HARARE – The audacious Nigerian media house, which recently humiliated President Robert Mugabe in Abuja, has had another go at him — highlighting the Gukurahundi massacres of the early 1980s, election irregularities and abductions that have taken place in Zimbabwe under his watch as showing that there is “no democracy” in the country.
Announcing the end of her popular programme called Keeping it real last week, one of the online publication’s reporters, the feisty Adeola Fayehun, sarcastically questioned why supporters of Mugabe — the world’s oldest leader — were attacking her over her recent statements that “there is no democracy in Zimbabwe”.
“By now you have heard about what happened between me and Robert Mugabe, an encounter that has led to the end of my career. I have been attacked left and right for asking when he would step down. I don’t regret asking that question, no I don’t.
“I was hoping that Mugabe would say something. He has been president of Zimbabwe since independence in 1980, that is 35 years ago. So me asking when he will step down is not a crime. The only thing I am not happy with is that the video was not edited. It aired my side comments which were not meant for the public to hear,” she said.
Fayehun mocked Mugabe when the nonagenarian attended the recent inauguration of Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, shouting “he is too old” and “there is no democracy in Zimbabwe”.
Her comments sparked heated debate across the political divide in Zimbabwe — with the YouTube video of her encounter with Mugabe being viewed by hundreds of thousands of people at home and internationally.
In her programme last week, Fayehun explained that when she described the frail nonagenarian as “too old”, her judgment had been solely based “on having encountered him at a very close range”.
“I wasn’t happy with you guys hearing he is too old. Me saying he is old is something that struck me when I saw him physically. It is not like what you see in pictures and videos.
“So, I was not making fun of him saying he is old, I was saying that he was old because it struck me when I saw him,” Fayehun said.
Adeola says on the day she came face to face with Mugabe, some journalists were trying to massage his ego.
“A lot of journalists in Abuja just kept saying Mr. President give us a smile so that they could take a picture and I am like this is Mugabe he has been in power for 35 years why should you be asking him to smile. There are so many questions to ask.
“But okay, I completely agree with you guys that asking Mugabe when he would step down was awful, it was terrible of me, very disrespectful, a small girl like myself, how dare I ask a whole president when he would step down especially in Africa where we are not to ask questions of elders?” she asked sarcastically.
“We are supposed to respect them especially if they are politicians whether they are dictators or not whether they are corrupt or not, we are not supposed to challenge them which is why this will be my very last episode of Keeping it real,” she added.
Sticking to her guns, the New York-based reporter goes on to ask rather rhetorically, “If there is democracy in Zimbabwe why is one man president for six terms”.
As old and as frail as Mugabe is, some of his supporters are still rooting for him to stand as Zanu PF’s candidate for the country’s next general elections constitutionally scheduled for 2018, when he will be 94.
“Why wouldn’t I say there is no democracy in Zimbabwe when we see names of dead people on the voters’ roll,” Adeola added.
Giving a lecture to her audience about Zimbabwe, Adeola said since the country’s independence from Britain in 1980, many activists had disappeared — illustrating her claim with a picture of Itai Dzamara — the journalist-turned-democracy activist who was abducted more than three months ago for protesting against Mugabe and has not been seen since.
“There is democracy yet people are afraid to talk to their President. Nobody can challenge the man without repercussions,” she said.
Speaking on the sensitive Gukurahundi massacres of the early 1980s, Fayehun tells her audience that these took place at a time that Mugabe was the country’s prime minister. – Daily News