Mugabe birthday celebration – a story of greed

As the guests disperse and return to their normal lives, guest blogger Chamu analyses the presidential birthday bash held in Masvingo.

Mugabe birthday boy

Mugabe birthday boy

While watching the President’s 92nd birthday celebrations on ZBC at my friend’s flat, a heated debate erupted. My friend Joe, the unrepentant pro-government flag waver, thoroughly defended our President’s decision to throw a lavish celebration, even as the rest of the nation wallow in drought. I, the pragmatic accountant, and the voice of reason in our partnership, argued how such a celebration was a waste of the tax payers’ money. We argued until the lights went out – Zesa always has the final word!

Mugabe birthday – my thoughts

After Mugabe birthday - a woman gathers cake crumbs

After Mugabe birthday – a woman gathers cake crumbs

When I got back home, without Joe’s sentimental opinions in my ear, I pondered the whole issue about the President’s annual birthday party and government’s financial conduct in general. It took me back to another contentious issue where I had joined the twitter outrage over Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko’s three-hundred-day stay at the luxurious Rainbow Towers at tax payers’ expense. I vowed if ever I made it to parliament, I would do things different.

If I ruled Zimbabwe

Now as I imagined what it would feel like being referred to as Minister Chamu, I began introspecting: Placed in the same position would I not be guilty of the same crimes of greed? Would I really act differently?

If I was an MP or president in our government. Would I say no to owning acres of farming land? I surely would, or maybe probably but then again I want to safeguard the future of my son and reclaim what rightfully belonged to my forefathers. So maybe I would take a hectare or two.

Corruption, nepotism, greed

My jobless cousins and sisters; would it be fair to neglect them. A desk job in the Ministry would go a long way in changing their lives.

How could I also refuse the latest Mercedes Benz E Class as part of a government package? The car has traction and stability control systems and nine air bags for that extra protection in case I am involved in a dangerous collision. The people cannot lose their leader.

How about an all-expenses paid holiday trip to Asia? I have never been on an aeroplane in my entire life. Would I attend, if invited to attend a conference at the Elephant Hills Lodge in Victoria Falls? Even if the government’s bank account is in the red? Definitely, I am not staying behind!

Would I therefore turn down a lavish celebration of my birthday with my supporters when in these trying times, the nation needs a celebration?

Corruption – everybody has potential

I then realized that it is easy to justify such exorbitant spending. I realized as much as I might criticize our government, I have the potential to commit similar acts of greed.

Closer to home, I thought about my own conduct and the behaviour of many of my friends at buffet meals. We would be first in line filling our plates, shoving muffins into pockets if possible and taking all the delicate meats on offer. If second helpings were offered, we’d still stuff more food into our mouths until the dishes were clear. If any drinks were left over, we’d carry six-packs with us as we headed home.

When I thought about it, I realized I could not criticize our president for the vice that I also have.

The cause of African greed

Greed is something that most of us are guilty of, myself included. The root cause goes back to colonialism. Our people were oppressed for so long that the moment we got power and access to resources, we wanted to take as much as we can and hold on to it for as long as humanly possible. Now greed is a problem that we individually and collectively have to combat. Perhaps if we can defeat it, we can end corruption, misappropriation of funds and inequality. There is still hope for Zimbabwe.