Fri Oct 21 02:42:15 CAT 2016

Laughter eases Zimbabweans' pain and loneliness

By unknown | Apr 11, 2008 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Zimbabweans are known for their indefatigable capacity to laugh, not only at themselves but at others.

Zimbabweans are known for their indefatigable capacity to laugh, not only at themselves but at others.

For many years they believed Robert Mugabe was God's gift to the nation, until they discovered it wasn't Zimbabwe he had in mind.

In the aftermath of the events of March 29 there was what one wag described as a "comic opera", mostly of Zanu-PF launching frantic attempts to deny the reality of their rout.

There were guffaws at the spectacle of Zanu-PF going to court to accuse election officers of doctoring the votes in favour of the opposition.

Suddenly Zanu-PF had discovered, to their horror, they held the monopoly on political skulduggery. Their loyal operatives had betrayed them.

But the juiciest was yet to come: in the offing was the mother of all treason trials, more sensational than Morgan Tsvangirai's, featuring Ari Ben Menashe, former Mossad agent and friend of Zanu-PF.

"Guess who is the chief accused in this one? Gushungo [Mugabe]. For betraying the party to the MDC."

Laughter eases the pain of loneliness. Many Zimbabweans feel abandoned by the rest of the world.

I was reminded of a documentary on the origins of the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt.

Gamal Abdel Nasser, then president, was convinced they had plotted to kill him and take over the country. He went after them, hammer and tongs, driving them underground.

Today they still pose a challenge to the ruling National Democratic Party, now headed by Hosni Mubarak, successor to Anwar Sadat, whom I met in Cairo in 1978 before his assassination in 1981,

The Muslim Brotherhood was blamed for that bloodbath.

Elections are due soon and the Brotherhood is being watched with an eagle's eye by Mubarak. Don't be surprised if the Brotherhood springs a surprise.

Wherever a government goes after a popular opposition as if they represented the devil - as Zanu-PF seems to believe about the MDC does - the consequences can be catastrophic.

Mugabe's contempt for the MDC, and particularly for its leader, is mystifying. What does Tsvangirai represent, in Mugabe's psyche, bred in the Marxist-Leninist revolutionary cauldron of the "dictatorship of the proletariat"?

A Western Trojan horse? The equivalent of the antiChrist to his John the Baptist?

Doesn't Mugabe believe Tsvangirai loves his country as much as - or even more - than he does? Does he believe what motivates Tsvangirai is only a poodle-like desire to serve "masters" Britain and the US, to say slavishly to Gordon Brown and George W Bush "Yes, Mambo!", as they pat him on the head?

Therein lies the tragedy of Zimbabwe and Mugabe. I once argued with him that if a Zimbabwean received money from the Germans to run an independent radio station in this country, there would be nothing wrong as long as they told the truth. "But the Germans would control it, of course," he told me.

Jacob Zuma, the ANC president, spoke positively on the Zimbabwe crisis this week: the delay in announcing the presidential results "did not augur well".

If he wasn't trying to upstage the man he humiliated in the ANC leadership stakes last year, then we must applaud him heartily.

"Quiet diplomacy" brought us to this crisis, if you want to be serious.


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