THE recent remarks by President Robert Mugabe on Kalangas, their level of education and alleged “thieving” tendencies show us what type of a leader we have — an extremist who uses “unpresidential” language.

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By Freddy Mutoda

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mugabeIf Mugabe could say such things at a press conference, you wonder what sort of bigotry he spews behind closed doors and among his family and most trusted lieutenants.

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I have always thought Mugabe was smart, but like all aging human beings, he has become reckless with his speech and in the process betrayed his true character and inner thoughts.

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But is this a new Mugabe or a manifestation of the real man which years of State propaganda have always hidden from the public?

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One has to go back into history to discover that Mugabe has always regarded himself as “the man” and name-calling, accusations and sticking labels on political opponents and finding scapegoats when he is cornered and outright deception has been his game.

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Ask some of us who have known him for long, and we will tell you he is at his best playing tribal politics, setting political foes against each other, playing the educated pacifier in circumstances he is the latent belligerent.

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He has raved and ranted at everyone. Blamed everyone for the economic malaise bedevilling the nation he has led since independence in 1980, but he has never accepted responsibility for anything bad.

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It is either Joshua Nkomo and his alleged dissidents between 1982 and 1987, Edgar Tekere and to some extent Ndabaningi Sithole in the early and mid-1990s, Morgan Tsvangirai and his regime change agenda from 2000 to 2013 and now Joice Mujuru and her alleged “putchist cabal” who are responsible for all the troubles this country have had since independence from Britain.

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The Gukurahundi atrocities of the 1980s, mostly in Matabeleland and some parts of Midlands are blamed on Nkomo, the gripping economic decline at the turn of the century are attributed to Tsvangirai and his so-called partners in crime, some distant figures in Tony Blair and George W. Bush and now the xenophobic attacks in South Africa when Mugabe is both the Sadc and AU chairman have been reduced to the activities of some minority Zimbabwean group called the Kalanga.

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Blame shifting is his game — it is always someone else not Mugabe who is responsible for the troubles we are in, that is his contention.

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Mugabe has taken a public jibe at anyone whom he thinks commands more respect and support other than himself and even Pentecostal church leaders who command huge followings have been called “thieves”, “conman” and unscrupulous entrepreneurs who are milking people of their cash through tithes and offerings and in all this, he has found an accomplice in the often gullible State-controlled media which amplifies his bigotry without really taking him to task to explain his accusations, their motivation and what they were meant to achieve.

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He doesn’t see the bigger picture that the same so-called thieves and conmen are, to a very large extent, responsible for the stability and peace that his maladministration has enjoyed ever since he lost clue on how to fix the nation’s growing economic problems.

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Imagine if there were no churches offering people hope from above, if no one was urging people to humble themselves and pray so that God will heal their land (2 Chronicles 7:14) and instead if these so-called thieves and conmen were urging their congregants to join the call by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) to infest the streets and demonstrate against his government. Would he last another day in office?

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But vintage Mugabe would disregard all these works by these Men of God because he is threatened by the numbers that congregate for prayer every weekend at these so-called new churches, whatever this means, and if he finds time with Catholics, he frolics and goes into overdrive bashing preachers who do not subscribe to his quasi-Catholic, African traditional, Apostolic Sect beliefs. That is the man. Give him an opportunity; he speaks with his foot, right between his lips.

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Mugabe is in the business of character assassination and he has done it to everyone he dislikes, from Kwame Nkrumah, Nkomo, Nelson Mandela, Tsvangirai, Mujuru, church leaders, bishops, prophets and anyone who dares challenge his public appeal and often his disparaging remarks on anyone and anything are not true.

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On Nkrumah, history will tell you Mugabe was a chief critic of the revered Ghanaian leader and an avid supporter of Dr Kofi Busia, a chief Nkrumah critic and rival, and this explains his unceremonious flight from Ghana where he joined the struggle well after it had been started by the likes of Nkomo, Jason Moyo, Leopold Takawira, Josiah Magama Tongogara among other real liberation heroes.

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But today, when it suits him, he masquerades as a Nkrumaist, a pan-Africanist in the order of the late founding father of Ghana.

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That is Mugabe, a master of deception and propaganda who thrives on the masses’ gullibility and the use of the media and demagoguery to amplify his propaganda. Nkomo was the first victim of this deception post-independence and his letters from exile are telling in far as they give a clue into the psyche of the man we call president.

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Nkomo, in a letter he wrote to Mugabe in 1983, disputes all the accusations of banditry that were levelled against him as not only false, but also disclosed that Mugabe, in his “heart of hearts” knew he had lied about everything he was accusing Nkomo of.

