Obama's powerful rejoinder for Zim's big men

HARARE - Very few things demonstrate more poignantly why democracies such as America’s deliver much better for ordinary citizens than US President Barack Obama’s illuminating interview with Zimbabwean student Takunda Chingonzo at the just-ended, and exceedingly successful US-Africa Business Forum in Washington.

Here was the world’s most powerful leader by a mile, fielding rather taxing questions from a 21-year-old student and rookie ICT entrepreneur, and not taking any umbrage at all.

In fact, the down to earth Obama did not just answer Chingonzo’s probing questions in full, he went a long way to try and put the young man at ease, and to offer possible solutions!

How so exemplary and endearing. Let us take a step back and contemplate the same scenario in our motherland. Yes, imagine the consternation in official circles if the same young man were to put it to the Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, His Excellency President Robert Gabriel Mugabe that the West’s targeted restrictions are not the cause of Zimbabwe’s worsening economic problems!

US President Barack Obama takes part in a conversation with Takunda Chingonzo, Co-founder of Neolab, during the US-Africa Business Forum in Washington, DC.

Chingonzo, a National University of Science and Technology student and co-founder of SaiSai Wireless, suggested to Obama that the targeted restrictions were hampering efforts by Zimbabwean business people to engage their American counterparts, as some US businessmen perceived such engagement to be discouraged.

Obama calmly and empathetically explained to the rookie businessman the difficulties of balancing America’s twin objectives of nudging Harare to respect human rights and trying to achieve this without impacting negatively on ordinary Zimbabweans and business people.

To this end, and in view of Chingonzo’s concerns, America would consider meeting Zimbabwean business people to devise ways that would ensure that the targeted measures did not end up punishing the very people inside the country that were supposed to be protected by the restrictions.

But as expected, the usual official and propaganda quarters in Zimbabwe moved swiftly to claim that Obama “admitted” in this interview that the sanctions were not targeted — which is patently untrue.

It escapes these hired guns that in celebrating Obama’s non-existent “admission”, they expediently overlook the fact that Chingonzo is unlikely to ever dream about, never mind have a meaningful opportunity to question this forthrightly our president, or any of his myriad minions for that matter, on these kinds of critical issues — because the requisite democratic space and culture simply don’t exist here.

If anything, the truth of the matter is that Chingonzo would, at best, be accused of being a lackey of whites or the “evil” West if he tried it here, or worse still, would potentially find himself in big trouble — as in opening himself to outrageous interrogations and persecution.

To drive the point home, one simply has to consider the recent arrogant and vexatious performance in court by a senior member of Cabinet, who either refused to answer pertinent questions put to him by counsel or was full of buffoonish sarcasm when he chose to “indulge” the court with answers. To the huge credit of the presiding judge, and our men and women on the Bench in general, this offending bigwig was rightly called to order. And very importantly too, Zanu PF’s lickspittle bootlickers are never willing to analyse properly the real dynamics of Zimbabwe’s tortured political economy.

Indeed, which Western company or national in their right mind would contemplate pouring big money into a project in our country when at any time soon afterwards authorities can arbitrarily decide that 51 percent of that investment must be “indigenised” into the grubby hands of politicians and their lackeys?

The Chingonzo-Obama interview also demonstrates starkly, for the umpteenth time, Zanu PF’s embarrassing predilection to always blame someone else for its evident corruption and misrule.

Things have become so bad that even when our politicians burp from over-indulgence, as they always do, they are wont to blame sanctions!

It is insane.

Comments (14)

How so true this opinion is. Our leaders pay lip service to democracy and only when it suits them. So we end up with this ridiculous situation where our people are freer to interact with foreign dignitaries than they are with our leaders. Its pathetic.

Khumalo - 8 August 2014

good comment but unfortunately ours are not democratic leaders but autocrats the arrogance of Obert in the court says it all

magezatsvimbo - 8 August 2014

Our leaders should learn to understand that there is what is called constructive criticism. You learn from your mistakes so that you can be able to guard yourself against such in future. Good leaders like Obama welcome criticism and find ways to overcome their shortcomings amicably. Systems should be balanced by taking into account the interests of everyone who has a legitimate right in the affairs of the country, and respecting their rights and views. Obama is a true leader, the same cannot be said about our own Mugabe.

