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23 August 2017 12:08 (South Africa)
Opinionista Onkgopotse JJ Tabane

Dear Robert Gabriel Mugabe... let’s talk frankly

  • Onkgopotse JJ Tabane
    OnkgeposteBW
    Onkgopotse JJ Tabane

    Onkgopotse JJ Tabane is one of South Africa’s leading media and communications specialists, as well as a community activist and a business executive. He is currently the Chief Executive of Oresego Holdings an International Advisory Company. His most recent roles were Head of Communications for COPE [2008], Political Advisor to the COPE parliamentary Leader as well as a Corporate Affairs Executive at the JSE listed Altron. He is a member of the University of the Western Cape Council, where he is an appointee of the Minister of Higher Education after serving two terms on the council of the Northwest University. He is an Associate of the prestigious international Institute of Independent Business (IIB). He is a regular columnist for The Sunday Independent and Pretoria News. In 2011 he rejoined the ANC as an ordinary member. Tabane is a PHD Candidate in Media and Journalism Studies at WITS University.

It was great to have you in our shores. By the way, some three million or more of your citizens are here having run away from your wonderful democracy. They did not share the myth that Zimbabwe is the bread basket of the continent. They seem to share the widely held belief that Zimbabwe is more likely the basket case of the continent.

Now you are rumoured to have brought your bread basket to use as a begging bowl, asking President Jacob Zuma for crumbs. But you know how people always miss the point. One wonders, though, how three or even four million people could miss such a simple point. I mean you annexed farms for these comrades and now they’ve come here to pick up crumbs of jobs in restaurants and white suburbs. I wonder what this has to do with some of them not liking your Zanu PF much.

But as they say, the masses are sometimes unreasonable. I mean, you have created for them generation-long stability where they have had only one leader to deal with over some 40 years. The devil they know. You saw what happened when Morgan tried his hand – he could not last as prime minister even for two minutes. I also think he was a bit distracted by the fairer sex. He didn’t bother to learn from you as a one-woman-man. But this could be pure slander and a charitable explanation for his failure to take over Zimbabwe. The people prefer a devil they know, that much is clear to me.

I mean how else do you explain why Africa’s leaders found it apposite to elect you their best role model and example to guide Africa into the next century. It is because they know you and relate to all that you have achieved for Zimbabwe and they desperately want this for their countries.

The economy of Zimbabwe under your watch has become quite different. I am certain you have made a major difference to your people since the ’80s. Your agricultural produce has changed – you have made light of the fact that you grow tobacco and the whole economy is best described as ‘being high’. Everyone can see what the economic figures are saying. There is no need to repeat the inflation numbers and so on, stuff that usually sounds like western propaganda. The currency is also a ‘bit high’; people had so much money that they couldn’t afford to carry it around. I think a decision to do away with the Zim dollar and rather use the US dollar was probably a practical solution given the shortage of wheelbarrows and such. I do think the situation of queuing for petrol and lamb chops has probably improved considerably given that at least three million people have crossed the border so that the queuing for resources is now on this side of the Limpopo river, creating much needed relief on your side.

Minister Malusi Gigaba – who now is in charge of home affairs – is ensuring your people who are not being productive here head back to your country to be your charity cases once again. He has been shouting some deadlines, to be politically correct, but we all know what we are dealing with. An another extension - till your wife visits in 21 years - cannot be ruled out. I am reliably told this was not deliberated much during your historic once-in-a-generation state visit. I mean, we know you are about to launch a homecoming revolution anyway, ensuring your people return to you in time for the next election that may see Grace ascend to your throne.

Talking about Grace... Do alert her of the major post-Easter sales in Sandton City... they have revamped the place since you last visited in 1994 when President Nelson Mandela was still alive. There are also a variety of new malls including the Menlyn, which we boast is the biggest shopping centre in the southern hemisphere. Look, we know she often shops in London and other expensive centres around the world but we are thankful for her dollars while she is in our midst. But given she may succeed you… there is a rumour that she wanted to be in on your one-on-one with JZ but you promptly reminded her she may only need to visit in another 21 years. That time, at about 112 years young, you will accompany her as spouse. But I digress.

