One of President Robert Mugabe’s enduring characteristics has been his declared hatred of most things British and to a lesser extent all things Western. He portrays Britain as the mother of all evil and ascribes Zimbabwe’s economic failures to the machinations of the British. Britain is his perceived arch-enemy and number one nemesis.
Masola wa Dabudabu
As part of his hatred, Mugabe has made loud noises about disengaging himself from British influence. He has appointed himself, almost in cult fashion, to the role of spokesman for all anti-British activists. He has grown to be recognised as the most vociferous Presidents in highlighting Britain’s well-documented colonial exploits. Mugabe will seize any opportunity to blame Britain’s 90-year colonial stint in Zimbabwe for all the problems that afflict his country. This is despite him being continuously on the helm since British rule was dismantled after a protracted armed insurrection.
In one of his well-publicised efforts to seal the dissolution of all ties between Zimbabwe and Britain, Mugabe famously implored on the then British Prime Minister Tony Blair to “keep your Britain” and “let me keep my Zimbabwe”. That was definitive in so far as it was a bold statement indicating that Mugabe was ridding himself of all manner of things and ways British. This bold statement of intent triggered some of his acolytes to make a lot of noise advocating for the teaching of Mandarin in Zimbabwean schools.
For once, the wholesale cleansing of all colonial vestiges appeared to be truly in the offing. Indeed some of the inherited customs make most Zimbabweans look ludicrous, stupid and hilariously out of sync with their colour, nature and texture. In this regard the ceremonial wigs adorned by Speaker of Parliament and members of the Judiciary come to mind.
For some reason Mugabe tactically backed off from taking radical steps to eliminate all the colonial vestiges. He was gripped by a fear of losing all the privileges and trappings of power that attend from the British influence. He could not fathom himself missing out on the sombre ceremonies influenced by British colonialism. His ambivalence has resulted in his open and passionate despising of Britain while he privately continues to conduct himself in a manner that is wholly-scripted by the British. He loves all things British and shows his undying love by keeping British vestiges, traditions, customs and etiquette within reach of his tentacles.
One of Mugabe’s favourite pastimes includes copycat State ceremonies that ridicule the poor souls that feature in them. In Mugabe’s domain, British inspired ceremonial activities take precedence over-locally inspired ones. Mugabe would go out of his way to have them for his pleasure. This boosts his low sense of esteem and it makes him feel important and accomplished.
The recent ceremony to mark the annual opening of Parliament was a copycat rendition of procedures at West Minster in preparation for “the Queen’s speech”. The Zimbabwean chapter was replete with colonial activities. Unfortunately things did not go as planned when Mugabe read the wrong speech en-route to irreparable political damage. The President misfired big time. He read a speech he had delivered three weeks earlier instead of one outlining proposed legislation and policies and setting out the government’s agenda for the year ahead. Sadly some Zanu PF parliamentarians praised him for giving a brilliant speech. The rest of the nation stood agape as the satirical exploits of the Emperor parading himself in a suit that is invisible only to the unwise unfolded in their eyes.
This is not to say that Mugabe should not have presided over the official opening ceremony. The whole issue was so alien and so un-Zimbabwean. Somewhere somehow things got mixed up as secretaries tried to keep up with an alien culture. The poor secretaries may have had no knowledge of the difference between a State of the Nation Address and the opening of a new parliamentary year. The situation may have been made worse by secretaries born and bred in deep Uzumba-Maramba-Pfungwe or having been plucked from deep dark Madlambudzi area in Plumtree in an effort to pacify the so-called uneducated Kalangas. Again it is a matter of speculation.
No-one disputes that parliamentary procedures in Zimbabwe are replications of the system used in Westminster. Over the last 35 years there has been no attempt to align the protocols to the express needs of an independent Zimbabwe thanks to Mugabe’s love-hate relationship with British systems. Whereas Mugabe has professed an eternal hatred of the British acts of colonisation and enslavement, he has failed to disentangle himself from his inborn and inbuilt love for their way of deportment. He has failed dismally to cleanse himself of his internally ingrained desires to see, act, think and perceive issues as if he was British.
If Mugabe truly hated all things British, he should naturally be disgusted by such blatant continuation of colonial practice, but alas, he is positively immersed in the love of British legacy. It is such undying love for colonial vestiges that will take him down if his senility fails to do so first.