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Robert Mugabe's health is no laughing matter

18 Jan 2014 at 21:21hrs | Views
We have said this before and feel it is important to say it again: loose and unfounded social media gossip about President Robert Mugabe's supposed death is in very bad taste and must be condemned in the strongest of terms by all right-thinking Zimbabweans.

Despite Mugabe's spokesperson George Charamba confirming this week that the First Citizen was well and completing his annual leave at his Borrowdale home in Harare, the slew of unfortunate speculation around the 89-year-old's health continues unabated - to the obvious pain of his family and detriment of the country.

It is true that like most mortals, our long-ruling leader is neither a saint nor a universally-liked man. Indeed, the mere mention of the name of the only man to have ruled Zimbabwe since the country gained independence from Britain in 1980 elicits mixed reaction.

On the one hand, his followers adore him to bits and swear by his liberation credentials and deemed principles.

On the other, his many detractors only identify him with pain and misrule - and cannot wait to see the back of him.

Still, this is no reason why anyone, anywhere should wish him, or any other person under the sun, dead.

To do so is not just unacceptable in all our various cultures as Zimbabwean people, it is uncouth and plain wrong - notwithstanding whatever alien culture of the offending purveyors of this barbaric gossip.

We say this without any fear of contradiction for a newspaper that is often very critical of Mugabe's and his party's dodgy record in government.

Neither is our standpoint on this matter driven by expediency to curry favour with him and his cohorts.

Nor is it out of fear that not doing so would elicit the kind of malicious action against us that we suffered as a media house more than a decade ago when we were unjustly shut down by his government.


We do so out of a deep conviction that all life is sacred, irrespective of whether it is Mugabe or some other lesser known mortal involved.

To that extent, we want to implore all Zimbabweans to desist from wishing Mugabe and any other person ill forthwith.

We might have very strong and legitimate political differences with each other, as we do, but that is absolutely no reason to want to see or wish each other dead.

For, it is exactly this barbaric spirit and line of thinking that has seen Zimbabwe slide into the debilitating political and economic morass that our country now finds itself in, 34 years after attaining majority rule - which is patently unacceptable.

Perhaps one way of mitigating the speculation around the president's health is for the government to be as transparent as possible about his travels and health, obviously balancing this against his rights as well as the interests of his family.

After all, the fact is that the First Citizen will be 90 in a few weeks' time.

And at this age, it is a given that the elderly develop a number of health challenges - meaning there is no good reason at all to try and run away from this reality.

The kind of responsible and useful information management about the president's well-being that we are advocating here is not rocket science.

It has been done successfully in other countries, including recently in South Africa, in the case of the late and founding leader of that country, Nelson Mandela.

Surely, such course of action and diligent information management around when Mugabe travels, to where, and when he is being attended to by medical doctors, for what, can only work in the best interests of the president, his family, the government and the country in the long run - without jeopardising his security and privacy.

Food for thought.

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Source - dailynews
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