asset projects which are a success,” Chakanyuka claims.
This Chakanyuka fellow seems to take the people of Zimbabwe so much for granted that he believes they are so foolish as to see themselves swimming in a sea of jobs, created by the First Lady — even as university graduate members of his group have to eke out a living as airtime vendors. That is why he, as leader of the group, has dropped his duty of fighting poverty and joblessness among his peers to focus on how to please Grace Mugabe — even by means most silly.
The youths that Chakanyuka leads must be wondering what is going on in their leader’s head — worrying about Borrowdale Road instead of seeking means of getting them out of the poverty that those that run this country have thrown them into.
It was refreshing and proper for chairperson of Harare City Council’s environment committee, Thomas Gomba to advise Chakanyuka and others like him that city roads are not named out of the wild whims of some bootlicking mentality.
“What has Grace Mugabe done for Harare or the country at large to deserve any recognition?” he asked.
“Such an honour is usually bestowed on the President or someone who has died after contributing immensely to the development of Harare as a city or the country at large,” Gomba said.
He added: “From our understanding, the First Lady has not done anything extraordinary for Harare or Zimbabwe as a country outside her political party, Zanu PF, which could give grounds for us to name a road after her . . . In any case we have already named a road after her husband, who is a leader of this country.”
But, exposing the folly of a sick mind, Chakanyuka insisted: “Our main concern is the changing of the street name from Borrowdale Road to Dr. Grace Mugabe Way!”
How this should be the “main concern” for a poverty youth group, one wonders, because as Gomba correctly says, Grace is not dead yet and besides, she has not done anything for the City of Harare or for Zimbabwe to warrant such honour.
Respect and recognition of good work is acceptable everywhere, but we should avoid falling into the political bad habit of seeking personal favours from leaders by transforming them into gods or living legends or saints.
We have had the likes of the late Tony Gara and other good-for-nothing political clowns in Zanu PF seeking to equate Mugabe to Jesus — showering him with hyperbolic praises.
There are others too in the MDC parties that worship their leaders in ways that risk transforming them into little human political gods.
What Zimbabweans should guard against are the dangers of transforming our leaders into demi-gods by unrestrained bootlicking of the kind we are witnessing — including waking up one morning with a “brilliant” idea of honouring somebody who has done nothing by naming some major road in the country’s capital city after them.
We are free to call our leaders all sorts of comic praise names like “Cremora”, but as soon as we start telling fallible beings that they are “True Sons of God”, “Angel Gabriel”, “second Jesus” or equating them to Biblical holy men “walking through the walls of Jericho”, we must know we are heading for disaster.
The Harare city fathers should throw away Chakanyuka’s weird idea without wasting ratepayers’ money by even putting it up on the debate agenda.