15 May 2012

The Emperors have no clothes!!!

One of the defining moments in my relatively short life was picking up a book called ‘The First Man in Rome’ by Colleen McCullough at the Bulawayo Public Library, that hallowed place where I went every weekend to soak up the masters of literature. In those books I came across the political greats such as Gaius Julius Caesar, Augustus Caesar, Marcus Tullius Cicero and Gaius Marius. Men whose actions both good and bad shaped the rise of what is possibly the greatest Empire mankind has ever known, Rome.

Which perhaps would go far in explaining my utter disgust, my complete revulsion, my horror, the stupefaction that befell me as I read this headline: “Zimbabwe's latest way to stop HIV: Force women to have fewer baths and shave off their hair to make them less attractive”. My mind rushed for some explanation to such a startlingly stupid headline, perhaps it’s some comedian or stupid TV presenter running their mouth off. But alas. Dear reader, these words were uttered by none other than a member of the Senate of the Republic of Zimbabwe. The Senate!!! The halls of highest legislative body in the land, the halls that bear the same name that the Roman Empire gave to their own decision making body, the halls that are to be the fount of the will of the people, the laws of the land, the dignity and gravitas of the State; The halls populated by such idiots.

I am over reacting I hear you say? How can I honestly take one measly line, probably taken out of context and run my mouth off? The problem this is not the first time. A few years ago, another Senator announced in all innocence that scientists should drop whatever it is that they were wasting time with and invent a drug that stops men having sex with prostitutes, and in case we were people who believed in second chances she followed that comment up with a speech imploring Parliament to distribute sex toys in prisons to stop prisoners abusing each other. Or how about last week’s comment from the Vice President of the country that her husband regularly slept away from their marriage home but that like a good wife who knows she cannot tame the bull, she had stayed. The venue for these remarks was none other than the memorial service of said late husband.

This is just a choice selection of quotes from some of the most powerful people in that country of mine. I would add more but unfortunately there are laws in place that would make it a crime (which in and of itself is saying something). These are the people who lead us, these are the people we expect to wake up every morning and chart the course the future of our national pride, our heritage, our collective nationhood along the stormy seas of global politics. These are the people who, God forbid, we expect to guide us should World War III suddenly break out and threaten the very existence of the human species. These are the people we put our faith and trust in, who we invest with the highest privileges our country can bestow and expect to damn well work their hardest to show for it. And this is what they say.

“MDC-T Member of Parliament, Thabitha Khumalo, said that women should not fight their husbands’ girlfriends, saying this could reduce the spread of infections.” 
Minister of Information, Jonathan Moyo: “(South Africans) are dirty. In fact they are filthy and recklessly uncouth”. 
Dr Joseph Made, the Minister of Agriculture who famously predicted a bumper harvest months before one of Zimbabweans biggest droughts presenting a report to parliament outlining the reasons for his oversight: “Our investigations have shown that a monkey caused damage to a transformer, thereby sabotaging our preparations for the coming season”.

Patrick Chinamasa, Minister of Justice, on dismissing charges brought against the Zimbabwean government: “"The ICC is there for serious crimes against humanity - not ordinary crime, which is what these exiles [and the South African High Court is] trying to suggest."

Google is my friend. Do not think I had to go far to get these quotes, nor that they represent the worst. Like I said before, some quotes would get me arrested so I leave the googling to you. And perhaps let us judge them by their actions and not their words? Where do you want to begin? The bankruptcy and cessation of operations that Air Zimbabwe announced early this year? Or perhaps the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authorities admission that power cuts of up to 9 hours per day in urban centres would continue for at least the next five years. Should we consider the famous incident where Anna Tibaijuka, a United Nations special envoy was fêted like royalty in Harare and declared to be a champion of the African Renaissance…until the day she issued a damning report that stated the governments’ ‘Operation Murambatsvina’ violated both local and international law and deprived a large number of Zimbabweans of their basic human rights.

Operation Restore Order, while purporting to target illegal dwellings and structures and to clamp down on alleged illicit activities, was carried out in an indiscriminate and unjustified manner, with indifference to human suffering, and, in repeated cases, with disregard to several provisions of national and international legal frameworks” – United Nations Executive Summary, 2005

There is a flag fluttering above the Supreme Court of Zimbabwe, another one stands proud above the Houses of Parliament and Senate and thousands more are scattered around the country and our embassies all over the world. These flags represent me, they represent the dreams and aspirations my ancestors had for me as they gazed at the African heavens centuries ago, they represent the blood of untold thousands who gave their lives fighting the fight of freedom, they represent the hope and the vision of a country born out of the ashes of a repressive regime that was Ian Smith’s government and the Mfecane that Shaka Zulu waged against my kingdom. Perhaps that flag will never fly as proudly as the purple robes of the Senators of the Roman Empire but our dreams are just as important to me, as precious and as deserving the utmost effort to make them a reality.

So I shall not hesitate in shouting that the so-called Emperors who run off their mouths calling for women to stop bathing or who strip any segment of the Zimbabwean population of their rights to liberty, to truth and to justice, that these men and women have no clothes and that they shame the hallowed halls of power of my land. They rule in the name of millions of Zimbabweans, what power we have given them, we can take away. Do not forget that Senator Morgan Femai.

Freedom suppressed and again regained bites with keener fangs than freedom never endangered.~ Marcus Tullius Cicero

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