Robert Mugabe: A leader in denial

It’s hard to imagine an economy in worse shape than Zimbabwe’s. The country, which is having aShelves
presidential election on Saturday, was once the bread basket of Africa. Nowadays, few people get to eat bread, even if they have a ton of dough.

The Spar supermarket has bread at only $7
million a loaf. People rush to the shelf duly marked $7 million, but by
the time they reach the till with their hyper-inflated Zimbabwean
dollars, the price is up to $25 million.

That equals just 62 American cents, more than a
teacher makes in a week. "How can we afford to eat that?" a woman
exclaims. Customers leave their loaves at the counter and walk out with
their brick-sized bundles of bank notes, angry and disconsolate. [Link]

Question: What do you call a Zimbabwean man who wins $25 million in the lottery?

Answer: The breadwinner of the family.

President Robert Mugabe has helped drag his country’s economy into the ditch, but he nevertheless  hopes to return to office, apparently believing that, even at 84 years of age, he still has enough energy to dig a deeper ditch. "Let’s give him a chance," his supporters seem to be saying. "Twenty-eight years isn’t enough."

But does Mugabe really want to turn things around? He seems to think Zimbabwe is doing well as it is.

Mugabe rarely gives interviews to independent journalists but spoke
for two-and-a half hours to Heidi Holland last December for her book,
Dinner with Mugabe.

She concluded that Mugabe was profoundly
out of touch, surrounded by sycophants too scared to tell him the truth
about the dire state of Zimbabwe.

When Holland suggested that
the economy was in a mess, Mugabe angrily insisted that Zimbabwe was "a
hundred times better" than most African countries.

"Outside South
Africa, what country is like Zimbabwe?" Mugabe said. "Even now. What is
lacking now are goods on the shelves, perhaps, that’s all.
But the
infrastructure is there. We have our mines, you see. We have our
enterprises." [Link]

Do you know what Americans would do if they went to the grocery store and found the shelves bare? They’d barbecue the president for dinner.

Then again, Mugabe meat may not taste as good as Bushmeat.

Photo by Sokwanele

If you enjoyed this piece, you'll love Melvin's novel Bala Takes the Plunge, available in North America through Amazon.com and McNallyRobinson.com You can also find it at major bookstores in India and Sri Lanka or online at FlipKart, IndiaPlaza, FriendsofBooks or other sites. A number of readers have written reviews of the novel. An excerpt of the novel can be read here.

Comments

  1. Viorica Munteanu says:

    All dictators seem to be in denial, at least our Ceaushescu was. And may be you know what happened to him and his wife: the people rioted (some chanted on the streets, “let make Ceaushescu our Christmass dinner”), they fled and were captured and, after a swift trial, were executed just at Christmas time.
    The shelves in my country were also empty, now they are full. Some people cannot afford to buy, but that’s another story, no society is perfect or fit for everyone.
    May be there are some who regret Ceushescu’s time, but the majority don’t.
    Viorica from Romania

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