Nechikonyo - 8 August 2014

Zaire was renamed ''DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO'' (DRC) ages before any elections were ever held. And how could our president be invited to a democratic summit when he himself is an enemy of democracy, the worst African leader ever??? Of course his usual bootlickers will always defend him, foolishly though.

DUWATUWA - 8 August 2014

Sanction do affect ius all, it only the dim and those with no business acumen that don't understand and accept the propaganda. Obama did effectively admit thiat sancyions affect us saying that it was difficult to taget or direct sanctions where they wont hurt the innocent . Sanctions need UN security cleasrance which has never happened there fore they are illegal was wel. It is iunfortunate that we don't have local hjournalists capable of research

john - 8 August 2014

John go undovhiya mbudzi. Those are targeted sanctions and by saying they are hurting Zimbabwe we are admitting that we are dependent on america so if we are then we should respect what they expect of us. The innocent suffer because they keep the targeted people in power. Whoever votes for a monster called Zanupf is not innocent anyway, they are accessories to rape, murder and torture so cannot claim to be innocent.

Maita Manyuka - 8 August 2014

What a lot of spineless individuals we have in Zimbabwe! So scared to call a spade - a spade. Obama & his America are the world's bully boys responsible for all the upheavals in Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, Ukraine. etc. Through ZIdera, they have stolen proceeds of our sales of diamonds and other exports. They continue to destabilize our economy causing chaos. Now we have all these house niggers praising Obama and condemning Zimbabweans!!! You treacherous lot!!!

mageja siziba - 8 August 2014

Mageja, the way you talk tells us who you are. You will fight against change to keep your ill gotten goods.

Tiger Shona - 8 August 2014

You can tell who is a burping Zanoid numbskull, as described by the Daily News writer, just by reading the comments above.

Musorodamba - 8 August 2014

What lovely satire on the Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, His Excellency President Robert Gabriel Mugabe! It aptly shows the tyranny we Zimbabweans labour under. For others it is simply President Obama!

Kt - 8 August 2014

@Maita Manyuka - there is a need to keep to the facts - look in the mirror. lets deal with crinme properly including MDC crime. Harare South next to the golf course all villagers were murdered including women the elderly and babies - eyes removed and mouths and eyes filled with Sadza. The next morning MDC banners were hung on the boundary fence - the message was don't report our terrorism to the police what you see us do, don't speak about - they said it was in retaliation for reporting planned violence in town. The answer is you continue with your propaganda and we take those monsters who kill babies to jail- as with your attitude all you want to do is cover up MDC violence and murders. As you are a bit dim I will attempt in the vein hope its possible to educate you - there are sanctions against Russia and counter sanctions against the EU - they hurt the EU and Russia . think about it slowly sio it sinks in - it costs money to impose sanctions, if they didn't work its like saying all the western countries are stupid wasting money, because you think they don't work. How dim can you get! A pregnabnt church ladty refused to be pressured into an MDC supporter - taken from a mini bus covered in petrol and burnt alive. When you point the finger at Zanu using propaganda be careful because your own crimes may be exposed with evidence.

john - 9 August 2014

the problem here is clear, most of our people aren't involved in any international business so they don't know or understand how these sanctions affect the ordinary man like me. I've had to register my firm in Malasia just to get around the sanctions. That being said the reporter was right that the same questions this boy asked Obama cannot be asked our leadership without losing your life for it but as far as sanctions are concerned, they are real my brother. America is the devil himself and they will soon destroy us all. If ever you get a chance to travel you need to visit Iraq and see what destruction they have caused there.

Vashe - 9 August 2014

If Obama can talk to a 21-year old aspiring businessman, why can't Mugabe sit down and talk with local businessmen/women to find solutions to the economic problems of our country? The answer is simple: arrogance. All dictators try to kill those who have ideas which can develop the country. It is only their dictatorial ideas which matter, and that leads to the collapse of those dictatorships.

Chenjerai Hove - 9 August 2014

If Obama is such a breath of fresh air, then mUgAbE is gamatox. Look at the difference. A 21 year old foreign business person is allowed to get a little aggressive with the most powerful man on earth with no consequences. Not only did he gets a logical well thought answer but solutions were offered too. Get ugly with mUgAbe and you know the zanoids will be singing the "Batai munhu" chorus. African leaders still have lots of ground to cover.

Joe Matipa - 9 August 2014

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