It is difficult these days to write an article about Zimbabwe without also reeling in the name of it’s incumbent President and Africa’s oldest President, Robert Mugabe. Now this is not an uncommon fact for any country as leadership does determine a great many things in any society, but mentions of President Mugabe are often riddled with a kind of incredulity, numbed anger and definite wonder about the man himself and the Zimbabweans who have been continually subjected to his rule.
Spouting dangerous declarations at each turn and displaying even more shocking actions, Zimbabwe’s President Mugabe is probably also Africa’s most controversial leader as well as its oldest. At his unbelievable birthday bash which has obviously taken us quite a while to process; considering that it was said to have costed a whooping $800,000, just a few weeks after an application for $1.6 billion in food aid to combat starvation, following a declaration by President Mugabe himself that due to the still present drought, Zimbabwe was in a “state of disaster”, he didn’t fail to deliver one of his inciting speeches.
While the severe drought continued destroying crops, depleting reservoirs and leaving thousands of cattle dead, the President reveled in the celebrations around him, then got up on the stage to declare unequivocally, that Zimbabwe would not accept foreign aid if it was attached with an expectation of marriage equality for the lesbian, gay community.
He said; “we don’t want it”, under that condition it is “rotten and filthy”. This part of the speech was not entirely baseless as you would recall that back in 2011, UK Prime Minister, David Cameron threatened countries violating the LGBT rights with a withdrawal of aid payments in the absence of reforms and President Obama had also instructed that gay rights be a criterion for US aid allocations to needy countries.
Zimbabweans also from history are not entirely in disagreement with their President on the issue of gay rights as homosexuality is often perceived as a taboo in the socially conservative country, but and this is a large but, this declaration was made on the stage of an $800,000 funded birthday party. For this reason, it does not reek of the self-preservation dignity that must be attached to that sought of statement, it does not say “I and my people would rather die than have this abomination foisted on us”. Instead it appears more like a display of the arrogance of a President who would rather his people starve for the sake of a moral standing ovation.
Maybe President Mugabe should have directed all that money to import maize for the starving Masvingo province where his party was held, or any other part of the country for that matter. Maybe he should have made this declaration while handing out this maize to the starving populace. Maybe as his stance was just barely upheld by his recognition of the suffering of his people, foreign bodies would be moved with obvious compassion for the plight of the people and the humanity of President Mugabe and abandon their own stance on gay rights momentarily to rush to their aid. Maybe all this is just the anger of outsiders and the Zimbabwean people like their President Mugabe really do not need “rotten and filthy” foreign aid.