What if Mugabe were a bull...

by Sonny O. Serite

Before I ruffle feathers and get into trouble with my headline, let me make it clear that, though male, Mugabe cannot be classified as a bull. Yes, he is not a bull. Only he acts bully by raining terror on his countrymen.

As a young boy, I used to frequent the cattle post. In fact, I bunked classes at school and went to the cattle post, just like that. At the cattle post I would help our herd-men to dehorn, earmark, vaccinate and castrate the calves.

Dehorning was necessary to avoid injuries that could be inflicted on the cows in the event they fought amongst themselves. While reasons for earmarking and vaccinating were obvious to me, I was always curious to know why we had to transform the bulls into steers through such a seemingly painful process of castration.

I was fascinated by a tool called the burdizzo. The reasons advanced for tempering with the young bulls’ testosterone through the burdizzo were to calm them down and stop them from harassing the heifers. By their nature, bulls tend to be rough, stubborn and always want to have things their way. Actually it is not advisable to have more than one bull in one kraal lest they wrestle for the control of the entire herd in the kraal. So much trouble for so much testosterone in one place.

I must say, from my cattle post sojourns, I learnt a lot on how to tame, calm and handle a bull.
However, I am still to learn how to soften people who behave like bulls.

What Robert Gabriel Mugabe is doing in Zimbabwe is akin to what my grandfather’s bull, named Satane, was doing in our kraal. Satane the bull was fond of leading our herd astray. The bull was a real bully who terrorized our cows and always wanted to forcefully mate with heifers. Satane was not your usual bull that you could learn to live with or expect your cows to get used to. My grandfather ended up, though reluctantly, slaughtering Satane and soon thereafter peace reigned in our kraal.

Now this is why I say if Mugabe was a bull I would be better placed to advice Zimbabweans on how they could deal or handle him, relying on my experience with Satane and all the other young bulls we transformed into steers through the burdizzo.

Some may recall a few years ago when the then President of the Republic of Botswana, Festus Mogae (I really miss him), sent a congratulatory message to Mugabe on the occasion of Zimbabwe’s independence celebrations. Mogae purported to have sent the message on his behalf and indeed on behalf of Batswana. I immediately wrote in one of the local newspapers distancing myself from the congratulations sent to Mugabe because I saw nothing worth of congratulations towards Mugabe. He has achieved nothing that can be said to have benefited or uplifted the livelihood of the ordinary Zimbabweans. Many Zimbabweans can no longer afford basic things like health, education and even peaceful sleep.

A lot of Zimbabwean women can no longer afford mere sanitary towels while Grace Mugabe probably saunters in her spacious palace in expensive, designer lingerie such as Victoria’s Secret. It is painful to think of how parents from Zimbabwe’s neighbouring countries such as Botswana used to send their children to Zimbabwe in pursuit of education of higher standards.

Back then attending school in Zimbabwe brought some sense of prestige and pride in Batswana and perhaps all other nations who sent their kids to Zimbabwe for studies. I remember some donkey years back while at primary school when we visited Zimbabwe on an educational tour.

Then Zimbabwe was a magnificent, vibrant and flourishing country not littered with sorry, dejected and hungry faces of brutalized citizens. Back then Zimbabwe was counted amongst the bread baskets of Southern Africa. I will never know what transpired thereafter as Zimbabwe took a down spiral of economic dwindles. Before I knew it the Zimbabwean dollar was as good as soiled diapers worth the pit latrine. On realizing that Mugabe was throwing Zimbabwe down the drain, the people of Zimbabwe eventually voted him out but the old man would have none of it. He refused to hand over power to Morgan Tsvangirai.

Not only did he refuse to hand over the baton but Tsvangirai was subjected to physical abuse at the hands of Mugabe’s henchmen. Mugabe went on the rampage and attacked anyone and everything that opposed him. Private media houses were closed down.MDC activists were beaten to a pulp and accommodated in jails. There was a lot of bloodshed in Zimbabwe I bet if their population was as little as ours here in Botswana, only Mugabe, his Grace and his puppets would be left in Zimbabwe.

A lot has been going on in Zimbabwe. I always laugh when I hear stories of government of national unity (or whatever it is called, I never bought into it) being mentioned in Zimbabwe. I just don’t understand why people fail to realize that Mugabe is buying time so that he can die in the State House. It was once reported the old man was willing to throw in the towel but his lieutenants are said to have objected as they feared for their fate after Mugabe’s departure. It now appears Mugabe is a hostage president who is only hanging in there at the behest of those he used to terrorize his political opponents.

Clearly Mugabe wants to die as head of state. Unlike our bull, Satane, we cannot slaughter him but then it is quite apparent neither God nor Satan is ready to summon him to either heaven or hell, as yet. There is nothing we can do except to condemn and shame him for what he is doing to the once vibrant Zimbabwe. It is disheartening that just when people were beginning to have some hope on his power sharing deal with Tsvangirai, the bull in him has been rekindled. I am fully behind my president’s condemnation of ZANU- PF’s continued failure to honour the spirit of the power-sharing agreement.
I was pleased to hear my president criticize Mugabe because I want to believe if he has no problem criticizing Mugabe, he in turn should have no qualms being criticized. I criticize Mugabe well aware he will insult me on receipt of this criticism.

I do so knowing the insults will bounce back like a tennis ball. I know Mugabe will not have any kind words for my president either. What I do not know however is whether my president is ready for Mugabe’s response towards his utterances on ZANU- PF. The politest words Mugabe can ever say to my president are, “keep your Botswana and I will keep my Zimbabwe”.

I am now on bended knees, I humbly ask, for the sake of ordinary Zimbabweans, would Mugabe and Tsvangirai please make love and not war. Would Mugabe kindly desist from rough riding Tsvangirai in the process? Mugabe is not a bull and as such we cannot dehorn or castrate him to calm and tame him. What we can however do is to encourage him to engage, peacefully and mutually, with Tsvangirai and live up to the requirements of their power-sharing agreement. Mugabe ought to know that he is bound by the agreement to share power with Tsvangirai. Afterall we’re not asking him to share his Grace but only leadership of Zimbabwe. It’s about time the two leaders ironed out their differences. In Botswana we say it’s better to jaw-jaw than war-war.

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