When power politics trumps virtue

HARARE - President Robert Mugabe took his family to the inauguration of Pope Francis at the Vatican recently.

Mugabe has often been described as a “devout” Catholic.

One would assume he met the costs of his trip. Even when invited, still one cannot justify a taxpayer-funded visit to such occasions.

Zimbabwe is a secular State. Non-Catholic taxpayers cannot be expected to fund a trip for a president and his family to fulfil personal religious convictions.

Not all Zimbabweans are Catholics.

Mugabe attracts attention and he is aware of it. Cameras will be trained on him. International media reports made it a point to single him out as present.

Ever since he was “anointed” the voice against neo-colonialism by fawning African rulers, he has obliged with heightened tendencies of attention-seeking.

He has hardly passed up an opportunity to travel to places he is not wanted.

The visit to the Vatican gave Mugabe the opportunity to thumb his nose at Europe which has imposed travel restrictions on him.

The Vatican is, of course, not bound by decisions of the European Union. But by virtue of geographical location, however, Mugabe was as good as in a European country, Italy.  

If this jaunt was motivated by attention-seeking, then we have little to gain from an ego-trip.

If the trip, however, helped our president renew his faith, then we will — hopefully — be better off it at these uncertain times.

Zimbabwe, while secular, does not resemble a State with a leader inspired by precepts of Catholicism.

Standing avowedly for the right to life, peace, justice, equality, among other desiderata, encapsulates Catholic doctrine.

Zimbabwe does not quite enjoy these. It is even more puzzling when Mugabe would rather mourn Muammar Gaddafi than people murdered in his country.

Perhaps not so perplexing if you consider that attention-seeking trait; mourning Gaddafi is likely to grab international headlines.

It is a different approach at home.

Other than on the death of Christpower Maisiri, Mugabe has been indifferent or vague on unnecessary loss of human life as was the case with his passing reference to a “moment of madness” regarding Gukurahundi.

While he was away, the forces of darkness were at work, arresting officials of his coalition partner Morgan Tsvangirai and a lawyer. Civil society groups seeking to expose violence have been under siege.

A State organisation trying to unravel corruption is under attack.

Yet by Mugabe’s own admission violence and corruption — vices Catholicism would condemn — are problems plaguing the country.

Then you have this vilification campaign against Justice Charles Hungwe.

A case has now been dug up and dusted; apparently Hungwe didn’t sentence some alleged murderer some ten years ago. And now we have the Zanu PF-aligned media posing as paragons of justice by feverishly advancing the interests of this alleged murderer.

Hungwe may have erred but all this belies the real cause for this campaign.

Hungwe, a war veteran no less, gave orders in favour of the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) and the detained lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa.

To Zanu PF, what goes against it does not qualify for justice. It calls for vengeance, racking up a judge’s past and siding with an “unfairly” treated alleged murderer.

Power politics tends to eviscerate virtue.

Ordinary congregants speak of regular encounters with some Zanu PF government ministers and senior officials at places of worship.  

Given the self-inflicted misery on our nation, these ordinary church-goers, back home, must wonder ceaselessly whether these politicians worship the same God.

Apart from Vice President Joice Mujuru who, at times, exhibits behaviour mediated by religiosity, the rest seem to be wolves in sheep’s clothing.

These are people content with the deceptive cover of labels of, say, “Christian” or “Catholic” and so on but lead public lives shockingly inimical to the expected moral rectitude.  

Look out for these power-seekers feigning piety at our places of worship this coming Easter.  

Power and religion do not have an honest mix; the former almost always trumps the latter.

When a politician claims he was chosen by God to be a leader, frown.

For religion has tended to provide a convenient veneer for the selfish pursuit and sustenance of power. - Conrad Nyamutata

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