“When we are sick, we want an uncommon doctor; when we have a construction job to do, we want an uncommon engineer, and when we are at war, we want an uncommon general. It is only when we get into politics that we are satisfied with the common man.” — Herbert Hoover.
For those who don’t know, Hoover (August 10, 1874 – October 20, 1964) was the 31st President of the United States of America (1929-1933).
Given the paucity of political leadership in our long suffering country since we supposedly got our independence from Britain in April 1980, Hoover was surely a witch doctor (probably from Nigeria!) who had Zimbabwe in mind when he made this political observation almost a century ago.
Indeed, what sins have we committed as Zimbabweans to deserve the special kind of common (read useless) political leaders that we have?
I pondered over this issue as I listened incredulously to President Robert Mugabe’s outrageous utterances at his lavish birthday bash that was held in Victoria Falls last weekend.
And here I need to quote Mugabe, as he laid into his trusted former number two, Joice Mujuru, to hammer the point home.
“We managed to know what Mai Mujuru was doing at her house, even consulting n’angas (witch doctors).
“Recently, she invited two Nigerian sangomas. We heard that they were specialists in the field of witchcraft. They were specialists, yes, but specialists in robbing people, foolish people,” he said, adding rather indelicately that the ensuing rituals had allegedly been conducted while Mujuru was half naked.
“Izvozvo zvange zvichiitwa ivo vanzi bisai hembe. Bisai hembe; mazamu pachena, ugonzi unosara uku chete (While the rituals were being conducted, Mujuru was told to take off her clothes and her breasts were left exposed),” Mugabe told the estimated 20 000 people who attended his birthday bash, including children, without batting an eyelid.
And speaking earlier in an interview with ZTV, Mugabe did not hold back either in his assault on Mujuru.
“Hameno akavafurira mai ava tisu takasanovaisa munzvimbo (I don’t know who misled this woman (Mujuru) we were the ones who appointed her vice president) not because she was qualified, there were many men who were more experienced and more capable.
“And there she was and we wanted to groom her there and yah, I suppose the fact that she has gone to university she has become a doctor of some learning and she thought, oh I can now become president. It’s not those things which count,” Mugabe thundered — in the tone of a demi-god with the power to give and take life!
One would have to be a total imbecile not to appreciate the fact that there is everything wrong with what Mugabe said — from the content to the tone and places where he said all this.
For Mugabe is not just a very mature 91-year-old, worthy of being a respectable great grandparent to many, he is also the leader of this troubled nation that is in such desperate need of healing and grandfatherly love.
In addition, the target of his, and his wife Grace’s, disgraceful venom, Joice, was for many years like a daughter to him.
So, what message does the president think he is sending to the nation when he brazenly mouths off such embarrassingly indecent words, which border on sick sexism and hate language?
What lessons indeed did Chipangano and his often-violent Zanu PF Youth League take from these pronouncements from the Head of State and Government, who is also Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces and Chancellor of all State Universities?
But more importantly, in a once-rich country that is now officially a dirty, poor, failed State. Are these the most important issues that should prompt a leader of such a country to commandeer the State broadcaster for days on end?
Does Mugabe not know about our dire economic challenges, the rising poverty levels and joblessness in the country, the decimation of commerce and industry as a result of his ruling party’s gross incompetence, and the endemic public sector corruption that has brought our resource-rich country to its knees in his 35 years in power?
Indeed, things are so bad that despite the bravado from on high, Zimbabwe is now a truly “Proudly Lost Cause” — with neither pride, its own national currency or the capacity to provide for its own basic needs.
So, back to Hoover, “When we are sick, we want an uncommon doctor; when we have a construction job to do, we want an uncommon engineer, and when we are at war, we want an uncommon general. It is only when we get into politics that we are satisfied with the common man”.
Cry the beloved country.