Home » Governance » Divided Reaction to Mugabe’s Fall [opinion]

EVERYBODY stumbles and falls at one time or another. Show me somebody who has never fallen in some unfortunate mishap in all his life and I will show you a liar, some people have said and with good reason. But to behold the reaction that flooded the social networks and conventional media last week following President Robert Mugabe’s misstep and consequential fall at the airport upon his arrival from Ethiopia, one would have thought it was a plight unique only to him.A great number of Zimbabweans within and without the country as well as others from other countries across the width and breadth of the globe had a field day mocking the veteran leader. Sharing and laughing at photoshopped versions of the pictures of the fall on social networks was the order of the day, in the days following. That people would react to such news and that the very incident would find its way on newspaper pages and social networks, was not surprising. What was disturbingly untoward about the reaction to the fall, however, was the glee with undercurrents of spite that was displayed by hundreds of citizens.

“This simply shows a sick society,” said Nhamo Mhiripiri, a political analyst.

“How does one with a healthy mind celebrate the misfortune of another? If you celebrate such a misfortune you are sick and have some psychosis.”

Speaking to the Financial Gazette, Mhiripiri implored those who had found mirth in the incident and attributed the coarse humour to lack of political maturity. That is the verge of political immaturity,” he said, pointing out that those who “celebrated’ the mishap did it on political grounds. “Because of political allegiance (to different political parties) some found that it was something to celebrate, but we remain human and we have values,” Mhiripiri said.

Although appalled by such reaction Mhiripiri, however, relished the fact that not everybody found glee in the incident.

“There was a fair division between those who are morbid and celebrated and those who realise that falling is humane and natural,” he said.

Others incensed by the spiteful reaction felt it was not Christian-like and was unAfrican. The majority of Zimbabweans are Christians and so abide my Christ-like values which include teachings such as: “do unto others as you would like them to do unto you” Christian charity and kindness. Africaness is often embodied by the ubuntu concept which provides that: “I am because you are – that we depend on each other, as such your well being is also mine and mine, yours.”

In a post on Facebook, Marcelina Chikasha, president of the African Democratic Party disapproved of the blatant display of lack of ubuntu.

“It is truly out of order, against the principles of ubuntu and Christianity to celebrate someone falling… people have lost all respect, they are uncouth and callous. As an opposition leader, I say let’s be a dignified and responsible generation. Let’s focus on issues,” Chikasha said.

There are others, however, who felt the gleeful reaction was telling.

Mabvuku Member of Parliament, James Maridadi, who is a member of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change said there was a message to be gleaned from people’s “celebratory” reaction.

“When a people celebrate a misfortune that befalls someone who is their leader, it shows you the disaffection and disconnection that exists between that leader and the people he leads,” Maridadi told the Financial Gazette. Caesar Zvayi, editor of a local daily, posted repeatedly on Facebook imploring those who were “celebrating”. In one post he urged people to move on with their lives and not dwell on a natural mishap such as falling. “… he (the President) has moved on as we all do after any slip, you get up and move on,” Zvayi said.

There has been some ill will amongst some people in the country against the President given the economic meltdown which has seen the majority of Zimbabweans sink into poverty.

However, in the last election President Mugabe won 61 percent of the vote, showing that there are quite a considerable number of people who continue to have some goodwill towards the President.

Source : Financial Gazette