Zimbabwe: Desperate for Good News

7 Min Read

As a Zimbabwean, you know good news about the country is very rare.

We are usually placed at the bottom end of most economic and democracy surveys and the butt of many jokes.

We believe we are better than that, but bad news seems to follow us everywhere. So since good news is rare, we celebrate it and milk it as much as we can.

But unfortunately, in our desperation for good news, we fall victim to even the cheesiest of snake oil salesmen.

For example, some organisation recently chose Zimbabwe as the best tourist destination. My initial reaction was “this is a bad joke”, until I heard there was a presentation ceremony in Harare and President Robert Mugabe, all 90 years of him, was the guest of honour.

Being the best tourist destination would have been lovely, but honestly, I doubt that’s the case, we have too many issues to deal with before we get there.

We know for a fact that tourists from western countries are somewhat sceptical of visiting Zimbabwe and numbers from there are depressed, so we now are looking to China to provide tourists. But the tourism minister was in the news the other day saying only 5,000 tourists out of 80,000 who visit southern Africa had visited Zimbabwe.

So even from our target market we still aren’t getting huge numbers, so how then is it possible for Zimbabwe to be the best tourist destination?

Oh and Dutch carrier KLM has cancelled direct flights from Amsterdam to Harare, because the route may not have been that profitable.

But why let facts come in the way of a good story, we celebrated like there’s no tomorrow, for now we are the best tourist destination and it doesn’t matter what naysayers may say.

Before I forget, the organisation that bestowed us that mantle has previously granted it to Laos and Trinidad and Tobago. Without pulling out your maps, where is Laos, by the way? Best tourist destination my foot.

Then the tourism minister was at it again, hinting that Zimbabwe may bid for the 2034 World Cup. I doubt he was serious when he said this, but soon the story developed legs and he had to defend it. Ummh the Confederation of African Football doesn’t think we are good enough to host the Africa Cup of Nations, but why worry about small tournaments when we can go for the big one, so World Cup it is.

Never mind the costs of hosting the World Cup, we shall ride on patriotism, nationalism, anti-imperialism and all other isms we can think of. To illustrate that we are ready for the bid, Walter Mzembi, the tourism minister, said we flawlessly hosted the CHAN football tournament a few years ago.

No disrespect to CHAN, but it’s a third or fourth rate tournament, which no one really cares about. I bet few Zimbabweans remember who won it when we hosted it. And yes we did host the All Africa Games in 1995, I am sure in Mzembi’s mind we can dust up the infrastructure and make it ready for 2034.

Before I forget, the same Mzembi once said Zimbabwe will build a “Disneyland in Africa”, I wonder how those plans are coming along.

A few weeks ago, a team of Zimbabwean doctors separated conjoined babies, never mind that the rest of the world has been doing this for donkey years, it was a proud moment in our history. One newspaper went overboard, declaring this showed Zimbabwe was ready for medical tourism.

Medical tourism? Oh wait and yet our owners, excuse me, I mean the top government officials, make a beeline for the airport at the slightest hint of flu, as they rush to other countries in search of medication because they don’t have faith in our health system.

But what the hack, we did it and celebrate we must. We might as well have an all-night music gala celebrating the doctors who pulled off that operation.

I could go on and on. But what takes the cake for me is when our government believed that some rock in a non-descript area was producing pure diesel. A bit of context: Zimbabwe was then facing severe fuel shortages, service stations and garages would go months on end without seeing any fuel. The government had tried all sorts of deals to get fuel but international suppliers weren’t willing to supply us because our record of paying back debts is not so stellar. Ask IMF and even Malawi, but those are stories for other days.

So when this woman said she could get diesel from a rock, the government was super excited and set up a task force to see how this discovery could be made profitable. But logic would have said it was impossible to get pure diesel from a rock. But who needs logic anywhere?

God, our ancestors and everything in between had heard our prayers and had intervened to end our suffering, or so we thought. Well to cut a long story short, it was not long before we discovered the woman was a fraud and to jail we sent her. But not before the customary celebration after receiving good news.

In the meantime, any good news, no matter how farfetched, is welcome and we will celebrate.

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