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Mugabe cannot fool Zim's young

By unknown | Mar 14, 2008 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

If President Robert Mugabe, who has set himself a punishing campaign schedule for the March 29 elections, suddenly fell ill it's certain his handlers will summon a physician who specialises in ailments that afflict very old people - 84 years old.

Such a doctor specialises in geriatrics, a branch of medical science concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of diseases affecting elderly people.

Such a doctor would not be needed if either Morgan Tsvangirai or Simba Makoni took ill on their campaign trail. Both men are in their 50s.

In fact, one could say that, if Mugabe had been married in his 20s, he could have fathered either man.

Let me go even further and suggest, without appearing to be facetious, that this presidential race is about fathers and sons.

Any cynic could ask: "Why would the voters of Zimbabwe even hesitate who they ought to vote for. An 84-year-old man or two young men in their 50s? Isn't this what the bookies would call a 'no contest'"?

But this is Zimbabwe, the country with the highest inflation rate in the world, record unemployment and where the average man can expect to live to just 35 years.

The cause of this terrifying state of affairs is the collapse of the healthcare system, which followed the collapse of the economy, beginning with the reckless invasion of white commercial farms by war veterans in 2000.

One of the presidential candidates, the geriatric, is generally held responsible for this state of affairs. He prefers to blame it all on sanctions, imposed on his country by the British, Americans and any other white person who was incensed by his takeover of the farms previously run profitably by white farmers.

He subsequently forced them out of the country. Most left the country without a penny to their names.

If all this sounds suspiciously like propaganda churned out by opponents of the 84-year-old man who needs a geriatrician, then you will be forgiven.

Most young people in Zimbabwe have refused to accept that the country's economy has been enfeebled by the sanctions alone.

They cite corruption in high places, the mismanagement of the economy by a government still nostalgic about its disastrous Marxist-Leninist experiments in the early days of independence.

They also cite the flight of many qualified Zimbabweans - among them doctors, bankers, architects, economic planners and brain surgeons - from a country in which dissent is not tolerated and The Word of one man, the geriatric, is supposed to be sacrosanct.

The old man recently chided the young people, especially the young bankers who fled the country, because according to the equally young governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe they were not being honest in their dealings with depositors' funds.

Mugabe actually spoke as if the young bankers had been convicted of something heinous, such as grabbing candy out of the mouths of babies.

If that were so, why are most of these young people prospering wherever they are operating today?

The old man is extremely frightened of young people, which is why the two young people hoping to take over the presidency from him are careful not to dwell too much on the question of his age.

Things look terrific to him, though they are really terrifying.

I can say all this because I am not in the contest. I am safe . at least for the moment.

l The writer is deputy editor at The Standard in Zimbabwe.


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