Foreign Policy Blogs

Dear President Mugabe

Dear President MugabeWhat a pity that the people of Zimbabwe and the world made hoopla about your recent trip to Singapore, which turned out to be an ordinary trip for you to attend to your daughter’s post graduate studies in Hong Kong. But can you blame them for believing that your trip was nothing but that of a dying president seeking medical treatment in a foreign country? Why would a president be whisked out of the country to a foreign country in a cloud of dark secrecy? And there is an historical precedent to back it up: You, the greatest Pan Africanist, are known for seeking medical treatment in Asia, with more than ten trips to Singapore alone.

Surely, you are not alone in carrying out this tradition of sitting African presidents and politicians seeking medical treatment abroad. The late Nigerian President Umaru Yar’Adua spent most of his last days abroad for medical reasons. The same story goes for former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa, who has his share of spending time abroad in search of better medical treatment. In Ghana, after having been involved in an auto accident in 2008, former president Kufuor flew abroad for a thorough medical check-up. So did Togo’s President Gnassingbe Eyadema who died while being evacuated for medical treatment abroad.

The same is also true that the point here is not that the world wants you dead, as you once proclaimed in your political rhetoric. Nor is it about whether you are “fit as a fiddle,” as your information minister put it to reporters. Certainly, I for one sincerely want to see you healthy and live beyond 100 yrs, but what does it say about Zimbabwe and the country’s health care system if the first citizen would rather seek medical treatment in foreign countries? What you are failing to grasp is that you as the president seeking medical treatment abroad is tantamount to a vote of no confidence in your own governing. What you are also failing to see is that there is a correlation between your governing and Zimbabwe’s dilapidated public health system.

But more importantly, I can’t help but wonder what goes on in your mind when lying in those well maintained hospital beds in Singapore with well trained doctors and health care workers (for gracious’ sake, I won’t blame you if you don’t think about all this, after all, you are sick). Do you think of the many million ordinary Zimbabweans who have no choice to seek this luxurious medical attention? Do you think of Zimbabwe’s children and elderly (just like you) who are dying due to shortage of medicine and well trained medical doctors in the country? Do you also ask yourself how and why they, your host country, can manage to maintain and run such hospital? Do you have similar hopes for Zimbabwe?



Ndumba J. Kamwanyah

Ndumba Jonnah Kamwanyah, a native of Namibia in Southern Africa, is an independent consultant providing trusted advice and capacity building through training, research, and social impact analysis to customers around the world. Mos recently Ndumba returned from a consulting assignment in Liberia in support of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL).
In his recent previous life Ndumba taught (as an Adjunct Professor) traditional justice and indigenous African political institutions in sub-Saharan Africa at the Rhode Island College-Anthropology Department.

He is very passionate about democracy development and peace-building, and considers himself as a street researcher interested in the politics of everyday life.
Twitter: NdumbaKamwanyah