Leadership: Africa's dilemma

HARARE - Years ago, in Zambia, I witnessed a moment of intimacy and warmth between two people — then President Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia and his then special aide, my former editor-in-chief at Times Newspapers, Milimo Punabantu.

Kaunda asked Punabantu, a short, rather plump man, if he could “prepare our special dish”. It was a diabetic treat for the two of them, two men living with that disease.

Punabantu went ahead without hesitation. He is late now, but Kaunda, a much older man than Punabantu, is still going strong, now retired from politics and bed-ridden for some time. Don’t discount the fact that he didn’t retire voluntarily or because of illness.

He was defeated in a free and fair election. This occurred years ago, beaten by a short trade unionist named Frederick Chiluba, now late.

Like our own Robert Gabriel Mugabe, Kaunda was born in 1924, only a few months later. James Baldwin, the great American-African crusader for his people’s rights, was also born in 1924. Was it, generally, a good year for African and African-American politicians? I’ve often wondered.

But seriously, this piece is about Africa Freedom Day, which most conscientious Africans and even African-Americans may not celebrate with unrestricted merriment.

Why would any of us celebrate with any robust merrymaking? Our people are butchering each other over what some people might describe as, basically, stupid issues.

The major issues are, of course, poverty and internecine butchery. The cause of all this is the grossly selfish leadership.

How many people would dispute that and place the blame on Western sanctions or Western lack of concern for the plight of the people of the continent, among the poorest and sickest people in the world?

If you were the generous lot you would pick at least one exception. What would that be? Perhaps that they die without crying too much about it, because they have run out of strength to cry harder or for longer than necessary?

What is wrong with the African leadership? A cold, analytical study of the current crisis in the Zimbabwean leadership would provide very useful ideas, not particularly related to any sort of political erudition, but to the whims and wiles of a young lady, accorded the privilege to “change things”.

Along the way, she fell sick herself and had to be treated for long. She has now recovered — so you’d better watch out again! She could soon be on the rampage again.

When you read the story of the two men who are Robert Mugabe’s vice presidents, doesn’t it make you sick to your stomach to know what they are quarrelling about? Who is the genuine number two to Mugabe?

This is what preoccupies them — not the collapsing economy or the non-payment of civil servant salaries.

It was a relief, for me and many others, that the leader of the football association, Cuthbert Dube, was finally relieved of his post although there are contentions to his ouster — after a long time, during which there seemed to be no power on earth robust enough to remove him from the top Zifa perch.

Why are other people, sitting on top positions and doing precious little to advance the country in any way, still in their positions? Mind you, it is well-known that they too have been sitting on their haunches and doing precious little to deserve to be where they are.

Like Dube, they were said to be protected by powerful people. Some of these people included the most powerful person on the land — the president himself. I hope this was not a joke of some sort. 

    Comments (1)

    Pliz , spare us . I expected a lot of flesh in your story . Usadaro so mhani

    Amai Mandigona - 22 May 2015

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