Over the past seven months, ever since the military coup that ousted former Zimbabwe dictator Robert Gabriel Mugabe in November last year, the country has been inundated with several slogans and mantras meant to legitimise and justify those who took power – however, what is most painful is the use of blasphemy, through the abuse of God’s name for political expediency.
Although, Zimbabwe is, by far, not new to blasphemy by politicians – having witnessed the shameful comparison of Mugabe to our Lord Jesus Christ, and baseless claims by shadowy prophets that he had been specifically anointed by God to lead the nation, and no one was supposed to challenge him – but, the continued abuse of Jehovah’s name is worrying, to say the least.
Possibly, as a direct result of Mugabe’s claim that he was specifically appointed by God to lead this country – and that only He could remove him – those who ousted him have sought to justify their actions by insinuating that their actions were inspired by God.
Otherwise, how else can one explain the now all too familiar mantra claiming that, “the voice of the people is the voice of God”?
First of all, as every Zimbabwean knows, Mugabe was not removed by the people, but by the military, as he was held under house arrest, whilst being pushed to resign.
The call for people to go out onto the streets to call for his resignation was just a smokescreen for what was truly happening behind the scenes, in order to give impression of a popular uprising, so as to camouflage the military action – and, as in fact did happen, avoid international ramifications.
Let us not forget that the call for mass action came after the military had already intervened.
This, by any stretch of the imagination, can never be said to be the voice of God!
Secondly, even if we were to accept that what transpired last November was indeed a popular uprising, what justification is there to claim that this was the voice of God?
Since when has God spoken through popular or mass action?
As much as I am a firm believer in democracy and democratic values, we should separate these from the voice of God – as these are fundamentally divorced from each other.
God does not – and has never worked – through mass or popular action.
In fact, most acts of rebellion against God in the Bible were carried out through popular and mass action.
A couple of examples immediately come to mind – for instance, the mass call for God’s only begotten son Jesus Christ to be crucified – nearly everyone cried, “crucify Him!”.
That was not the voice of God.
Another example is when the children of Israel constantly demanded that they be returned to bondage in Egypt, whenever their plight in the wilderness became unbearable – even leading to them creating an idol for them to worship when Moses was up the mountain talking with God.
Furthermore, the children of Israel, later on, collectively demanded a human king from the prophet Samuel – an act that greatly pained God, as it was a direct rejection of His rule.
Several times, from that point onwards, the children of Israel – together as a mass – disobeyed God, as they made their own popular decisions that were not directed by Him.
It is, thus, clear that God never spoke through the people as a collective.
In fact, the true voice of God was always met with resistance from the people, as it was highly unpopular – and it came through His genuine prophets.
If ever there were to be Gallup polls in those days, the people with the lowest approval ratings would have been the genuine prophets of God – as the voice of the people was always contrary to that of God.
Even during the days of the apostles, the voice of God that they spoke of was seldom received well, as it was not the voice of the people – leading to widespread persecution and even death.
Similarly, today is not any different – as the voice of the people is surely not the voice of God.
The desires of humans are always mostly of the world and of the flesh, and are not necessarily of the Spirit and inspired by God.
Similarly, Zimbabweans’ heed to go onto the streets in November last year, was inspired more by long-term suffering and pain that they had endured under Mugabe, than an instruction from God.
There was never any genuine prophet of God who had come forward to lead the nation with a direct message from Him – as did Moses – in calling for Mugabe to “let His people go”.
What Zimbabwe, and the world over, lacks are genuine prophets of God – who are truly sent and speak His instructions.
As I have written so many times before, what we have today are mere soothsayers, predictors and healers – from whose power only themselves know – who are more like sangomas, rather than prophets of Jehovah God, who relay His messages.
They are better at predicting what is going to happen, or telling someone their phone numbers, and healing the sick, than actually transmitting messages from God.
The genuine prophets of God were instructed by Him to convey very important messages, and even to appoint leaders that He would have specifically chosen – whilst, at the same time keeping those leaders in check.
Which leaders, have our so-called prophets today, ever appointed as a direct instruction from God?
If the current leadership is truly from God, which prophet was sent to appoint and announce them?
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I do not recall ever seeing or hearing of a prophet who was sent to announce to Mugabe that God had said that he should step down, and anointing a new leader – as did Samuel when he told Saul, whom he had anointed earlier on, that God had rejected him, after anointing David.
