President Robert Mugabe reminds me of former England national team manager Steve McClaren. During one match on a rainy day, McClaren reached out for an umbrella while his players were soaking wet on the field.

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By Conrad Nyamutata

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Globe-trotter: President Robert Mugabe
Globe-trotter: President Robert Mugabe

McClaren became the object of ridicule ever since, earning himself the nickname Wally with Brolly. McClaren’s faux paus became a defining moment for the behaviour of soccer managers.

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No manager has dared touch a brolly on the touchline, no matter how heavy it rains.

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One would have called Mugabe Bob with Brolly. But he is worse; as his people soak in hardships, Mugabe does not even stay in the “stadium”.

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He abandons his people altogether. He would rather access exclusive medical treatment in Singapore for even something as minor as a cataract.

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Mugabe is one of a number of African rulers who have sought treatment abroad. Some of them still died in foreign hospital beds.

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Both the living and the dead claimed to be and still posture as dyed-in-the-wool nationalists. But nationalism that lacks faith in its own national institutions is odiously pretentious.

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We lack leaders who are principled, but have rulers who are guided by self-interest.

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As opposition officials said recently, Mugabe’s vote of no confidence in the local health system is an indictment on his rule.

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Of course, we will be told the same thing — it is sanctions.

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It is credit to Zanu PF’s propagandistic flair that it has engendered pervasive and unreflecting mimicry of this as the sole cause of Zimbabwe’s economic troubles.

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Anyone in a beer hall, even without the slightest clue of its meaning or international relations dynamics, now parrots the word unthinkingly.

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Jabulani Sibanda, having fallen out with Zanu PF, may not be the best reference point.

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But he was right in stating that we cannot blame sanctions for some of the inadequacies we have experienced. Jacob Mudenda, very much a Zanu PF official, said the same.

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What it comes down to is poor and insensitive rulership.

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If it is indeed sanctions, why should an avowed nationalist abandon the “stadium” and let his people to suffer alone?

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Mugabe’s spokesperson George Charamba argued Mugabe, as president, does extraordinary work that qualifies him for extraordinary services. Ordinary people also go abroad for treatment, he contended.

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For starters, current conditions do not support the idea of a leader performing any extraordinary work. Zimbabwe has been in the doldrums for a long time.

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And to argue that other ordinary people also go abroad to seek treatment is only to confirm the deterioration of the health delivery system under Mugabe’s watch.

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He has responsibility for domestic welfare, and that includes improving health services.

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The notion that Mugabe’s life is somewhat more special because he is president is, forgive the pun, sickening to the core.

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This gradation in the value of human life eviscerates the nationalist rhetoric that founds itself on egalitarian equality that Zanu PF has preached.

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This is the same party that has also preached about its commitment to ZimAsset, its supposed turnaround strategy.

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One of its promises is to construct an ambitious 250 clinics before 2018.

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Except for Zanu PF dimwits, not many people believed this would ever be accomplished in the first place.

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But such goals become even more chimerical when a leader blows between $10 and $15 million in foreign travel when the country’s coffers are virtually empty.

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Mugabe would rather spend the few millions of dollars to serve his personal and family medical needs than those of thousands of rural folks without clinics.

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That can only be insensitive rulership. Daily News