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Opinion / Columnist

Mr Trump, please cut us some slack

05 Apr 2020 at 08:25hrs | Views
Despite romanticising rural life perhaps a tad too much, Bishop Lazi will openly admit that some village folk are an idiosyncratic lot.

For those who might not know them, it takes time getting used to some of their patently odd behaviour.

They are those who are given to monologues that you would mistake for belligerent folk having an altercation that is fated to escalate into a fistfight.

They would audibly argue with themselves in animated and sometimes agitated voices that would delude you into thinking the voice/s are from two people involved in a robust verbal exchange.

You would be tempted to condemn them as nutters, but with time you will realise that they are perfectly healthy and quite reasonable people.

Of course, they only differ from some of us who regard themselves as normal because they only vocalise some of the internal turmoil, voices and thoughts that continue to torment us all.

And then there are those curious villagers who will always pitch up every time when the steaming pot of pap (sadza) is just about to be served.

They will never turn up when fields are being tended, or when there is any undertaking that involves physical exertion, but they are always just in time for either breakfast or supper.

However variable meal times might be, they seem to have an antenna that reconnoitres and sends them signals in real-time.

But, where the Bishop comes from, there was this particularly enigmatic villager who was caricatured by the community.

This chap was lumped with a repertoire of all biological curses that can ever be found on a man.

Not only was he very short, but he was noticeably bald, with a shiny furrow that ran the length of his skullcap.

Although those similarly endowed routinely shave their hair to cover-up, he proudly wore his kinky, unkempt and spiky hair — or whatever was left of it.

He also had a spherically bulbous nose, which came in handy whenever he took his brownish snuff; which, in turn, always invariably made him sneeze, exposing his gaping teeth.

His favoured flappy overalls always failed to do half a decent job of camouflaging his disproportionately bow-shaped rickety legs.

The oppressive Buhera heat also did not do him any favours as it had managed to burnish his pitch-black complexion.

Arghh!!! This was the ultimate curse: mhanza, mavende nemateya pamunhu one (being bold, gape-toothed and rickety all at once). Kikikikiki.

Nature, however, always has a way of compensating for its own shortcomings. This villager was generously blessed with disarming wit and charm; wherever he went — either to beerhalls, boreholes, the diptank or village meetings — he always left guffaws of laughter, teary eyes and sore ribs in his wake on account of his devastating jest and jokes.

This, the community surmised, explained the riddle why he had gobsmackingly beautiful wives — in fact, five of them.

Though many of the envious believed that such an ugly man could only have wormed his way into the heart of such angels through muti (lucky charms), they, however, privately conceded that his real muti or charm couldn't be anything but his infectious charm. Kikikiki.

Misfortune

The Bishop always tells his congregants that if modern-day Zimbabwe could be personified, it would definitely come in the form of this village chap: buffeted by natural misfortune, but still retaining that alluring charm.

Surely, how much misfortune could one take? An unrelenting series of drought, which climaxed into the worst drought to affect this part of the world in 40 years last year; Cyclone Idai — regarded as the worst natural disaster ever to affect the Southern Hemisphere — in March last year; another unsatisfactory rainy season in the 2019/2020 cropping season; and ultimately, the coronavirus, which is unquestionably the worst global disaster in modern times.

Ndiyo mhanza, mavende nemateya pamunhu one! We, however, still have our irresistible charm for we are scandalously blessed with bountiful and enviable resources.

Boxing Blind

As if that is not enough, the country has already been smarting from two-decades-old sanctions, which deprived authorities of both the wherewithal and institutional capacity to satisfactorily deliver social services.

This has become starkly apparent in the country's preparedness to fight the imminent threat of the coronavirus.

In essence, the country has had to fight a potent and virulent invisible enemy with its hands tied behind its back.

Thankfully, this fact is not lost on the United Nations (UN). On March 24, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, indicated that lifting sanctions on countries such as Zimbabwe, Cuba, Venezuela and North Korea would give them a fighting chance against Covid-19.

She said: "The majority of these states (Zimbabwe, Cuba, Venezuela and North Korea) have frail or weak health systems. Progress in upholding human rights is essential to improve those systems — but obstacles to import vital medical supplies, including over-compliance with sanctions by banks will create long-lasting harm to vulnerable communities.

"The populations in these countries are in no way responsible for the policies that are being targeted by sanctions, and to varying degrees have already been living in a precarious situation for prolonged periods."

Her boss, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, was however more emphatic.

"I am encouraging the waiving of sanctions imposed on countries to ensure access to food, essential health supplies, and Covid-19 medical support," he wrote in a letter to G20 countries, adding: "Let us remember that we are only as strong as the weakest health system in our interconnected world."

Voila!!!!!

These "revelations" by head honchos of the world governing body, however belated they might be, are most welcome for they shine a spotlight on what the country has been grappling with for the past two decades.

Most importantly, they are fortuitously congruent with Government's snowballing drive to have the crippling sanctions lifted.

And then you have a hopelessly ill-willed supposed journalist, whose claim to competence is a certificate of having been attached to a Western news organisation, claiming otherwise for cheap political point-scoring.

This fetish of self-hate and disaffection towards one's country is another disease for which we need to find a vaccine.

As Bishop Lazi has been continuously telling you, the post-coronavirus world order will be robustly challenged.

The UN knows full well the calamitous effect of sanctions. Take Iraq, for example.

A study by the UN Children's Fund, Unicef, indicated that between 1991 and 1998, especially after sanctions imposed on the country for invading Kuwait, there were more than 500 000 deaths above the anticipated rate among Iraq children under five years.

Hans Von Sponeck — a former UN's senior official in Iraq — actually estimates that 167 children were dying every day.

He puts the cumulative deaths, including adults, at over a million.

If this is not genocide, what else could be?

The gory and grim evidence of the deleterious effect of the embargo moved 70 members of the US congress in 1999 to sign an unusually blunt letter to President Bill Clinton to lift the sanctions on Baghdad and end what they called "infanticide masquerading as policy".

Our Lord will, however, see us through.

And Psalm 46:1 resolutely states that "God is our refuge and strength, and ever-present help in trouble."

We shall definitely overcome.

But it might be time for Mr Trump to do the right thing.

Sanctions have never worked, are not working and will never work.

Remove these evil sanctions and give us a fighting chance.

Bishop out!

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