Even Father Fidelis Mukonori – who was heavily involved in the talks between the military and Mugabe leading to his resignation – at no point, did he ever claim that he had carried a message from God for Mugabe to step down, and Mnangagwa to take over – but, made it very clear that he was just one of the negotiators.
In fact, that is why the current leadership would rather hide behind “the voice of the people’” because God never sent any prophet to appoint them.
Predicting a future leader, or the death of a leader, is not prophecy from God, but mere soothsaying – just as a sangoma would do – but, God directly sends His prophets to be directly involved in the appointment of His chosen leader.
Genuine prophets rebuked and corrected those leaders whenever they went against God’s word, as did Samuel to Saul – when he disobeyed His instructions – and Nathaniel to David – after he had committed adultery with Uriah’s wife.
Similarly, other prophets as Elijah and Elisha were sent by God to rebuke and carry instructions to kings and the people – whose messages proven highly unpopular.
However, today we have populist prophets, who are after making as many powerful friends as possible, so as to freely make their millions of dollars from fleecing the people, and shoddy dealings.
They would rather sup with leaders, even when they are corrupt, or abusing and oppressing their own people.
Genuine prophets of God are not there to make friends, or please any section of society, but are strictly there to convey what Jehovah would have instructed them – most of which makes them more enemies than friends, especially from the ruling elite, and the general population, as most of us are prone to go against God’s Word.
If ever we witness a so-called prophet who says or does things that are meant to endear him or herself to a certain section of society, then they are not of God – as with biblical times, genuine prophets were more isolated and hated by nearly everyone.
Yet, these so-called prophets we have today seek favour from men (people), especially from those in power, or the general population – so that they may attend their churches and give them money.
Therefore, as much as leaders would want to be accepted by the people, or to win democratic elections, there can never be any justification to blasphemy against Jehovah – and it is such a shame that those who claim to be men and women of God never stand up against such acts.
The voice of the people is through the democratic process, but the voice of God is through His genuine prophets – and the two are very different.
As a relatively democratic country, Zimbabweans should campaign freely and peacefully – based purely on their policies and manifestoes – but, should never ever abuse the sacred name of God for their selfish political gains.
God is not against democracy, but let us pray for His blessings for our nation, without bringing His name into disrepute – as that will only spell further disaster for our nation.
Commentator: Tendai Ruben Mbofana.
He is the Programmes Director with the Zimbabwe Network for Social Justice (ZimJustice).
Tobi Amusan, Ozuah And Buhari’s N1.14bn Vehicles For Niger by Festus Adebayo
To understand the profligacy, indiscretion and misplaced priority in the purchase of N1.14bn ($2.7m)-worth 10 luxury vehicles by the MuhammaduBuhari government for neighbouring Niger Republic, ostensibly to shore up that country’s security, at a time when there is excruciating hunger in the land and terrorists are probably a mile away from the Aso Villa seat of government, you have to go way back to the year 1972 or so, to the reply of the late President of Niger Republic, AhmaduDiori, when asked why Niger supported Nigeria as against the secessionist Biafrain the Nigerian Civil War. According to Diori, as quoted by Temitope Ola in ‘Nigeria’s assistance to African states: What are the benefits?’ in International Journal of Development and Sustainability, Niger depended on Nigeria for her economic survival. In his direct words, made in French, Diori had said “when Nigeria sneezes, Niger not only catches cold, it is already on admission in the hospital.”
While government justifies the vehicle purchase as continuation of Nigeria’s national foreign policy, with its central focus on Africa, this has afforded Nigerians the opportunity to dig into the details of the so-called foreign policy. In the process, we found out that, as irresponsibly profligate as that Buhari government’s vehicle purchase is, at this time of national economic pains at home, profligacy and irresponsible spending have, since independence, hallmarked successive Nigerian governments’ national and foreign policies. This recklessness confirms the flipside of that popular aphorism that though Rome was not built in a day, Rome was also not destroyed in a day as well. Not only didn’t the prostrate and lamentable state that Nigeria currently finds herself begin today, Buhari, a known defender of his Fulani ethnicity, at the expense of Nigeria, was led into taking such a reprehensible action based on a Nigerian governmental pedigree of wastage.
