The curious case of Vice President Chiwega; When the mind makes commitments that the body can’t keep

Muriel Rosin, who was the only member of the Federation Parliament, under the presidency of Hon Clifford Dupont is said to have handed a note to Hon Dupont during a parliamentary session. The note read, ‘A man is not old when his hair grows grey, A man is not old when his teeth decay, But a man is ready for his last long sleep when his mind makes appointment his body can’t keep’ In this phrase, a lot was said about African leadership particularly those that deny that they might be physically incapacitated to continue leading a people.

Zimbabwe became a laughing stock of the world as at that moment, it had the oldest ruling president Robert Mugabe who was 93 years old. The greater part of his presidency was spent sleeping or seeking medical healthcare in Asian nations. State media was always on the defensive, trying to convince everyone that Mugabe still had the capacity to rule the country.

They would fight tooth and nail to convince people that Mugabe was mentally and physically sound but many a times the images that they use and independent media would let them down.

The craziness even extended to the political rhetoric that even in his wheelchair, Robert Mugabe will continue to be the president of this country.

It seems leadership is too sweet for one to let go. It makes one forget that they can’t lead for an eternity as mortality or physical incapacity of old age will soon catch up with them and they will have no choice but to let go. Malawi, like Zimbabwe, also had a president that kept a strong grip on power even though his physical capacity suggested otherwise.

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Kamuzu Banda made himself life president and continued to rule even in his wheelchair. Should we blame it on the greediness of the leader or should we blame the loyalists that keep pushing them or should we blame state propaganda for creating wrong impressions?

The morning of the 03 February 2019 was awash with unconfirmed reports that the Vice President of Zimbabwe had been airlifted to South Africa to seek medical attention. Many theories were cooked up even the hospital that he was said to have been was disclosed. A few demonstrations were setup in South Africa to demand the deportation of the Vice President to Zimbabwe for his medical care. Later reports said that the South African government disclosed that he was not in any hospital in South Africa which left many wondering if it was true or false and if true, where else he might be?

It didn’t take long for the ministry of information to post on their twitter handle that the Vice President was safe in Zimbabwe and in good health. The image that they posted showed him sitting in the Cabinet meeting. Jonathan Moyo attacked this post on his twitter handle saying, “Good show. But did you take these pictures? Relying on still photographs whose images are exactly the same like those used by @HeraldZimbabwe, and posting them at the same time, smacks of propaganda; and does not help your case as an audiovisual company.

This was for @InfoMinZW!” This exchange raised eyebrows as people started to question and wonder what really was going on.

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In a bid to try and clear the clouds Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation ZBC went out to get an exclusive interview with the Vice President in order to validate the claim that the V.P was in the country and in good health.

This interview in turn did more harm than good as it exposed the V.P’s images in which he looked sick and none of the images could validate that he was as fit as a butcher’s dog as the state media had claimed. The interview did more harm than good such that one cannot help but question the actual motive of ZBC in doing that interview. Mind you this is the same media house that would expose Mugabe pretending to be giving him media coverage but well who knows?

It’s really sad to get people celebrating the sickness of a leader, as Zimbabweans I believe we are better people than that but I feel the leadership should also take time to take care of themselves. They should learn to let go and take some rest and stop pretending that all is normal when all is not normal.

We are all mortal beings and we fall sick because we are not gods. We should always operate within the confines of our physical and mental capacity as leadership instead of living on false impressions.