Archive | August, 2014

Of Ebola, Africa’s riches and misguided leadership

27 Aug

The Ebola virus continues to wreak havoc in Sierra Leone, DRC, Liberia, Guinea and possibly other African countries with no end in sight. As this calamity continues, some of the beleaguered African countries have started asking questions on the responsibility of other developed states, the UN and so on to come to their assistance. As a response to this outbreak, very tight travel bans have been imposed by numerous countries all over the world barring outbound flights from the affected countries. Clearly, this would not have gone done well with the affected countries as this affects economies and trade and generally places the countries in bad light. Sierra Leone’s senior government officials have come out guns blazing calling on the travel bans to be lifted by the African countries. I am of a different opinion. Rather than shout and scream at counterpart African countries for the travel quarantine, the Ebola affected countries must take this disaster as a time to reflect on how their riches can alleviate poverty in their own backyards, deal with the Ebola virus, and how their leadership has let down their citizens.

The first question that the Ebola affected countries need to ask themselves now is why they are suffering so much amidst so many riches in diamonds, rubber and other natural resources in their own countries. The money from these natural resources should be directed towards economic and social development but alas, half the time it is pilfered by government officials through corruption and spent on other unnecessary expenses which do not in any way contribute to the development of the said countries.

Ethical questions will be raised about the Western pharmaceutical countries which seem to have discovered and developed cures for this deadly Ebola virus on why they are not releasing the drugs to be tested on patients and so on. The same questions have been asked before about the HIV/AIDS virus. There are and can be very simple answers to such questions. These Western private companies are in business and they need to realize some sort of return on their investments. African governments through regional bodies and the African Union must now start asking important questions on how they can tap into these already developed research institutions by either building their own disease research and control centers. The other alternative is to build funds, kitties or whatever they might be called to contribute to the already established Western efforts. There might be no need to reinvent the wheel for the African initiatives. There has been talk about establishing research centers in Guinea or the center is already there but these systems need to start functioning and bringing out results.
More importantly, African governments at a political level through the African Union or their regional bodies such as ECOWAS, IGAD, and SADC etc. need to ask each other questions around their health, education, food and other related policies. It is one thing to sit and talk about how the West and China is screwing African countries but ignoring the fact that Africa has more riches and wealth which can be channeled towards these developmental activities. Pleading bankruptcy and lack of funds is now a tired story which is very boring and in some instances a mockery of African citizens’ intelligence. Misguided statements from senior African Government officials like the Sierra Leonean Ibrahim Ben Kargbo (Special Adviser to President Koroma) trying to threaten other African countries for not standing by them in their times of crisis should not be tolerated. The African Union and other African progressive governments for example like Kenya and South Africa need to ask these same countries tough questions on what they are doing to tame such crises in their own backyards. Africa cannot continue blaming other people for its own problems. In any case, other African countries have lost so much business from cancelled flights and goods that have not been delivered to and from the affected countries.

At a domestic level, clear problems of governance emerge. It defies logic to understand how and why communities would attack health centers where their own relatives were being treated. It shows a clear lack of communication and awareness from the government. A clear correlation exists between the lack of knowledge, education and poverty in the instances where Ebola has wreaked havoc in most of the communities in the affected African countries. It therefore becomes imperative that social programs to ensure that communities get enough and proper education so that they are lifted from the poor conditions they live in becomes very necessary.

At some point, there were blockades in some parts of Liberia and Sierra Leone. These were purportedly meant “to protect citizens from themselves” according to President Johnson Sirleaf. Fair enough, people were attacking health centers and bolting with the sick patients thereby exposing whole communities which could have caused a national disaster. So in instances like these, why would it not be fair for other countries to impose bans on people travelling from the same Ebola affected countries?

In a more misguided fashion and typical of failed leadership, most Libyan senior government officials had to be barred from travelling outside the country for one month. This was after there was an upsurge of them fleeing the country going to neighboring and overseas countries. That could not have been right! What kind of leadership is that? Ethical and leadership questions need then to be asked. If the countries such as Liberia plead poverty and bankruptcy when it comes to finding solutions or alleviating the plight of citizens affected by this disease, how then is it possible that at the spur of a moment hundreds of government officials and civil servants who clearly have access to government resources through corruption and privilege can purchase tickets and afford to live out of the country?

