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Are we the next ‘failed state’

Opinion by Bill Saidi

There have been recent events which have prompted some Zimbabweans to wonder if we are the next African country to be categorised as a “failed state”.

Bill Saidi
Bill Saidi

A “failed state” is exactly that — a State which is no longer able to qualify as a State: the Central African Republic is the latest.

Others must include the DRC, which has not functioned for many years.

To even suggest that we could soon be next must strike some people as the hallucination of citizens so disgruntled with their lot they are willing to give up on the country ever returning to a “normal” State.

But if you take recent outbursts by President Robert Mugabe and a declaration of the suspended head of the State broadcaster, you  must wonder what the hell is going on.

The president delivered an astonishing attack of Morgan Tsvangirai the other day. It was so extreme the Tsvangirayi-led MDC reacted with a declaration that I found eminently sensible and logical: the people of Zimbabwe must pray for the president.

The suggestion was he seemed in urgent need of help from on High. How would he, if he were in his proper senses, launch such an extremist attack on an opponent he trounced so thoroughly in the July 31 election?

Then later, the president made another astonishing statement: there was nothing wrong with having many wives.  On the face of it, that sounded reasonable. But nobody believes that having many wives is perfectly legitimate.

There are always peculiar circumstances when a man has to gather around him three, five or 10 wives. If it is not on some nebulous religious pretext, then it must occur on some weird ethnic grounds. In a normal Christian society, there have to be justification for it.

In any case, in a country facing particularly severe economic  problems — with banks running out of cash — why would the head of State spend precious time declaring the innocence of polygamy?

But the most peculiar statement to make us think of being added to a host of failed States on the continent, was a declaration by the suspended head of the State broadcaster, Happison Muchechetere.

He had been named as having received extraordinarily  excessive salaries and allowances — while half the staff had not been paid for months.

“I don’t care!” he said.

Some thought he had to be related to the president to make such a categorical statement of defiance.

The sums involved ran into thousands of dollars. No official reacted in any way to Muchechetere’s declaration.

A word of caution may have been passed on to him secretly, but there was nothing on public record.

It remained for ordinary people to speculate on what the country was coming to — if not heading for a failed State, where certain people make statements which alarm the ordinary citizens and make them suspect there was a whiff of madness around.

Zimbabwe is creaking under the weight of debts.

Unemployment is at a all-time high — 80 percent are without jobs.

Unofficially, millions face starvation because there is not enough food for all.

There may be no people shooting each other in the streets, or gangs shooting on sight people they suspect to be anti-this or anti-that. Daily News