​Dear Mugabe, it really is time for you to quit

Zimbabweans want the president to go, given his legacy of institutional and economic collapse.

COMMENT

Dear President Robert Mugabe,

It is with a heavy heart and a trampled soul that I write this letter to you. Our beloved country that you have presided over for the past 36 years was once the breadbasket of Africa but has declined to become the laughing stock of the world. People of the older generation have become so nostalgic, after our hard-fought independence, that they reflect warmly on the time of Ian Smith — yet they cry tears of blood for the younger generations whose potential has decimated beyond conceivable redemption.

Mr President, the best time to leave a stage is while the audience is still applauding, but you choose to be oblivious to this fact. No one can take away your remarkable achievements of the past but unfortunately you keep stroking your ego with monotonous reference to the long-gone successes of your marathon rule.

There are a multitude of degrees on your CV so anyone would expect better judgment from you. Instead, the whole world watches in awe at your incredible ineptitude. What baffles me the most is how and why you fail to accept that you have run your race.

I know for a fact, Mr President, that you have never thought this country can have a better leader than you. But succession is imminent because of your advanced age. You have stifled this natural phenomenon for too long but the vultures are lurking.

The cracks in your party have become too difficult to disguise. It could well be the rejuvenated citizens’ voices which threaten to throw your beloved party into oblivion.

Be warned, Mr President. Even the indestructible Titanic sank. The Greatest, Muhammad Ali, could not beat Parkinsons. Mount Everest was conquered by man. The mighty Muammar Gaddafi died at the hands of “cockroaches”. Nelson Mandela left in time to become one of history’s most respected statesmen.

Mr President, you have overseen a noble and highly moral land reform programme but it is punctuated with chaos, confusion and a lack of transparency.

The findings of a land audit, which you authorised, were so damning that it never saw the light of day. Multiple farm ownership, which is illegal, is rampant — and your family and comrades are the most culpable.

Your former reserve bank governor, Gideon Gono, promulgated a farm mechanisation programme, which saw heavy agricultural equipment being looted by inactive farmers, at the taxpayers’ expense. I gather that another hastily arranged mechanisation programme is on its way.

The haphazard approach to such a fundamental sector defies logic. This country has lost its breadbasket status.

It is disheartening that we find ourselves importing grain from agricultural minnows such as Zambia, while vast tracts of productive land lie fallow under the title of your cronies.

Our health sector has not been spared either. At the slightest sign of infirmity you and your lot are quick to board the plane to be treated in other countries and leave millions of Zimbabweans to endure shambolic hospitals that have little or no medicines and derelict equipment. Medical personnel are poorly remunerated and highly demoralised. Sons of the soil with the best medical brains are finding sanctuary all over the world because of the uncertainty surrounding everything that this country is.

Once at the apex of African enlightenment, our educational institutions and standards have deteriorated drastically.

There is no more proof of this than you and your lot sending your children to study at foreign institutions. Millions of parents are unable to send their children to school; even teachers cannot afford to send their children to the same schools they work at. Students are prostituting themselves to survive at universities, which are churning out thousands of graduates, who have no prospects of getting a job. Unemployment has risen to more than 90%.

Mr President, corruption is ubiquitous in this country. This monster thrives in the private and public sector. It has become institutionalised as demonstrated by the unbridled behaviour of the police force and the vehicle inspection department.

Virtually all government departments are under siege from corrupt personnel but your self-appointed Anti-Corruption Commission does not know that they exist. We even have local outlaws who enjoy executive and party protection from investigation and prosecution.

You have spoken more than you have acted on this cancerous issue, Mr President. The wide web of corrupt officials seems too scary to tackle lest the hunter becomes the hunted.

Mr President, while you and your mammoth retinue were globe-trotting for no apparent benefit to the populace, the country was looted of a cumulative figure of US$15-billion worth of diamonds. Everyone froze when you made this announcement on television. No one has been held accountable.

You have goaded everyone close to you into embracing our Eastern friends, who have had a hand in looting not only diamonds but other resources.

These “all-weather friends” of ours have found a dumping ground for sub-standard commodities. They are the chief culprits in shipping dollars out of this country.

They have pushed us out of retailing, which the law states is a preserve for locals, Mr President. You gloat about this friendship but I know they laugh at it. Such desperation for friendship; do they love us as much as we do them?

Mr President, your unilateral withdrawal from the Commonwealth has only yielded negative results. Apart from the obvious loss of international business, ordinary Zimbabweans lost opportunities in sport and other Commonwealth-related benefits.

Your recent utterances about pulling out of the United Nations are a shock to the nation. You do not know what reform is yet you want to preach United Nations reforms — your hypocrisy is bottomless.

You even labelled other African leaders cowards but these leaders apply diplomacy in international relations. They are not as angry with the West as you are. I see your anger stemming from Western imposed travel restrictions that you call sanctions. But being prevented from shopping at Harrods cannot be the basis for your pseudo-radicalism and tired anti-West rhetoric.

The topical issue of bond notes has caused widespread panic.

Being a country without a currency has set us on a path of economic uncertainty. The much-needed foreign direct investment is in hibernation as investors evaluate the high risks. This, coupled with an opaque indigenisation policy, has done no good for the prospects of economic recovery.

People are cringing and cowering at the possibility of a return to the vagaries of the last decade. Citizens wonder how an elephant can be equated to an ant.

People fear the flight of commodities from shelves. People fear a return of the hyper-inflation of the last decade. People fear the disappearance of the United States dollar from their bank accounts. People fear the return of a thriving black market. Hard working people fear the loss of their investments.

These fears have been bouyed by the pessimism expressed by our captains of industry and commerce. And little has been done to allay those fears, Mr President.

Even though wisdom does not necessarily come with age, I urge you to reconsider your “nomination” as the sole presidential candidate of your party in the 2018 plebiscite. I implore you to spare this beloved country of ours from further harm. Thirty-six years is a lifetime.

I sincerely hope you will not dismiss my letter as part of a foreign-sponsored regime change agenda. I dread to go the Dzamara or the Mawarire way but I could not suppress the urge to let you know how I and millions of other patriots feel about our predicament. Merry Christmas, Mr President.

Yours truly,

Fellow villager. — African @ali_naka

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