by Tichaona Zindoga
THE world has been caught in an extraordinary storm following United States President Donald J. Trump’s reference to Haiti and other African countries as “sh*thole” countries. The term is considered derogatory and many people believe that Trump was being racist in using that vulgar term with reference to African countries, while he suggested that America ought to accept immigrants from countries such as Norway.
The contrast is clear: Africa is black and Norway is white, by race and wealth.
Africa is the poorer.
Poverty is considered bad and in certain countries, including America, the attitude towards the colour black is negative, that is, symbolically and physically.
Many Africans were hurt by the remark, even when Trump did not mention many countries by name, and many people were not sure exactly whether Trump referred to a physical amenity of waste or a part of a person’s anatomy.
But American ambassadors have in the past week been summoned to explain the remark — which Trump now disowns — and protestations have been recorded with countries, blocs and individuals demanding answers.
Sadc and the African Union registered their displeasure.
Expectedly, social media platforms have been agog in people’s reaction.
Some people have been ragingly angry, others defensive, while others have been ambivalent.
In Zimbabwe, which may not even have been Trump’s idea of a sh*thole country for its distance and perhaps negligent number of problem immigrants, the pattern has been similar.
An interesting sub-plot in this debate has been how those who are not happy with the way their countries are run by Governments and leaders, or are not patriotic even, have hyped up and celebrated Trump’s comments.
As such, a divisive and polarising war has raged.
However, it is rather superfluous for Zimbabweans to be detained by and lose sleep over Trump’s alleged racist slur.
It is common knowledge that Donald Trump is racist and has done very little to mask that fact.
In the run up to his election in November 2016, he rode on a racial platform on which he preached white supremacy over the baseness of black Americans and Hispanic peoples.
He became endeared to the conservative, sometimes uneducated white people who accounted for the majority of his votes.
He is the face of white America, the America that he promised to make great again.
It is an almost Utopian and pure America of white people, hence Trump’s aversion to darker skinned people like blacks and Mexicans.
He may as well want them killed.
Incidentally, a picture of Trump with his parents wearing Ku Klux Klan gear, has been circulating.
It should not surprise anyone.
That is Trump.
He is also vulgar, uncouth and unrefined — and he doesn’t care: perhaps he could say that he doesn’t give a sh*t about what we think.
No one will change him.
This should be the least of Zimbabwe’s worries.
Rather, more substantively, Zimbabwe ought to worry about what US policy towards the country is and this can only be appreciated in the next 60 days. Between February and March the President of the United States renews Executive Order 13288, the sanctions policy that was begun by former President George W. Bush.
And last year, in one of his final actions in office, just a week before Trump took office on January 20, Obama said in a statement: “I have sent to the Federal Register for publication the enclosed notice stating that the national emergency originally declared in Executive Order 13288 of March 6, 2003, and renewed every year since then, is to continue in effect beyond March 6, 2016.”
“The threat constituted by the actions and policies of certain members of the Government of Zimbabwe and other persons to undermine Zimbabwe’s democratic processes or institutions, contributing to the deliberate breakdown in the rule of law, to politically motivated violence and intimidation, and to political and economic instability in the southern African region, has not been resolved.
“These actions and policies continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the foreign policy of the United States. For these reasons, I have determined that it is necessary to continue this national emergency and to maintain in force the sanctions to respond to this threat.
“Therefore, in accordance with section 202(d) of the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1622(d)), I am continuing for one year the national emergency originally declared in Executive Order 13288.”
We have argued to town and back about these sanctions and their justification. Harare likes to call them illegal, including the mother legislation called Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act.
All the same, this policy is value-laden and it is also known that America is friends with some very nasty regimes, monarchs and murderous rulers to whose level Zimbabwe would never sink.
Obama and Bush Jnr before him were just being hypocritical in touting “democratic processes or institutions” and rule of law, and human rights as excuse to punish Zimbabwe.
We cannot vouch for what Trump would have done in his first few days in office.
It is an office, which was reeking so strongly of Obama and his poisonous politics of the Democrats under the rubric of the so-called value laden politics.
Some of us are happy that we were never fans of that little devil called Barack Hussein Obama.
His toxic politics, which could have been worse had Hillary Clinton succeeded him, helped maintain a stranglehold on Zimbabwe.
Obama renewed sanctions on Zimbabwe for the duration of his tenure.
Trump, as we are likely to see in the next couple of months, may extend these sanctions.
Yet it is easier to take it from a racist bully like Trump.
He is like Dickens’ roaring lion as compared to the smooth and varnished Devil like Obama.
Trump can come out openly and tell us what he doesn’t like about Zimbabwe and that forthrightness is good.
It’s far more useful than the deceptive values that little devil Obama hid behind.
So, in the coming days, Zimbabweans ought to worry more about the material issues that will be presented by the Trump administration.
We have a new administration of President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his man at Foreign Affairs is Lt-Gen S. B. Moyo (Rtd) of the transactional diplomacy fame.
It will be naïve to expect miracles — even when they are known to happen — but Harare may take significant cue from what the Trump administration will do with the odious Executive Order 13288 and later Zidera and we are sure that some groundwork to engage the Americans has already been made.
It is far easier to suspend the Executive Order, which is a decree of war, than a whole congressional process needed for the removal of Zidera.
These are the things that should be worrying Zimbabweans rather than some careless and vulgar expletive from a man known to often run short of etiquette and common decency.
The real sh*t is coming!