via Civil Society reacts to Mugabe’s funeral diatribe by Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition
Addressing mourners at the burial of Retired Air Commodore Mike Karakadzai at the National Hero’s Acre on Sunday 25 August, President Robert Mugabe gave credence to the old adage that old habits die hard when he threw a hissy fit and haranguing the West, threatening Western companies with restrictions and disowning the residents of Harare and Bulawayo.
Mugabe, who is notorious for turning burial ceremony speeches into ranting sessions by going off tangent and taking a swipe at his enemies, real or imagined, raised the ire of ordinary citizens, civil society members and had economists sounding the warning bell on the consequences of his reckless utterances.
Without departing from his anti-West script, Mugabe on Sunday said he was fed up with being “harassed” by the British and the Americans before issuing a veiled threat to place restrictions on Western companies, a stance which analysts say could repel foreign investors.
Civil society leaders have reacted variously to Mugabe’s remarks with Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) Director, Jenni Williams saying she was “disgusted” by the President’s remarks particularly in threatening to disown residents of Harare and Bulawayo for not voting for his party. Said Williams: “He (Mugabe) must know that if he was inaugurated as the President of this country then it means that he is the President of every citizen not only those that voted for him. We fully intend to hold him and his Government accountable as residents in Bulawayo and our members in Harare will certainly do the same.”
Williams said Mugabe might be in need of refresher course in democracy as his remarks were at odds with the most rudimentary concepts of democracy and leadership.
The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition Spokesperson and Director of Bulawayo Agenda, Thabani Nyoni said that Mugabe’s remarks only served to prove the level of his consistency in churning out hate speech. In concurrence, Director of the National Youth Development Trust (NYDT), Liberty Bhebhe said although it was improper for a President to think that his office serves only those who voted for him such conduct was to be expected: “His remarks are not surprising at all because we do not expect anything from him or from his Government because Bulawayo has been marginalized under Mugabe’s rule for a long time and we will survive by the grace of the lord.”
However, Media Centre Director, Ernest Mudzengi said that these utterances should not be taken at face value, stating that: “The President was making a political statement and not a policy statement as far as I can tell”.
With the pending burials of party founder and former cabinet minister Enos Nkala as well as politburo member Kumbirai Kangai who both died last week and were declared national heroes – Mugabe will have to conduct himself in a way befitting his position or face more backlash from infuriated citizens.