Wake up Mr President, Blair is in the past, and remains there

Tony Blair

DEAR President Emmerson Mnangagwa,

Your Excellency, with all due respect, it was an abasement for you to be ecstatic on meeting former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. As I see it, your beatitude over meeting him in Kigali, Rwanda, on the sidelines of the recent Africa Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) 2022 Summit was largely disgraceful, and was without a parallel.

All the hype about the chemistry and significance of the meeting was structurally overblown. It could not have been a diplomatic breakthrough. No, not at all. Pity, you cast for yourself the imagery of an altar boy who unexpectedly stumbled into the vicinity of the Pope.

It was below the Presidential norms that your handshake with Blair caused you celebration and contentment. It never dawned on me that you would ever acclaim a meeting with him as a diplomatic bridgebuilder. Methinks it was not an icebreaker by any stretch of imagination.

Given that Blair has long been out of office, he primarily no longer has the mandate of governmental policy decision-making. His current station on the international forum as a former British Prime Minister does not stand him in any diplomatic stead to vouch for you.

He left office in 2007. A number of prime ministers came after him — Gordon Brown, David Cameron, Theresa May, Boris Johnson and now Liz Truss.

His applauding you for your leadership and commitment in fighting hunger on the continent was not an exoneration of the repression and economic meltdown.

His commendation was in specific tandem with the spirit of the AGRF Summit. Your Excellency,  Blair is aware of the diminishing democratic space, amplified by presidential threats to shorten the lives of opponents. He laments that the country is no longer the breadbasket of the region.

Although he is veritably eminent, Blair is not of the influence you seem to altogether ascribe to him. Actually, a member of the British House of Lords, Kate Hoey, equated his association with you to a mockery of fundamental democratic tenets.

“What on earth was Tony Blair doing so close up and personal with the human rights abuser? Zimbabwean people need help to ensure free and fair elections next year, not support for a neo dictator,” fumed Hoey.

Methinks it is an indication of dire desperation on your part that you look forward to meeting Blair again in Egypt, on the sidelines of the  forthcoming 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference.

Yet, it was plainly obvious from the outset that your engagement and re-engagement policy was destined to gather more chuff than wheat. Apparently, prospects of building harmonious international relations recently took a turn for the worst.

As I see it, your temerity to appoint an ex-convict to spearhead the foreign and international trade policy was a blatant disregard of integrity. Coupled with the audacious appointment is the effontry negation of implementation of reforms, the progressive community was bound to shun you.

Your Excellency, granted, you have been in government since 1980. Methinks it is time you earnestly considered retirement. I state it respectfully that as you count down to your 80th birthday, it is opportune time you set yourself free from the national harness.

A poem about an old lion, coincidentally your totem, is particularly pertinent. It says: “Life is short.  Power is ephemeral. Physical beauty is short-lived. I have seen it in lions. I have seen it in old people. Everyone who lives long will become weak and vulnerable at some point.”

It is my fervent conviction that if you were to bid for a second term, it would be a pauper’s victory should you win.

Given the mental and physical demands of the Presidential diary, methinks midway through your re-election, the spirit may still be willing, but the flesh will be altogether tired. Consequently, it is prudent to be psychological and physically tuned up to be retired, now.

Duly, probity warrants you to avoid a recurrence of deposal as that of the late former President Robert Mugabe. His faculties crumbled as the ageing process took a toll on him. He even lost his famed trademark oratory.

It is against this backdrop that your declaration in July that you will be in power beyond the 2023 harmonised elections numbed me. An outpouring of chilling shivers gushed down my spine, rendering me momentarily mortuary frozen.

Speaking at the ground-breaking ceremony of a planned Cyber City project in Mt Hampden, Harare, you declared to be there, in charge; overseeing that everything is running smoothly until the project is finished.

As I see it, the declaration is not consistent with dictates of corporate governance. It is an apparent violation of the essence of succession. Methinks your self-assurance was haughty. It must have been a likewise assumptive attitude which Victorian era author William Shakespeare roundly reproached: “How insolent of late he has become, how proud, how peremptory!”

Although the initial phase of the project is expected to be completed in two years’ time, an atmosphere of accomplishment nonetheless set your heart aflame. God-awful, you had the audacity to brazenly implore the gathering to pray for the fruition of the vision.

“The people who are here, you are the first to see this vision. Each one of you must pray for this vision coming to fruition. As for me, I know that I will be there until the project is finished and overseeing that everything is running smoothly. I will be in charge,” you declared.

It is impractical, to all intents and purposes, for Zimbabwe to be open for business, if developments were to be dependent on an individual. Methinks national development is a mutual collaboration on the basis of citizenry collective participation.

Your Excellency, the duplicity of your visit to the Kigali Genocide Memorial was disdainful. It was duly condemnable for you to pay tribute to the victims of the Rwanda civil war, on the backdrop of government inexpediency on processes for Gukurahundi massacre closures.

Methinks declassification of findings on atrocities, the Dumbutshena Report on Entumbane, Connemara and Ntabazinduna (1981) and the Chihambakwe Report on Matabeleland and Midlands (1983) could signal earnest commencement of the closures.

Granted, the statement that perpetrators of the Gukurahundi massacres were pardoned was as insensitive as it was hurtful.

Your Excellency, jostling for photoshoots with eminent people does not enhance your standing and that of the country. As I see it, it was with utmost good faith that President Paul Kagame implored you to stop pretending that things are shaping up in Zimbabwe.

Essentially, probity warrants you to heed his counsel.

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