IS there something so unAfrican about corruption that we do not understand, yet we can accuse others of corruption without noticing it seeping through our systems?
Brother Robert Gabriel Mugabe, ruler of Zimbabwe since independence on 18 April 1980, during his 90th birthday lunch accused Nigerians of corruption. “Are we now like Nigeria where you have to reach your pocket to get anything done? We used to go to Nigeria and everytime we had to carry extra cash to corruptly pay for everything. You get into a plane in Nigeria and you sit there and the crew keeps dilly dulling without taking off as they wait for you to pay them to fly,” said Mugabe, to rapturous laughter from his guests.
Why did Mugabe choose Nigeria for his point on corruption? When was Mugabe in Nigeria that he paid for anything, everytime? Which plane did he bribe the crew to fly?
Some Nigerians have applauded Mugabe’s diatribe. They say it reflects corruption in Nigeria. Mugabe was not talking about Nigerian leaders, which again would have been wrong. He was saying all Nigerians were corrupt. He had to bribe Nigerians for “everything”, “everytime” for “anything” to be done.
Mugabe’s remarks were incompatible with his office. He never paid for anything in Nigeria. We paid Zimbabwean freedom fighters to snatch their country, the then Southern Rhodesia from Ian Smith’s illegal government (Smith unilaterally declared independence from Britain and imposed an apartheid type government). Nigerians mobilised international opinion in favour of Zimbabwean guerillas who operated from Mozambique; we granted Zimbabweans scholarships, paid their leaders allowances, and availed our airplanes for their use.
President Shehu Usman Aliyu Shagari was among the 100,000 at the Rufaro Stadium in Harare to celebrate Zimbabwe’s freedom. He donated $15 million to Zimbabwe to train its students in Nigeria, its workers at the Administrative Staff College of Nigeria in Badagry, and its soldiers at the Nigerian Defence Academy in Kaduna.
We are witnessing Mugabe’s gratitude.
“Democracy in Zimbabwe is in intensive care and the leadership has decayed. Leaders around Mugabe are stashing cash into Swiss accounts just like the mafia,” said Edgar Zivanai Tekere, first ZANU-PF Secretary-General, Mugabe’s mercurial mate, who joined the struggle at 19. Tekere died in 2011 at 74. His disagreements with Mugabe began barely a year after independence, when he accused Mugabe of corruption.
Dictatorship, unknown to Mugabe, who is wired to numerous corruption scandals, is also corruption. At 90, it is unfortunate that Mugabe has riveted his attention to attacking Nigeria. He has wasted Zimbabwe, ruined its future, but he fails to notice the corruption he has installed over 33 years.
Nigeria should protest the Mugabe affront more vehemently.