According to a January 30, 1970 edition of The New York Times, even after a ruinous, brutal and destructive civil war, Nigeria’s economic structure and promise remained almost unscathed. Put at about $1billion spent on prosecuting the needless civil war, Nigeria must have been one of the few countries in the world which fought an intra-national war for three years without any known record of indebtedness. With an economy managed by Chief ObafemiAwolowo, an astute manager of men and resources, Times reported that Nigeria adopted the “cash and carry” method for her arms and ammunition procurement. More astoundingly, she didn’t have to draw down on her foreign currency reserves which, pre-war, stood at $400 million.
Armed with a hugely humongous oil wealth, a vast population and the mantra that a Nigerian was in five blacks gathered anywhere in the world, as the street lingo says, these soon “entered Nigeria’s head,” and the thought that the country could be an African superpower became a near-national ideological obsession. Between 1967 and 1977, federal government revenue was said to have soared by 2,200 per cent. Nigeria’s economy was so strong that, on January 1, 1973, the country abandoned its pound sterling currency, a colonial relic, and created a Naira currency. Nigeria was managed by an exuberant crop of unaccountable military leaders who had scant leadership and economic training. The height of it was Gowon’s infamous statement abroad in 1973 that Nigeria’s problem was not money but how to spend it. The huge oil wealth was soon quashed on the altar of naivety, arrogance and knavery.
Going on foreign junkets became a pastime of the nouveau riche military elite and a consumerist pattern driven by obsession for foreign goods. This grossly contradicted a budding ideology of a people who professed African superpower. General Gowon, like MuhammaduBuhari, publicly known for his terse thirst for personal corruption, became a breeding pond for blood-of-the-country-sucking sharks dressed in military epaulettes. The governors began a mania of infrastructure driven more by opportunistic crave to collect kickback from contractors than need for development. It became so bad that in 1975, the Gowon government had placed accumulated order for 20 million tonnes of cement, paid for by Nigeria’s buoyant petro-dollars. The cost of the mind-boggling cement orders was put at about $2 billion, an amount which was a quarter of Nigeria’s oil revenue in 1975. This order was at the time more than the cement capacity of Europe and USSR combined. Apapa was thoroughly overwhelmed and shipping lines all over the world scurried to Nigeria to take a bite of the raw, mindless orgy of profligacy. Most of the shipments entered demurrage in what was infamously dubbed the Cement Armada.
The petro-dollar El-Dorado was so hugely provoked that every rural dweller in Nigerian villages wanted to migrate to the city. Prostitution statistics rose tremendously, so did crimes. Girls became willing liaisons to soldiers in whose hands hid the famous dollars from oil exploration and their civil servant accomplices. Between 1970 and 1976, statistics revealed an upsurge in criminal activities due to the craze to take a bite of petro-dollars. An approximate 900-percent increase in incidences of armed robbery was recorded, with 12,153 reported cases in 1970. This figure soared to 105,859 in 1976. Executions of robbers, codified in federal and state laws, went on the upswing. The capital punishment for armed robbery could however not deter the spate of robberies because the petro-dollar gains accruable from the crime outweighed the risk of being caught.
It was easy for the exuberant military leaders, many of them in their 20s and 30s, some of whom were bachelors, like General Jack, the Head of State himself, to extend the spatial control mentality of military psychology into governance. They easily keyed into the African superpower near-national ideological obsession and began to spend like Father Christmas, in the service of a foreign policy they devised, which was woven round Africa as centre-piece. This cost Nigeria heavily.
Thus, in 1972, as reported by Ola, Nigeria signed a pact with Niger Republic to supply her 30,000 kilowatts of electricity, from the Kanji Dam hydroelectricity, even when local electricity needs were not met. Again in 1974, Nigeria donated millions of Naira-worth relief materials to same Niger when it was ravaged by drought. After the widespread Soweto massacre riots of 1976, Nigeria brought into the country hundreds of “Soweto kids” and several other South African Black youths and offered them scholarship to study in Nigerian universities. This continued to the end of apartheid. Nigeria also established a South Africa Relief Fund (SARF) in 1978 where Nigerians poured about $20 million of their hard-earned money into. In June 1976, according to Ola, Gen Obasanjo presented a cheque of $250,000 to the liberation forces of Rhodesia through Mozambiquan Foreign Minister, Joaquim Chissano in Mauritius during the OAU summit. Quoting General Joe Garba, Ola also reported that, on April 25, 1976, Obasanjo handed over to President Samora Machel of the newly independent state of Mozambique the sum of $1.6 million as development assistance.
