BELARUSIAN President Alexander Lukashenko (largely regarded as Europe’s last dictator) is under siege from hundreds of thousands of demonstrators in his country who want him to vacate as a leader for what they say were rigged elections in August this year.
Lukashenko has been in power for an uninterrupted 26 years.
Opposition political parties in Belarus are now fed up with his authoritarian rule and have blamed him for all the socioeconomic and political rot in the country.
But the Belarusian president (who ‘romped’ to victory by 80 per cent) has refused to budge, going on to ask Vladimir Putin of Russia to help him quell the internal unrest.
Switch over to Zimbabwe…
Just like his Belarusian counterpart, Lukashenko, President Emmerson Mnangagwa has described as fictitious the claim by many Zimbabweans of “unbearable socio-economic and political problems” in the country.
He said this while responding to the possibility of South Africa intervening to help resolve the political deadlock in the country.
For starters, to many neutral observers, the Zimbabwean economic scoreboard does not read good, with most pointers in the red zone.
The year-on-year inflation rate for August, for instance, as measured by the all items Consumer Price Index, stood at 761,02 per cent.
This is a terrible economic outlook for any country outside a war zone.
Compounded to this, Zimbabwe has about US$8 billion external debt, with domestic debt alone hovering above ZWL12 billion, according to the Finance ministry.
In view of the above economic hardships, it would be unthinkable for Mnangagwa and his colleagues in government to describe problems besetting Zimbabwe as imaginary and unreal.
On the political front – members of Parliament, journalists and human rights activists – have recently been incarcerated and charged with espionage.
ZimRights, a local human organisation, reportedly recorded about 820 “human rights violations”, including arbitrary arrests, assaults by State agents, attacks on journalists, abductions, “gunshot assaults” and dog bites between the end of March and now when the COVID-19 lockdown was introduced.
Recently, journalist Hopewell Chin’ono and Jacob Ngarivhume got detained for over a month and refused bail by what others have described as a captured judiciary.
Member of Parliament for Zengeza Job Sikhala has steadfastly be refused and remains incarcerated at Chikurubi Maximum Prison.
Yet, in all these abuses by the State on citizens, the Government of Zimbabwe maintains that the country’s problems are a mental construct, emanating from opposition politics.
Zim Morning Post asked MDC Alliance spokesperson Fadzai Mahere what she thought about Mnangagwa’s view:
“Is the hunger of 8.6 million Zimbabweans imagined?
“Is the pittance being paid to civil servants as a salary imagined?
“Are the bodies that end up in morgues because of lack of access to basic healthcare imagined?
“Suggesting that the poverty and hardships that prevail in this country are a construct of the opposition betrays just how out of touch Mnangagwa is with the lived reality of Zimbabweans.
“To reduce the nation’s plight to opposition fantasy betrays a leader who has long departed from the lives of those he purports to lead.”
A former Alpha Media Holdings Editor-in-Chief who did not want to be named rebuffed Mnangagwa, saying he was trying to hide by finger:
“He is hiding behind the finger. We have several crises – political, economic and social.
“Calling them challenges is a mere euphemism.”
This publication also sought comment from University of Zimbabwe political scientist, Eldred Masunungure, on the issue:
“Mnangagwa can clearly see what most Zimbabweans are privy to; that there is a problem of mammoth proportion in the country.
“By saying problems in the country are imagined, Mnangagwa is trying to block moves by South Africa, the region and international community to find a lasting solution to issues that have bedevilled this nation for about two decades.
“South Africa should, therefore, not be deterred by Mnangagwa and his Zanu PF.
“After all, South Africa feels the heat coming from Zimbabwe’s toxic politics more than any other country in the region.”