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Just how low has Zimbabwe sank?

25 Jan 2024 at 14:30hrs | Views
A country's state media is always a window into the government's psyche and mindset.
It is like a reflection of the particular nation's soul.

So, in spite of the insufferable torture one goes through in watching Zimbabwe's state-controlled broadcaster, I try not to miss the news bulletins for a peek into government thinking.

In order to understand the condition of the country and where we are heading, one needs to study the state of mind of those in power.

This afternoon was no exception.

As I sat down to watch the ZBC lunchtime news, these were the top two stories.

Firstly, we were excitedly informed of an impending visit by Cuba's Vice President Salvador Valdes Mesa to Zimbabwe.

He is expected for a three-day official visit, during which he will meet with President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa.

In the report, the Cuban Charge D'Affaires, Ambassador Yenielys Vilma Regueiferos Linares met Zimbabwe's Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Frederick Shava in preparation for the visit.

This was followed by a news report on the purchase of Zimbabwe's second operational plane - a twin-engine 50-seater Embraer ERJ-145.

Again, the procurement was packaged as a sign of development in the country - whereby the national airline, Air Zimbabwe, was said to be on the rebound.

At first glance, there may seemingly be nothing wrong with both these stories.

However, for some of us, there is everything problematic.

Why would a visit to Zimbabwe by another country's vice president be headline news on national television?

As if that was not bad enough, why would a vice president be meeting our own president?

Is this not an unequal yoking?

I could not help imagining if last year's visit to Egypt by Zimbabwe Vice President Constantino Chiwenga made similar national headlines in that country.

So, why all the hullabaloo we are witnessing here with that of the Cuban Vice President.

In fact, a quick internet search reveals that the Egyptian media's response was quite muted.

It was as if Chiwenga was not even there.

In addition, whilst in Egypt, Chiwenga never met President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi - but instead visited the Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly.

That made more sense since Chiwenga meeting El-Sisi would have rendered Zimbabwe superior to Egypt.

This is what we witness in relations where one country is more powerful than the other.

For instance, when the Russian Foreign Affairs Minister Sergey Lavrov visits Africa, he meets with the respective states' presidents.

As a matter of fact, that is exactly what happened in July 2022, when Lavrov met El-Sisi on his visit to Egypt.

However, here we are talking about Cuba - a fellow so-called 'Third World' country.

Why, on earth, is Mnangagwa hosting the Caribbean nation's vice president

Are we to conclude that Zimbabwe is the junior partner in this relationship?

How low has the country sank?

Do we still have any self-respect on the global stage?

Or, have we become so desperate for friends - on account of our pariah state and international isolation - that our leaders are prepared to stoop to any depth to please their foreign guests?

This brings me to the other news report on ZBC, which further reinforces this notion that Zimbabwe is swiftly sinking in stature.

So the procurement of a 50-seater Embraer ERJ-145 twin-engine plane is headlines news?

This is a country that used to boast of 18 aircraft at independence in 1980 - which plied such routes as Harare to London.

Yet, due to rampant corruption and gross mismanagement, today, the airline only has two functional planes - including the recently added Embraer ERJ-145.

What then is there to make national news headlines?

Are we seriously celebrating owning two operational airplanes when we used to own 18 only 43 years ago?

Is the most logical thing not to honestly introspect on how, as a country, we have sank this low?

How have we found ourselves in such a humiliating situation?

Were we not one of the most prosperous countries on the continent - the so-called 'jewel of Africa'?

Nevertheless, here we are bragging over owning our second plane!

Actually, when Ethiopian Airlines began operations in 1946, they only had five aircraft (Douglas C-47s).

Nonetheless, today, they have a fleet of 145 modern planes, servicing 155 passenger destinations.

Why could we not grow from the 18 at independence in 1980?

Should we not have been a continental aviation giant by this time?

Again, I ask: Just how low has Zimbabwe sank?

Is that why now Mnangagwa is meeting with leaders of other countries who are of lower position?

Is this an acknowledgment of our diminished global stature?

© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice advocate and writer. Please feel free to WhatsApp or Call: +263715667700 | +263782283975, or email:, or visit website:

Source - Tendai Ruben Mbofana
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