When Robert Mugabe dies — I predict peacefully, in his sleep — he will go believing himself the most beneficent and magnanimous of leaders, the champion of his state, black and beautiful, bountiful and good.
If the children of Zimbabwe are starving or dying of the cholera he introduced to some parts, if the currency would seem to be forever foundering, if the cries of brutality, corruption, and injustice remain constant in the air and on the airwaves of either opposition or truthful radio, all of that would be no fault of his: he, Robert Mugabe, did what he could.
And he got away with it!
Do dictators know what they do?
I don’t think they do.
At least they may not be aware of their effects with a depth in any way anchored in a human and sentimental heart.
In the Great Halls of Mirrors, the brightest reflections are of heroic men, each dictator alpha among others, struggling on their own behalf, their families (not really but it’s made to look that way, for image matters), and their people for place of pride against a world that would otherwise undo and enslave them.
Theirs is a fight for every inch and measurable Nth of property, business, and resource, while every reflection — the stuff of “narcissistic supply” — by way of paid and patronized advisers and associates, fawning (or faking it) family, and permitted controlled media agree with that outlook.
In the contempt and disparagement of others, in the inability to connect with a common humanity, in the abuse and intimidation of others, in the callous disregard of deep injustice and tragedy suffered by others directly or indirectly at their hands, there seems a surface ever ready to shatter, ever uncertain of its own basis in being that has long gone missing.
I may slip from analysis to poetry to fiction here as the depth of what one witnesses in such figures eludes “observable-measurable” note making. However, for this post, the following statement and the URLs accompanying it all report or reflect on what is known:
A power-sharing deal signed on September 15 aimed to bring together the current president Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, signaled a moment of hope for the future of Zimbabwe. Instead, it marked the start of the country’s most recent descent into chaos: water and sanitation services shut down; inflation skyrocketed; food shortages spread across the country; hospitals and clinics closed their doors; outbreaks of cholera, anthrax, and possibly malaria threaten lives; and in a country where where AIDS kills over 400 Zimbabweans a day, care for HIV/AIDS and opportunistic infections have lost priority. While innocent civilians fight for their lives the governing parties clash over the rule of Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe Health System Crisis, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, n.d.
▶ Robert Mugabe Denies Cholera Epidemic in Zimbabwe – YouTube 12/12/2008
allAfrica.com: Zimbabwe: Intensifying Government Bankruptcy (Page 1 of 2) 2/8/2013
Face up to reality and start talking to Robert Mugabe – FT.com 9/10/2013
allAfrica.com: Zimbabwe Sails Close to Economic Rocks (Page 1 of 2) 8/28/2013:
According to Zimbabwe’s Indigenisation Act of 2007, foreign-owned companies are forced to cede 51 percent of their shares to local people. But economists warn that the indigenisation policy is driving investors away.
“Foreign investors are obliged to bring in 100 percent of the capital, bear 100 percent of the risk, provide 100 percent of the technology, and in turn settle for 49 percent of the equity and pay taxes,” independent economist Kingston Nyakurukwa told IPS.
China, whose labor has been keeping me in sharp western-designed clothing for a while, may prove up to burden of keeping the ever dapper Robert Mugabe looking equally as good.
Zimbabwe Gets Computers to Track Epidemics, Diseases 12/20/2012 — Still, the United States lends a helping hand. However, notes this article, such aid, which admittedly focuses on HIV/AIDS control and contributes to the American Center for Disease Control (CDC) data base, arrives within this context:
As a result of bankruptcy, President Robert Mugabe’s government in Zimbabwe is failing to meet the Abuja Declarations which recommends that African governments allocate 15 percent of their budgets towards health.
Saudi Gazette – Mugabe’s bankruptcy (near direct-to-print URL), n.d.
BBC News – Bitterness and unease in bankrupt Zimbabwe 3/6/2010
Zimbabwe Egalitarian and Equal Opportunity Measures
Robert Mugabe’s land reform comes under fresh scrutiny | World news | theguardian.com 5/10/2013
When a Crocodile Eats the Sun: A Memoir of Africa: Peter Godwin: 9780316018715: Amazon.com: Books (2007)
Mugabe and the White African | POV | PBS
Zimbabwe Food Security
Zimbabwe faces looming food crisis, says UN | World news | theguardian.com 9/4/2013:
Zimbabwe is facing a “looming food crisis” with one in four people in rural areas at risk of hunger early next year, the highest number in half a decade, the UN has warned.
The gloomy prediction was seen as a blow to analysts who have argued that Robert Mugabe’s widely condemned land reform programme is starting to pay dividends.
IRIN Africa | Army worm outbreak threatens Zimbabwe’s food security | Zimbabwe | Early Warning | Food Security 1/14/2013
IPS – Rebuilding Zimbabwe’s Health System | Inter Press Service 6/19/2013:
Every day, eight women and 100 children die from pregnancy- and delivery-related complications in Zimbabwe, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). Most of them die of easily preventable causes and illnesses.
Kubatana – Archive – A call to the new government of Zimbabwe to prioritize the right to health and clean water – ZADHR- Sep 12, 2013
Media group says Zimbabwe police ban on hand-cranked, solar radios illegal ahead of polling | Fox News 2/22/2013
In Zimbabwe’s Media, It’s All About Robert Mugabe : NPR 5/13/2012
Zimbabwe journalists worried: Mugabe cabinet includes ‘media hangman’ – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) 9/13/2013
Zimbabwe – Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ’s main Zimbabwe page)
Q&A: Zenzele Ndebele promotes radio in Zimbabwe – Blog – Committee to Protect Journalists 7/29/2013
Zimbabwean refugees: Between haven and hell – Features – Al Jazeera English 8/1/2013
UNHCR – Zimbabwe – “2013 UNCHR regional operations profile – Southern Africa”:
At the end of 2011, there were some 449,000 people of concern to UNHCR in Southern Africa, including 145,000 refugees, 245,000 asylum-seekers, 55,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) and 4,000 returnees.
When the day after comes, as it comes to all survivors, how will Zimbabwe remember Robert Mugabe?
UNHCR Video: “Zimbabweans in South Africa”
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