Nigeria also did this Father Christmas in her negotiation with and sale of a concessionary 90-day crude oil to South Africa, Namibia, Ghana, Niger and other Africa countries. Ghana and Togo owed the country over $30million from the exercise. The Big Father Xmas also constructed an expressway from Lagos to the outskirts of Cotonou with several millions of dollars, while spearheading the integration project of a regional gas pipeline for the sub-regional economic development. Nigeria equally established the Technical Aid Programme and created a Trust Fund at AfDB for Africans with a soft loan of $100 million it left in the bank to be lent to Least Developing African Countries.
In 1989, upon the paralysis of Beninoise government by a bludgeoning workers’ strike occasioned by its inability to pay salaries, Nigeria, under Babangida, offset the salaries while also donating 12,000 tonnes of petroleum products to the government. The year before, Babangida’s Nigeria funded the Ibrahim Babangida School of International Studies in Liberia and donated seven Nigerian academics to its institution while Nigeria constructed the Trans-African Highway and bought over Liberia’s debt valued at $30 million.
There have been several arguments from international relations scholars who aver that, not being an island unto herself, Nigeria cannot but assist other nations, especially the ones that surround her. This argument is further bolstered by the fact that Nigeria herself receives huge assistances from developed countries of the world. However, Nigeria’s foreign policy has been left so much to the whims of the executive arm of government which then drives it according to the personal mindset of the head of the arm. It is why a cronyist like Buhari will capitalize on this unwholesome pedigree of Nigerian leadership to fritter money abroad in building a road into his Niger ancestral home, spend billions of Nigerian money on the tiny African country and legitimize it by citing Nigeria’s national foreign policy. President Obasanjo and General Babangida, for instance, squandered Nigeria’s national wealth so unconscionably during their stay in office on what will appear a mythical brotherhood relations policy, without corresponding benefits accruable to the country. Many of those countries on whom Nigeria squandered her national resources that could have been saved to build a today for her children demonize Nigeria and Nigerians today on account of the social and economic calamities that result, partly from such mindless donations and investments in their countries that were made decades ago. Nigerians today face xenophobic attacks from South Africans, for whose today we cleaned our treasury yesterday.
Almost as if it was perforating the thesis I have been sermonizing about since the beginning of this piece, on the scene emerged an alumnus of the College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, MBBS Class of 1985, Dr Philip Ozuah who donated the sum of $1,000,000 to a hostel building fund project of the college last week. The news nearly blocked the social media airwave. In an earlier discussion of Nigeria’s Father Christmas role in Africa that I had with some persons, I was asked that, put beside Ozuah’s gesture, what difference exists between Nigeria and Dr. Ozuah, both having helped their needy ecosystem?
In some way, you could also throw into this mix Nigeria’s Tobi Amusan, the 25-year old athlete who made history last week by winningthe 100 metres hurdles gold at the World Athletics Championship.
Rather than counterpoise or equalize Nigeria, I think what both Ozuah and Amusan did for Nigeria is what Leo Tolstoy called Loss as the elder brother of Gain. At a time, we thought our Loss was the national morale that had sagged badly in Nigeria, both in individual Nigerians’ willingness to intervene in the affairs of the other person or intervention in matters that affect the collective. Also, at a time that we thought that the name of Nigeria could never inspire anything good in the world, Amusan and Ozuah dismantled this mindset by coming as our Gain. In the words of Bob Marley, in his Trenchtowntrack, Ozuah and Amusan both made Nigeria/Nigerians to find “our (national) bread in desolate places,” among a world that asked, “can anything good come out Of (Nigeria) Trench Town?”
However, Ozuah and Amusan haven’t totally erased the fact that Nigeria is still a desolate place. If you listened to the maiden Channels TV interview granted by Festus Keyamo, National Publicity Secretary of the APC and his haughty pee on the graves of Nigerians who died and are still dying as a result of Buhari’s effeminate fight of terrorists, or his cavalier dismissal as inconsequential and the over-simplification of the almost half a year stay at home by our university children, you cannot but conclude that though brains similar to Keyamo’s, since 1960, have profligately driven Nigeria back, the Amusan and Ozuahs demonstrate that even inside the tunnel, we can have the light shine.
