We were part amused, part annoyed — well largely — by a report in one of our local publications yesterday in which former Botswana President Festus Mogae was said to have “uncharacteristically called on President Robert Mugabe to ‘stop hiding behind sovereignty’, while abusing people and to accept gay rights.”
The former president does not specifically name President Mugabe.
However, the paper, NewsDay, would have us believe that Mogae is referring to President Mugabe when he says: “Sovereignty has limits like any other right. A leader cannot kill and harass his people and hide behind sovereignty.
“A true leader does not kill, but protects his people. . . We still have leaders in Africa who think they are indispensable, larger than life and more important than their countries. That must stop. If a leader loses control, the world will and should intervene to save the people.”
President Mugabe has not patented talk of sovereignty — has he — and even Rwanda’s Paul Kagame has been raising that card after external opposition to his third term bid, which is within his right, like everyone else.
Else for leaders thinking themselves more important than their countries — that is mere conjecture, especially for a democratic polity like ours whose people have chosen their leaders — and the one leader, President Mugabe.
While it may be convenient for his detractors to try and cast President Mugabe as a dictator — or worse — the reality is that the tag has not stuck, especially so like the proverbial medicine that won’t work where there is no open wound.
And happily, President Mugabe has not lost control of this country to necessitate “the world. . . (to. . . intervene to save the people.”
This shows us that Mogae had someone else in mind — perhaps a Muammar Gaddafi — not President Mugabe.
It is up to the fertile imagination of NewsDay and its little old man, one Richard Chidza, who is known for such excitability and hatred of the ruling party, he being an opposition MDC-T activist.
In fact, it has been generally felt that the NewsDay did not do itself and its credibility a favour by hiring this chap from across town where common decency is an ill-afforded luxury.
If our Chidza had common decency, could he write with a straight face that a former leader of another country had “called on President Robert Mugabe. . . to accept gay rights”?
A Mogae problem
Who is served by the so-called gay rights? Certainly not Chidza, NewsDay or us?
Which becomes a problem not of our friend, Chidza.
It’s a Mogae problem.
Let’s hear him talk about the so-called gay rights: “It’s not surprising that we appear to be speaking from different corners of the mouth. Differences in opinion are welcome. . . In my long interaction with LGBT (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transsexual) groups and extensive research, I have come to the realisation that we are limited in our knowledge and must be open to new discoveries. I have been converted; I used to hold the same beliefs as my counterparts.
“President Mugabe has said that he hates homosexuals and is on record as saying they are worse than pigs and dogs. That is still his position.
“Leadership is not always about you, it is about people and often circumstances. I call upon African leaders to open up to second generation rights.”
We know that his conversion has come about because of filthy Western donor money.
It is because of money that he has been forced to abandon his principles.
This is a disease that afflicts people who are driven by donor money and the need to be endorsed and sustained by Western countries, which, as Mogae correctly points out, are out to foist their agenda on Africa.
It is a pity that a senior statesman like Mogae would cheapen himself like that.
Yet he is not alone.
Sell-outs and turncoats like him abound on the continent and in the world at large.
These are the kind of people that will sell their birthright for a mess of pottage.
What a shame!
But we are gladdened by the response of the Information Minister Chris Mushohwe.
He gives us a perfect riposte and does go on to hint to us on the psyche of the likes of Mogae.
He responds to NewsDay regarding the story: “I read it, he did not mention the President by name, but if indeed he was referring to President Mugabe, it is unfortunate. He said it while he was in America, maybe he wanted to please the New Yorkers.
“Why does he wait to be in America to say it? Why not say it while he is in Africa? He was here a few days ago, why didn’t he say it? If he couldn’t do it here, he could have said it while in Botswana.
“That is the problem with most African leaders, they think if they are in Europe, they are Europeans, if they are in America, they are Americans.”
Need we say more?
There is something darkly magical that Western soils and hospitality does to some African minds.
We recall one Morgan Tsvangirai doing the same thing sometime in 2011 when he was interviewed on BBC.
“It’s a very controversial subject in my part of the world,” he said at a time the country was drawing a new constitution.
“My attitude is that I hope the constitution will come out with freedom of sexual orientation, for as long as it does not interfere with anybody. To me, it’s a human right,” he said.
Quite expectedly, this drew a lot of ire back home, even among his own supporters.
Tsvangirai had to back down again when he came home.
Something had gotten into his mind the moment he was feed in Europe — and it’s very typical of all sell-outs.