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"We will never forget you, young man! We will complete the task you left us with!" Radical Soldier (Mufaro Stig Hove)




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Tuesday, July 31, 2007



Dear President Robert Mugabe,

Sir, I am tempted to address you as 'Your Excellency' but I don't want to lie.

I love you, though.

And I'm sure you have never doubted that, have you?

Enough of that!

I still have those pictures I took of you in the late 70s when you visited us students in the United States. You came looking for money but now you are printing it in your backyard.


You spoke about freedom - One man, one vote, self-determination and all that nonsense. Oh, you looked just right: rugged, weather-beaten and tired as if you were a real freedom fighter.

The yokels in the US actually thought you were in the forefront of the fight, dodging Ian Smith's gunfire with as much ease as you kill your citizens today.

When you became Prime Minister, those same yokels, in unexplained euphoria, put your name forward for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Oh, Bob, you are better than a chameleon.

We wish we didn't know now what we didn't know then. I still have memories of my visits to State House, remember? Once, a diminutive female operative in your security detail tried to stop me from chatting with you although I was there by invitation.

She was very protective of you, sir. Her name was Margaret and you did not promote her. Might as well not have because she soon discovered you were no good and left your employment.

She formed her own political party and harassed your stooges in parliament. Remember pocket-sized Margaret Dongo?

Surely, you remember Bob; she is the one that Solomon Mujuru wanted to demolish in Parliament after she publicly voiced that all male ZANU PF parliamentarians were your wives.

Even today, Bob, they remain as spineless as chocolate ├ęclairs. Dear old Solomon is retired now and is busy counting the bundles you allowed him to make.

Ironically, Solomon is now using your money to see that his wife Joice replaces you. To my knowledge, you and Joice are the only ones who have never been out of the cabinet since Independence Day in 1980.

You at least achieved disaster but Joice has never achieved anything. And she wants to lead who?

Anyway, as I was saying, I still have memories of my visits to State House. The tea and the biscuits were out of this world, literally.

Your wife was such a gracious hostess. I mean your real wife.

I enjoyed the late Sally Mugabe as a news subject and as a mother. She almost tolerated democracy better than you, Sir.

She hid her bitterness well after the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) saved her from imminent defeat when my late sister, Julia Zvobgo, challenged her for the leadership of the Women's League at that scandalous congress.

Sally was always nice to us since we always brought those old Thompson television cameras with us. Well, a gracious hostess she was although she rapped me on the knuckles once
That's when I found out that Sally didn't like us editing her speeches or paraphrasing them. I also recall your visits to the television studios at Pockets Hill, a place you made sure was staffed by most who knew less.

Professionals were shoved aside in favour of those kids who you were with during the war. And I see one of those kids now represents you here in Botswana. He is now called 'His Excellency.'

And I have a nuisance of a relative who prides himself with a photograph of you and me shaking hands and mumbling something to each other in 2004 when you came to pay your respects at my sister's funeral.

I welcomed you well, didn't I?

But only a few months later did your CIO goons pick me up in Masvingo, accusing me of defilement because I had written that the late Edison Zvobgo was better than you in every respect.

Your goons intercepted the article twice but I still managed to get it to my editor (Zimbabwe Independent, September 10, 2004). They detained me in your name for four hours, Bob.
They didn't give me tea but they told me that it is illegal to compare you to anyone. They also warned me to stop writing about your wife Grace.

And do you recall when ZTV suspended me after I took a bit too long to remove my cap as you stood right behind me in the Harare International Conference Centre during the Non-Aligned Movement meeting of 1986?

It was sneaky of you to materialise behind me in the auditorium as I was bent over assisting the crew with the television cables.

The bumpkins in the gallery reacted to your sudden appearance and started singing the national anthem catching me off-side. I tried to deny the charges but, with you as witness, I had no chance.

Television footage strangled any further arguments. It was two weeks without pay. That was serious. You should have tapped me on the shoulder, Bob.

And, years later, why was I "asked to resign" from the broadcasting service, Bob?

At that time, there were certain political realities that made it rather difficult for them to fire me without your knowledge, especially since, earlier on, you had personally directed that I be part of the trinity sent to China.

(The trip and stay in China were superb; thanks).

Or should I just ask 'His Excellency' at the embassy here in Botswana? He is a former workmate and, given his ties to you, might give me the scoop. Ah, well, forget about that.
Let's talk about you for a change. For the first time in a long while, I see pictures of you with genuine smiles. I thought maybe you were just happy to see people suffering because of your ill-advised decree on prices.

Then I thought maybe you and the young lass are expecting another unnecessary one.
Then someone told me you are smiling to yourself all the time because your nemesis, Archbishop Pius Ncube, is reported to have been caught with his cassock up around his waist.

And you offered to pray for the Archbishop. You are only crying over Pius Ncube's wounds because you are trying to get some salt into the wounds, aren't you?

You are throwing a drowning man both ends of a rope, Bob. But you need to be a little careful though. When it comes to infidelities and people's wives, don't you think you should keep clear?

It sounds so much like a president the world has heard about. This president, we are told, had an affair with someone's wife as his own wife lay dying. He then went on to marry the woman and seduced a Catholic Archbishop to solemnise the marriage.

The Catholic Church, of which I am a member, latent as I may be, disappointed me and millions of others by assisting this president in wrecking someone's marriage.

No wonder the Vatican is paying millions to men and women abused by priests in California. But why do they have to abuse anyone, Bob? Can't they negotiate like you did?

Well, even if the reports about Pius Ncube are true, it does not make you any better. Commenting on Ncube's alleged transgression is drawing attention to the origins of your own marriage.

I am your man on the doorstep, Bob, and am advising you to keep mum on Ncube's alleged transgression because you are reported to have done worse.

Anyway, keep in mind that Pius Ncube is not Zimbabwe and the people's attention is not going to be diverted from removing you. You, Bob, are the grim problem, not Ncube's escapades.

Don't read too much into Ncube's misdemeanour, Bob. Ncube is human, just like you and me. He is only one of millions disgusted by your rabid behaviour and if he faltered, it does not mean you are any better.

Unlike you, Ncube is not accused of murder and human rights violations or crimes against humanity. Nevertheless, which is better: Ncube's skeletons in the wardrobe or skeletons in your mineshafts, Bob?

Now let me whisper in your ear: You are squatting in the vegetable garden, Bob; manure is not applied that way!

In our Karanga folklore, we have a proverb that says that only old people are afraid of the sound of sticks breaking, for they fear it might be any of their fragile old bones giving in.
The meaning behind it is that 'only the guilty are afraid.' I note you now hear twigs breaking all the time, Bob. I am sorry but the sound you hear is not folklore.

Your time is up, Bob, and the world, not Pius Ncube, is out to get you. I am, Your man on the doorstep.

*Tanonoka Joseph Whande is a Zimbabwean writer based in Botswana.

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