‘Mnangagwa shouldn’t indoctrinate our children to idolize tyranny!’
Children usually become like their parents. That is why there is the saying, ‘an apple doesn’t fall far from the tree’.
The greatest ability children were given by the Creator, as a learning tool, is emulating, and thus copying, their parents – whom they naturally adore and glorify.
As such, if a parent is kind, compassionate and loving – the children will, in most cases, similarly be kind, compassionate and loving.
In the same vein, if a parent is unfaithful, abusive or a drunk – the children will usually follow suit.
That is why, in raising our offspring, the adage, ‘do as I say, not as I do’ does not hold any water – as they will definitely ‘do as we do’.
This is the reason I am always careful not to rush into unfairly criticizing or castigating my own son for what he would have done wrong.
After close and honest scrutiny, it may turn out that he will simply be repeating exactly what he would have seen me doing.
As such, as a father, I need to make sure that my behavior is what I would want my son to become.
This same principle is true even on a national level.
What a country’s leaders do, is usually emulated and copied by the younger generation – since those in the ruling elite are ordinarily looked upon with admiration by an impressionable generation.
That is why when I watched, in the news, a snippet of yesteryear’s ‘Children’s Parliament’ – held to mark the ‘Day of the African Child’ – I found something most troubling.
The ‘Child President’, as he ‘inspected’ the children’s ‘guard of honor’, was swamped and drowned in ‘bodyguards’, with some even carrying briefcases!
As he addressed the gathering, he also had a uniformed ‘aide-de-camp’ standing behind him.
All these shenanigan were, of course, a direct copycat of the disgraceful nonsense we witness with our respective heads of state – from the late Robert Gabriel Mugabe to the current Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa.
Of course, this was all an act – but what it symbolized was extremely worrisome, and did not paint a good picture on the future of our young ones.
In fact, one of the things that make me feel so ashamed of, and even feel sorry for, our president, is the prison life that he lives.
This is more true whenever I come across his motorcade – an unnecessarily long convoy, stretching for nearly a hundred meters – manned by menacingly heavily-armed men.
I always comment to those close to me that, being a president in Zimbabwe is the greatest form of imprisonment!
I recall, some years back, telling my family that, the last time Mugabe ever saw the country he supposedly leads was a few days before independence on 18th April 1980.
After that, he was virtually his own prisoner, as he could not even take a stroll in his own neighborhood, or do a bit of shopping with his family at a local supermarket, or go out dining with his wife.
The same applies to Mnangagwa.
In fact, I seriously wonder if these leaders even get natural sleep – due to the crippling fear of either being assassinated or overthrown – or they require some sleep-inducing medications.
What manner of life is that?
The irony in all this is that, despite all the massive security around Mugabe – he was eventually toppled by his own comrades and military.
Everyday I thank my Jehovah God for the modest life that I have – whilst at the same time enjoying my freedom – which is in stark contrast to that of the president of Zimbabwe.
Indeed, all state presidents have a measure of tight security surrounding them – more so, those with a high profile, as in the USA – who have enemies all across the globe.
However, in most cases, this is done cleverly and usually out of the public gaze.
They never walk totally drowned amongst a sea of bodyguards – such that, one has to meticulously search, where in the crowd, the president may be located.
If it were not for the scarf, most times, I would not be able to spot Mnangagwa, for instance.
Actually, there was a time – while officially opening a shopping mall in the capital Harare – when Mnangagwa told guests that he required about 150 security personnel when traveling!
Why this incredible and seemingly inexplicable terror of the same people one claims to lead?
Is that not why we were once told of a story, whereby Ian Douglas Smith (former Rhodesian prime minister) once dared Mugabe to walk together along Harare’s First Street – without any bodyguards – to see who, between the two, would be manhandled by angry mobs?
This is very telling!
Our leaders, especially here in Zimbabwe, know very well that they are actually not genuinely loved by the people they lead.
They are fully aware that their claim to power was never through any real democratic processes.
Let us not forget that, the ruling ZANU PF party has never had a democratic peaceful transfer of power between its presidents, since its formation in 1963.