Clearly, diseases know no boundaries and thus any threat to these African countries should be considered a threat to the rest of mankind therefore calling for collective attention. However, Ebola again though difficult to treat has been in existence since the 1970s and the affected African governments have known this state of affairs. Bar the negative effects of wars and other devastating natural calamities, Africa must strive to come up with its own defense mechanisms to such problems. It is not good enough for the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sierra Leone Ebun Strasser – King to note that Ebola “took us by surprise and met us when we were ill prepared for it”.

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ZANU PF factionalism, crankpots, fascists and sellouts according to Mutsvangwa

22 Aug

ZANU PF factionalism, crankpots, fascists and sellouts according to Mutsvangwa.

ZANU PF factionalism, crankpots, fascists and sellouts according to Mutsvangwa

22 Aug

So Chris Mutsvangwa has decided to go on a trailblazing attack of his peers in ZANU PF calling them all sorts of names (putchist crankpots with no appreciation of statecraft, … ambitious coterie of political chancers; lumpen elements with criminal intent; Nazists with post-Rhodesian political agenda”) claiming to be a better and real hero than most. Well, I guess ZANU PF being the “democratic” party it is; everyone has a right to free speech and expression. However, no matter how much he tries pummeling this trick of attacking his peers from the other faction it will not work as the trick only serves to confirm to every Zimbabwean that ZANU PF and its members are not as invincible as they seem.

It is also trite to note that whatever stunts this Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and war veteran is pulling are only useful in so far as they demystify the perceived powers the untouchables in the party seem to have in the eyes of the rest of the nation. Beyond that, the misguided utterances by Chris Mutsvangwa are mere empty vessel like affirmations of trying to forcefully remind Zimbabweans that ZANU PF and any of its factions have a right to rule Zimbabwe until donkeys grow horns.

Of course, anyone in the right mind would be happy to see people like Didymus Mutasa, Mumbengegwi or Obert Mpofu put in place by their peers in that party. ZANU PF has some senior members who you would think that they were given a free reign of Zimbabwe from God. Thus anyone who gets to demystify their supposed false entitlement to their grip on Zimbabwe should be given a thumbs up.

My beef with Chris Mutsvangwa’s utterances are numerous: There is an implied assumption from his remarks to his colleagues that there are bigger, better and more real heroes than others in ZANU PF and in the country. This cannot be true. Every other Zimbabwean who lived during the period of colonial settlement and occupation contributed to the liberation struggle in one way or the other. Others crossed the border to fight the white men, others became logistics supporters, thousands of women and girls cooked and sacrificed a lot during the struggle. Recently however, there have emerged stories of the real heroes of the struggle. ZANU PF and Chris Mutsvangwa need to disabuse themselves of the idea that the liberations struggle was theirs and theirs alone. To continuously trumpet these views is precisely meant to revive a false ZANU PF rhetoric that ZANU PF’s the only party entitled and supposed to govern Zimbabwe.

The plot gets even crazier when the ilk of Mutsvangwa start questioning the other members’ supposed achievements during the struggle. Honestly, who downed what chopper, threw what grenade and shot what sellout should really now be a matter left to history books. What about the doctors who cured comrades who were sick, what about the young women who were raped in the bush – what are they supposed to say. Are they not heroes too? Even those who were in exile or in foreign lands (London, Moscow, Algiers, Dar E Salaam) most of them where there to advance the liberation causes. So what nonsense is that that they did not participate in the struggle?

Furthermore, when the valiant attributes and contributions of the ZANU PF comrades are being questioned, it seems like the attackers or the enlightened in ZANU PF like Mutsvangwa conveniently turn a blind eye to issues like corruption, crime, etc. How come in these attacks no one is ready to give us a tale of what happened to Cde Mujuru; Rashiwe Guzha, Josiah Tongogara, the diamonds corruption in Marange etc. or even simply try to give solutions to the problems bedeviling ZIMASSET. Next time, these loud mouthed ZANU PF want to attack and question each other, include more issues pertinent to Zimbabweans rather be conveniently selective.

I’m sure President Mugabe laughs his way to bed every night from the unsolicited impromptu comic acts his lieutenants pull every now and then.

Zimbabwe should not and cannot be a ZANU PF colony forever!

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