Letter from the President: Who's dying?
Letter from the President: Who's dying? Website
Countrymen and women, loyalists and opponents, I wish to congratulate the organisers and those who participated in last Wednesday’s ‘Ye wuoo’ (“we are dying”) demonstration for a job well done. Staging a demonstration in this country is one of the easiest things to do considering that there are so many discontents around. So they do not get much credit for ‘excellent organisation.’ I am just congratulating them because I’m very glad that the protest march passed off peacefully. I believe that this had nothing to do with the fact that there were 700 fully armed police officers escorting a group of 1000 demonstrators. I believe that the demonstration was as successful and peaceful because my countrymen and women have come to appreciate the value of democratic freedom of expression and association. It’s yet another feather in my cup. At least in the eyes of the international community, I’m better (much, much better) than Abonsam Mugabe. I don’t send troops to shoot indiscriminately at protestors; neither do I have them arrested, beaten to pulp and their heads shaved (with broken bottles). Damn, I’m a good president. Wednesday’s demonstrators claim that they are dying… dying from the hardships brought about by my economic policies. They say that my policies are too harsh and I’m too “insensitive.” Well, I don’t fault them. They have a right to say whatever they want about my government and the policies we adopt. They could be harsh and insensitive but at the end of the day, I don’t think my policies are killing anyone. Let me just make it clear hear that I am a firm believer in one of Kwame Nkrumah’s most famous quotes: “we’d rather die in freedom than live in servitude,” or something to that effect. So if my policies are killing a few of you in an era of emancipation, I sincerely believe I’m doing nothing wrong. In fact, I’m living by Nkrumah’s words. The only problem is that I’m not the one doing the dying and I am not prepared to be in those shoes – ever! It would be unwise for me to deny that there is economic hardship in this country. Make no mistake about it (apologies to George Bush) I know how much a tin of milk costs. I know that trotro fares have more than quadrupled in the last couple of years. I am very much aware that school fees have skyrocketed and the cost of maintaining a girlfriend is way more than the pocket of an average man could bear. You can blame me all you want for these hardships. But can you say (honestly) that I didn’t warn you? I did! I remember very well that I told you a few months into my presidency that you should “tighten your belts.” That meant that you should brace yourselves for economic turbulence ahead. I thought most of you perfectly understood me and you were gracious enough not to ask any unnecessary questions like “how long should we tighten our belts for?” You did as you were told. So I’m surprised that suddenly some misguided ones amongst you want to loosen those belts. Why? Can you go through the turbulence without your belts tightened? When I entreated you to tighten your belts I believe you were expecting me and members of my government to also tighten our belts too, weren’t you? Sometimes, my dear friends, it’s difficult to accept the cold, hard truth. But let me lay it out for you. When it comes to “tightening belts”, some people just can’t do it – simply by virtue of the fact that they occupy certain ‘insensitive’ positions. The demonstrators’ description of my government as ‘insensitive’ is very apt. We are insensitive not because we don’t care but because we are not affected. It’s unheard of in any part of the world of African for government officials to tighten their belts. It doesn’t happen in Mali; it doesn’t happen in Nigeria and it doesn’t even happen in Sudan or Ethiopia where the whole world knows there is rampant famine and intractable conflict. Show me an African country where government officials have tightened their belts along with the citizens and I’d show you a nation that’s not supposed to be on this continent! How can I tighten my belt when I receive ‘waa waa’ inflows everyday? It’s impossible. So my inability to tighten my belt (and the fact that most of the guys in my team cannot also tighten their belts) brings out the green-eyed monster of jealousy in most of you. I believe those complaining are jealous but don’t allow jealousy to lead you into doing anything silly. You are jealous that we drive the latest cars, eat in fancy restaurants, have the most nubile concubines and travel around the world under our well known programme of state-sponsored tourism. You are jealous… no need to deny it. Jealousy is a bad thing. But I’m glad that you are wise enough to channel your jealousy to the streets to stage peaceful street demonstrations. Keep it up. But please stop lying to the world that you are dying. You are not. Belt tightening doesn’t kill. Can any one of you give me an autopsy report indicating that any of our citizens died from a tightened belt? I’m very aware that Sikaman citizens die of ‘harmless’ (in other words, easily preventable and treatable) diseases like malaria and cholera. Government is “doing something about it” and so don’t despair. The best you can do is to feel jealous and channel it into exciting (if not productive) ventures like taking to the streets to protest. I hope that jealousy will not lead you into desperate endeavours like armed robbery or any other form of violent misconduct. Whenever you feel so overpowered by jealousy and, therefore, tempted to do any silly thing, just take consolation in the fact that you may have your turn one day. It’s my time now to enjoy and walk around in a loosened belt whiles I encourage everyone else (except those in my government) to tighten theirs. My time has come to be “insensitive”… yours may come sooner than you think.
Source: daily dispatch