“My Rockstar status is damaged by the bankruptcy of my country. Please help me; I love my stardom,” former deputy prime minister Professor Arthur Mutambara said last Friday as he launched his autobiography in the UK.
Professor Mutambara is not ordinarily immodest about his academic achievements and his wide-ranging address at London’s Westminster University was true to form; a generous serving of hubris and grandiloquence.
And yet when you engage him off the stage, you quickly realise that the excessive pride is actually a performance; at heart, the humble boy from Mutambara village in Manicaland still abides.
He was making a more serious point; that Zimbabweans would never be respected on the global stage – however remarkable their achievements – as long as the country remains a basket case.
He told his London audience that he regularly impresses with his presentations at global fora such as the Davos World Economic Forum in Switzerland; that is until they ask what country he comes from.
“They then ask, ‘if you’re so clever why is your country bankrupt, why don’t you have a currency of your own; you’re a professor of cholera’,” the robotics scholar explained.
Mugabe can’t write a pamphlet
Mutambara, who was deputy premier in the coalition government under President Robert Mugabe, attacked the now 93-year-old leader for failing to write “even a pamphlet”.
President Mugabe, who is said to – by both ally and foe – to have a formidable intellect does not have a book to his name.
There were reports that former information minister Nathan Shamhuyarira had been writing the veteran leader’s biography but the ex-journalist died in 2014 without completing the work and nothing has been heard of the project.
“Shame on Mugabe! 57 years in the front seat of national politics and he hasn’t even written a pamphlet?! Volumes are for Mutambara, we do the volumes; Mugabe must write a pamphlet,” said Mutambara, adding that other leaders such as Nyerere, Obama, Mandela, had documented their experiences and thoughts for posterity.