Algeria Turns 60, Hopefully the Age of Reason by Aziz Boucetta
In July 1962, after a 132-year-long occupation by France and a fierce 8-year-long national liberation war against the French, Algeria obtained its independence and became a country, a new state on the world stage. It took the name of “The People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria,” before letting itself be more or less ruled by the military since then.
The country’s sixty years of existence have been erratic, alternating between militaristic presidents and recurring periods of power vacuums under the ever-tightening tutelage of the army.
An army with a State
Coup d’Etats, president assassinations; a “Black Decade” with 250,000 deaths; a president who was bedridden following a stroke, “re-elected” in 2014 and hardly a “candidate” in 2019, before a wave of unprecedented protests in the country’s history.
All of this has evidently resulted in an unstructured economy, in which industry is not founded on any strategy or perspective, the public sector is bloated, and which relies almost exclusively on manna from the energy sector.
Hydrocarbons still represent 95% of the country’s exports, and contribute more than 50% of the state budget. As for agriculture, tourism, and many other sectors, they never properly started, and the result is that the Algerian economy remained a cash economy where foreign currency served to buy social peace.
In reality, to borrow Mirabeau’s description of Prussia in the 18th century, “Algeria is an army which possesses a state.” Everything is good, everything is permitted, while nothing is good enough for the Algerian People’s National Army (ANP), whose generals have more or less taken the country’s political power hostage.
The ANP vigorously buys equipment, even if useless, such as the six diesel powered submarines it recently acquired from Russia. The army and its chiefs, in a permanent (mental) state of war, impose this mentality of the besieged on the entire country where their psychotic culture of secrecy leads to the opacity of the Algerian regime.
According to former French ambassador to Algeria Xavier Driencourt, a fine connoisseur of the country’s political mysteries and author of “The Algerian Enigma” (Editions de l’Observatoire, 2022), the Algerian regime lives permanently with two eternal enemies: France and Morocco.
To France, Algeria never forgave the 124 years of colonization and the 8 years of a bloody independence war; and to Morocco, Algeria does not forgive the simple fact that it exists. Algeria’s obsession with these two countries is the source of the siege mentality of the Algerian generals and the presidents they put in place.
Deep-seated Hatred of Morocco
And it is precisely this mentality that leads the Algerian regime to ludicrous, even kafkaesque diplomatic moves (on the Sahara dispute, for instance), and even sometimes to dangerous acts (the latest attack on Melilla by migrants from Algeria).
Behind the current situation of the country is the coming to power, at the end of 2019, of the Abdelmajid Tebboune-General Said Chengriha duo. Tebboune serves in a figurative role as the Head of State, where he is tightly controlled by General Chengriha, who himself is well-documented to have been responsible for a great many deaths in the country during the “Black Decade.” The duo replaced two much more prestigious figures, who were more aware of emerging international trends and challenges than their successors.
Tebboune and Chengriha are permanently engaged in unending rounds of upmanship against Paris and Rabat, and especially Rabat. Accusing Morocco of all Algeria’s ills, rupturing diplomatic relations, and even childish decisions and measures such as refusing to refer to the kingdom by its name, but by the amusing expression “North African country.” The very “North African country” that saw its map retracted and its national anthem butchered during the 2022 Mediterranean Games…
In the end, the Algerian people bears the biggest responsibility in the stagnation of a country that could have been great otherwise than by geography.
The reason is that, after initiating a promising Hirak in 2019, the Algerian people has interrupted its movement and seems to have gotten accustomed to the mediocrity of its leaders, who in turn drive the country to its doom — economically, politically, diplomatically, or geopolitically. And the generals of the country’s army maintain their hatred of “Marrok,” a hatred or at least a rejection which, despite denials, is found in a large section of the population.
Meanwhile, despite its problems and vicissitudes, its shortcomings and failures, Morocco is moving forward, ignoring its neighbor’s Moroccan obsession. All of which is really regrettable, because the Maghreb could have existed and been stronger together. And imagine what a changed place the Mediterranean region would have been with this unity!
We must wait then, for wisdom to enter the hearts and spirits of the Algerian leaders. In principle, celebrating the 60th anniversary is celebrating wisdom… let’s hope, but in the meantime, let’s groan!
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