Thank you for lecturing our leaders on this whole issue of land. Your friends in the Economic Freedom Fighters in anticipation of your visit have occupied land in a dusty patch in Cape Town apparently owned by the arms manufacturers. They seem to be taking more than a leaf from your book but one wonders whether they got a tip about some buried arms on that land. You never know with some of these copycats. They may need to come for some lessons in Zim. For starters, it may be useful if they don’t occupy barren, unproductive land. I mean you did not mess around in Zim; you annexed farms and chased whites away and told them exactly what you thought. Here we target dead whites and their statues while we promote and appoint white people in the name of affirmative action. Your counsel is urgent and your visit timely.

Just look at our BEE – it has become a terrible joke. Just last week the minister of mineral resources embarked on a fact-finding mission to our courts to ask the question you have already answered in Zimbabwe. He asked the court whether once empowered you are considered – as a white business – to always be empowered. You would have thought that would be obvious that once empowered you must sustain the empowerment to avoid a fronting situation. But with our leaders this side of the Limpopo, when it comes to tiptoeing around whites we can only blame Mandela’s postponement of the anger of our people. This must make your stomach churn. I mean, you are clear that any foreigner should only own a generous 49% and not a percent more. Tell that to our comrades in charge here and you will be run out of town. Event the 26% that was supposed to be achieved by the mining industry is now being reversed with these silly notions of once empowered always empowered ...balderdash. It is tragic, comrade Gabriel.

But what can we do but march on?

By the way, congratulations on your appointment as AU chair. I think for once the Union is clear about where it wants to go. For once it has stopped pretending to want to be globally relevant. I mean, as chair of the AU you won’t have to have the burdensome duty of travelling to Europe to engage with the European Union leaders since you can’t. So it cuts all the pretence of diplomacy with the West. If the AU leaders wanted to box higher in the global arena they would not have elected a person who is banned from travel to head up the boys’ club. Oops, sorry; we can’t call it that anymore given Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma is at the helm. I am told you wasted no time making sexist jokes in her presence just to remind her it is a man’s world. Frankly, if you ask me, we need her back home. Hopefully your management style will drive her up the wall fast enough for her to be back home in time for the elections of the Women’s League.

There is a silver lining of course. I suppose Grace can now shop it up at top African capitals such as Dar es Salaam instead of taking Zim dollars to the colonialists.

I remember quite vividly your visit here during the World Summit on Sustainable Development at the Sandton Convention Centre back in 2002 when you threw the down the gauntlet and dared Blair: “Blair keep your England and I will keep my Zimbabwe.” Methinks, quite frankly, that it seems like many of your countrymen have interpreted that sentiment quite literally by inviting you to keep YOUR Zimbabwe while they seek greener pastures here and elsewhere. They have left you to ruin, I mean run, that once beautiful country further and now look on with glee as you are handed the whole continent to put its economy on ‘a high’.

You can imagine the innovation that will result in being led by someone who has lived through several generations such as you have, comrade. You can imagine the fresh ideas and new perspective that we can look forward to. It’s unimaginable. As unimaginable as your fall from Grace at YOUR airport recently.

Hope you made some time to visit Hillbrow while you were here, to touch base with some of your three million ambassadors out here. We have embraced them as a part of us, understanding what they may have run away from.

I don’t have much time now as I must go and be productive but this won’t be my last letter to you. Until then, keep Africa on a ‘high’.

Yours frankly,

Onkgopotse JJ Tabane. DM

  • Onkgopotse JJ Tabane
    OnkgeposteBW
    Onkgopotse JJ Tabane

    Onkgopotse JJ Tabane is one of South Africa’s leading media and communications specialists, as well as a community activist and a business executive. He is currently the Chief Executive of Oresego Holdings an International Advisory Company. His most recent roles were Head of Communications for COPE [2008], Political Advisor to the COPE parliamentary Leader as well as a Corporate Affairs Executive at the JSE listed Altron. He is a member of the University of the Western Cape Council, where he is an appointee of the Minister of Higher Education after serving two terms on the council of the Northwest University. He is an Associate of the prestigious international Institute of Independent Business (IIB). He is a regular columnist for The Sunday Independent and Pretoria News. In 2011 he rejoined the ANC as an ordinary member. Tabane is a PHD Candidate in Media and Journalism Studies at WITS University.

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