Mugabe toppled the party’s first president Ndabaningi Sithole in 1976, without a congress or following proper procedure – whilst, Mugabe himself was ousted by Mnangagwa in 2017, via military coup d’état.
In fact, his (Mnangagwa’s) questionable ascendancy to the realm of ZANU PF is currently being challenged in Zimbabwe courts by party member Sybeth Musengezi.
He claims that the 19th November 2017 central committee meeting that dismissed Mugabe as president – thereby, replacing him with Mnangagwa – was flawed, as it violated the ZANU PF constitution.
In so doing, as much as both Mugabe and Mnangagwa may claim to have been elected as heads of state through the popular vote – nonetheless, their claim to power in their own party (which rendered them candidates for the country’s presidency) was dubious, to say the least.
Besides, nearly every election in Zimbabwe, especially post-2000, has been highly disputed and controversial – as soiled by the brutal crackdown on the opposition, biased state institutions and media, as well as a voters’ roll in shambles.
On top of this, both these men have presided over the destruction of a once prosperous ‘jewel of Africa’ – leading to the unbelievable suffering and impoverishment of the people of Zimbabwe.
As I write this now, half the population lives in extreme poverty, with three quarters earning below the poverty datum line.
A small family now reportedly needs over ZW$1,500,000 a month for the most basic of necessities – yet, civil servants and pensioners earn peanuts.
The country’s annual inflation rare is the highest in the world, at nearly 800 percent – while the US dollar is trading at an alarming ZW$6,713 on the official RBZ market, and ZW$8,500 on the parallel market.
This, while those in power are always making headlines for looting billions of US dollars worth of our gold, diamonds and other resources – as they live in obscene insulting opulence.
They can easily charter private jets to holiday all over the world, access medical treatment in expensive overseas institutions, with their children studying or domiciled in Europe.
As matter of fact, information ministry permanent secretary Nick Mangwana is actually a UK citizen, while finance minister Mthuli Ncube’s family resides in Switzerland.
This, as millions of ordinary Zimbabweans can not access basic medical attention in our public health institutions – which lack essential medications, radiotherapy machines, and decent maternity facilities.
Our children still learn in the open, without adequate educational material – such as books, chairs and desks (some actually using piles of bricks), much less modern science and technology equipment.
Is there any wonder why Mnangagwa would be swamped with over a hundred bodyguards?
Who can feel safe after having ruined millions of Zimbabweans’ lives, driving them into such unimaginable poverty and misery?
Those in power are fully aware that the people they lead are very angry.
That is why even constitutionally-enshrined rights, as peaceful demonstrations, have practically been banned – on the pretext that they will turn violent.
Even opposition leader Jacob Ngarivhume was jailed for an effective four years, merely for calling upon Zimbabweans to engage in such peaceful protests.
All I can say to all this is that – those in power only have themselves to blame for such fear of their own people.
However, what I find utterly deplorable and unacceptable is making this fear seem appealing and glamorous in the eyes of our impressionable young ones.
As witnessed with the ‘Child President’, our children now appear to glory the dictatorship in Zimbabwe – even going as far as copying the ridiculousness associated with a leader who lives in perpetual terror of those he leads.
We need to inculcate in our future leaders a culture of selflessness – characterized by placing the interests of the nation first, through honest faithful leadership, which is accountable to the citizenry.
In so doing, there will really be no need for a president to hide behind hundreds of heavily-armed menacing men.
Our children should learn that being a leader is not about power and making the people fear the president.
They need to be exposed to other world leaders who can freely jog in their neighborhoods, ride a bike or on a public train to the office, and drink coffee at a local café.
Those are leaders who are genuinely loved by their own people.
That is what our children should adore and seek to emulate.
I pray that during the next ‘Child Parliament’ opening, the ‘Child President’ will appear with no ‘bodyguards’, and walk freely amongst the gathered people.
This would instill in the young generation what it really means to be a leader of the nation.
● Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice advocate and writer. Please feel free to WhatsApp or Call: +263715667700 | +263782283975, or email: [email protected], or visit website: http://mbofanatendairuben.news.blog/