Turmoil in Southern Africa

The great and the good are meeting again in Davos this week to discuss what to do for the world. To my mind, it is all a bit of a farce but earlier in the week, they brought out what is known as the Edelman Trust Barometer. This is basically what the citizens of different countries think of their respective governments.

I don’t suppose it came as a surprise to my fellow displaced Africans but Cyril Ramaphosa’s government in South Africa came last in the table, to be rated the least trustworthy on earth – and that by some distance.

It would seem that only twenty percent of South Africans trust their government and I don’t know where they found that twenty percent. Closest nation to South Africa in the untrustworthiness stakes is Spain and they have a whopping thirty percent.

The survey – apparently the biggest of its kind globally with thirty four thousand respondents – was conducted between mid-October and mid-November last year. Now in its twentieth edition, it recorded how the SA Government’s trust ranking slumped into the bottom slot during the Zuma era, with only similarly scandal-wracked Brazil keeping it company.

Under its new president, Brazil has left the South Africans behind and at thirty nine percent is now well clear of the relegation zone. How much of that improvement is due to the ongoing success of the anti-corruption, Operation Car Wash or Jair Bolsonaro’s leadership wasn’t mentioned. But it does show Team Ramaphosa what’s possible.

Rainbow ruddy Nation indeed!

Further north across the Great Grey Green Greasy Limpopo, Zimbabwean woes deepen by the day. Unsurprisingly they were not invited to the recent UK – Africa Investment summit held in London last Monday.

During this self-congratulatory – on both sides – bun fight, leaders from twenty one African countries were treated to a reception at Buckingham Palace, hosted by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Crocodile Mnangagwa was notable by his absence, but as I said, he was not invited, even though my little country was once the food bowl of Africa.

Harare’s response to this diplomatic snub was to describe Britain as ‘no longer an investing global power’ and send the Crocodile on to the next and larger bunfight in Davos, inevitably in another private jet, hired for the occasion. I mean, the politicians of Zimbabwe can’t be expected to travel like ordinary citizens!

Mnangagwa has recently boasted of a deal with Russia, trading precious minerals for military hardware. That hardware will come in handy to further subdue an increasingly restless and angry population.

At the moment, Zim is verging on destitution. The United Nations special rapporteur (where do they find these grandiose titles?) on the right to food, Hilal Elver spoke in terms of man-made starvation when she estimated recently that sixty percent of the population is ‘food insecure.’ I know Zimbabweans are gentle and peaceful people, but how much longer can they take this?

Ms Elver’s statement has proved frighteningly accurate as many Zimbabweans are fortunate if they can find one good meal every two days. World Bank estimates currently show that five point seven million Zimbabweans are living in extreme poverty. It costs a hospital doctor more to get a bus to work than they can earn in a week and unsurprisingly most of them are currently on strike. The head of their Doctors’ Association Peter Magombeyi was abducted from his home last year and after he was ‘found,’ the authorities would not allow him to go to South Africa in order be treated for suspected poisoning.

These people are doctors damnit. Ordinary people need doctors but are being deprived of their services so Mnangagwa and his considerable entourage can fly around the world in private jets. A tiny proportion of the money spent on their international junkets would provide doctors with a liveable wage.

And it is not only the doctors. Last week, public servants went on strike for a day. They want pay rises too as their earnings are disappearing under an inflation rate of five hundred and twenty one percent and rising.

Those who dare to protest are met with uncontrolled brutality from a police force that is underpaid, under-trained and desperate for survival. When there is nothing more to lose, starvation drives people to new levels of courage – or thuggery.

Over the past few months, there have been increasing reports of killings carried out by the waShurugwi — a gang of twenty year olds with nothing who are killing with machetes anyone who has anything. This started with the murder of itinerant goldminers in the Midlands but in the past few days, the waShurugwi have spread from rural areas to the suburbs of Harare.

The public fear of these horrible little thugs has not been helped by photographs showing that among the disguised killers are members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police. So many of us were proud to be members of that force, but over the years it has degenerated into a corrupt and useless shambles.

When he was foreign secretary in 2018, Bunter Johnson said he would give Mnangagwa a year to improve human rights and get the economy working before there could be any consideration of the readmission of Zimbabwe to the Commonwealth. Huh! As things stand today, the whole country is fast becoming a human rights disaster.

How long will Britain and other members of the Commonwealth, as well as the United ruddy Nations stand by and watch Zimbabwe, with all the potential and promise of its well-educated populace and abundant natural resources, make a violent descent into mayhem?

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