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He wrote: “You have stated publicly on several occasions that I have plotted, and continue to plot, to overthrow you and your government, that I have conspired, and continue to conspire, with South Africa to do that, that I have organised and continue to organise dissident groups for the purpose of destabilising the country and finally to overthrow you” but “ I was convinced that you knew in your heart of hearts that all accusations were false”.

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Despite all this, Mugabe continued to preach that, “Zapu and its leader, Dr Joshua Nkomo, are like a cobra in a house. The only way to deal effectively with a snake is to strike and destroy its head,”

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If you look at the accusations now labelled against Mujuru, you will begin to understand that the leopard has not changed any of its spots and the accusations of seeking to overthrow him have been labelled on anyone whom Mugabe has thought, at any point, to be politically stronger than him, or posed a substantial political threat to his reign.

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Sithole faced it, so did Tsvangirai in the Ari Ben Menashe circus and now it is Mujuru, Rugare Gumbo, Nicholas Goche, Didymus Mutasa and the so-called ‘putchist cabal’.

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But why does Mugabe think he should not be challenged?

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A ready answer was given by Zanu PF national commissar, Saviour Kasukuwere when he said,

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“There is only one Zanu PF and it is the one which is led by our god, President Robert Mugabe,” while launching Auxilia Mnangagwa’s parliamentary election campaign in Chirumanzi-Zibagwe

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That Mugabe saw nothing wrong in that deification seems to confirm he believes he is God and this begins to explain why he thinks he is infallible, indispensable and all-knowing hence he sees no reason to admit he has somehow erred during his uninterrupted 35 years as head of government.

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This is where our problem as a country begins. We have deified an individual, no matter how old and uncanny he is now, and mortgaged our lives and the lives our children to a personality that believes is God at best and the Pope at worst-Kasukuwere, in one of his many eulogies on Mugabe said Mugabe was Pope while Emmerson Mnangagwa was his Bishop and Mugabe has never publicly denied it, or chastise Kasukuwere for the statement.

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At this point, I begin to sympathise and find sense in what the People First movement is trying to propagate, in one of the statements that the group has availed to the media whereof the former Zanu PF members believe that at no point should a country deify a leader to the extent of confusing that leader for God. The People First group contents that,

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“We say ‘No’ to worshiping leaders which we equate to idolatry. Notwithstanding our non-negotiable independence, we declare our total dependence on God. He is the only One we shall praise and worship, not any individual.”

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This is exactly where our problem begins as a country. We have allowed an individual to play God over us and in the process alienated ourselves from our creator through this idolatry and the sooner we run away from such a leader, the better for the country.

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I content, as did Jonathan Moyo in 2006 in his interview with Violet Gonda of SW Radio, that “as long as we have President Mugabe in power and more particularly as long as we have Zanu PF in power, we are not going to address the basic fundamental problems that are affecting our economy.”

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So it is adieus Mugabe and Zanu PF’s idolatry and enter those who fear the Lord and put people first in everything they do, and until we do that, we will remain under the Zanu PF and Mugabe curse for long.

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Television personality Rebecca Chisamba had no kind words for people like Mafara who, in her opinion, act irresponsibly.

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“People should not get into meaningless relationships because baby dumping does not solve any problems.

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“The problem is some of our women think that getting pregnant means they will keep a lover or that it will induce a man to marry them,” she said.

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Chisamba also believes society should improve on sex education because ignorance also perpetuated situations leading to infanticide or baby dumping.

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“Our children do not have knowledge on sex education and need to be taught.

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“… some parents are so hard on their children that when faced with a difficult situation such as pregnancy, most girls end up baby dumping,” she said.

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Most women who choose the abortion route say although a “safe” abortion is exorbitant — around $350 — it’s still a lot cheaper than the cost of giving birth to a child in a city hospital.

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There are those who cannot afford the “safe” option and resort, instead, to consulting traditional healers.

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Maidei* (not her real name), a student who has used traditional remedies to terminate her four pregnancies so far says a concoction of pungent herbs by traditional healers sells for around $40 a dose.

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“HIV is better because you can take ARVs and live. A baby is, however, another issue as it would disrupt my academic studies and also my parents would skin me alive. I have aborted four times because a baby is a priority so far,” Maidei declared.

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The termination of a pregnancy, according to the constitution, is a criminal act, and is dealt with as such. But most students believe the law is out-dated and no longer relevant to Zimbabwe’s modern society.

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A report by the United Nations Children’s Fund shows that more than 70 000 illegal abortions are carried out in the country every year, with Zimbabwean women running a 200 times greater risk of dying of abortion complications than their counterparts in South Africa, where the procedure is legal.