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Covid-19 and the bad 'all-weather' friends

12 Apr 2020 at 09:33hrs | Views
THIS lockdown must be logging down Sibusiso Moyo, the Foreign Affairs minister, too bad. When you are used to being out too much, lockdowns are, no doubt, a bad thing to happen to you.

You, therefore, don't get surprised when SB, the chap they grew up calling Bhudhi Busi, starts making mumbling statements. Late last week, he decided to take his boredom to the market, issuing a thinly veiled threat against people who are saying Covid-19 started in China. Well, he didn't mention China by name, but who doesn't know that he meant China?

SB, the pretty "courageous" chap who stormed ZBC two-and a-half years ago and announced a coup that he said wasn't a coup, said the following, in summary. He was aware of companies that were propagating "offensive, racially discriminatory publicity" on the coronavirus. These companies are talking of the "supposed origins" of the virus. This is abhorrent to his government. The virus knows no ethnic or racial boundaries. Zimbabweans were subjected to racial discrimination during colonial times and must, therefore, desist from "any form of racially charged slander or insult".

It's not clear what companies SB was referring to, but he obviously forgot or deliberately omitted mentioning his colleague in Cabinet, Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, in his vacuous statements. Oppah is the Defence minister and a very senior member of the ruling Zanu-PF. Just recently, she told gullible villagers that the virus was God's germ war against the Americans for imposing sanctions on Zimbabwe, and never bothered apologising about that offensive and racially discriminatory statement.

But SB is surely a bored guy used to big and fawning audiences that he can't be getting from within his bedroom during this lockdown. Just like the army of fake prophets who are used to big congregations that they cannot get now, so they are having to spend lots of time on Facebook and Twitter telling us all sorts of archived prophesies and how the west is going to inject Africans with microchips in the name of vaccination.

There are some basic things that don't make sense in SB's utterances. For instance, he talks of "supposed origins" of the corona virus. What this implies, in essence, is that the origins of Covid-19 have not been proved or acknowledged.

It could be that SB is watching too many cartoons at home, has little else to do or just wants to prove how clever he is. Because, you see, everyone knows where the virus came from. That's Wuhan, the capital city of the Hubei province in China. Even Beijing has not denied that. No-one has. So, there is nothing "supposed" about the origins of the coronavirus.

SB must know one thing. It won't help to be reading lots of literature on global pandemics, drawing theories from there and then trying to apply things on Zimbabwe. Granted, there hasn't been conclusive evidence on where some of the biggest global pandemics came from. The 1918 to 1920 Spanish flu, for instance. During World War 1, Spain was a neutral force. That gave its press the space to report objectively on the disease which, ultimately killed more than 50 million people across the globe, armies included. But it was established later that the reason why some people then thought it came from Spain was, the Spanish media revealed how it was killing people there while others were mum on it. And it has never been known where, exactly it came from.

That's not the same thing with Covid-19. Even as it was starting, it was known that it was coming from Wuhan. That's why Beijing quickly ordered a complete shutdown of Wuhan, something that seems to be paying off for the Chinese now. What's not known yet, despite the flurry of conspiracy theories, is who started the virus, if anyone, or how it exactly started. But it started in Wuhan, a Chinese city, period.

And, hey, there is nothing unethical or sinister about saying the coronavirus started in China. It's not racially discriminatory. There is nothing racial or racist in saying SB from Zimbabwe or the Ebola virus started in West Africa. Those are facts. Donald Trump, for all his faults, was right in there when he was recently confronted by a journalist at the White House. He wouldn't be bullied into withdrawing his statement that the virus comes from China. Of course, you don't agree with him for calling it a "Chinese virus", because we can't stoop so low as to give a virus a nationality. That would be a clumsy and slippery slope.

It sounds good and wise to say Zimbabweans must avoid being racially discriminatory, because they suffered the same during colonial rule. An eye for an eye gives you blindness, agreed, but when SB's statement here is put in context, it becomes empty and futile. Yes, SB doesn't mention China by name in his utterances, but there is no prize for guessing that he is warning people against talking of the coronavirus as coming from China. No other nation has been bandied around.

The Zimbabwean ruling elite is still stuck in that useless mode of regarding China as an all-weather friend. It's not. Not for the majority of the people. In that regard, it becomes clear that SB is using the predictable elitist mantra to protect the Chinese image. It's only the Zanu-PF ruling elite that benefits from its association with China.

If the Chinese were that well meaning with their Wilkins adventure and the local health system, how come our leaders are still trooping to Beijing for medical attention? Why didn't the Chinese think of investing in our other hospitals and equipping them with drugs so that our leaders and us would get good treatment at home?

It's the elite who get into shady contracts with the Chinese to cart our resources out. This is not fiction. You know what happened at Chiadzwa. The Chinese give our rulers a big and long chance to eat. That's why SB is talking like he is now doing. It's bad manners to be eating and talking against your guest.

That's why they are turning a blind eye to the widespread abuses at Chinese factories. It's not about racial profiling. It's about the chefs' mouths.

Tawanda Majoni is the national coordinator at Information for Development Trust, an non-profit organisation promoting good governance, and can be contacted on tmajoni@

Source - The Standard
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