John Baimba Sesay
I read with consternation and repugnance in one of the country’s local newspapers that Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe recently blasted President Ernest Bai Koroma and even referred him as ‘cocaine president’. That it was a ‘tit for tat’ affair, mindful of the recent position by President Koroma on the situation in Zimbabwe.
The paper did say, in a citation, culled from a Bulawayo Daily on 17th July 2008, that, Robert Mugabe was quoted to have lashed at Koroma saying that, ‘the president of Sierra Leone’s unprovoked attack on me [Mugabe] was unnecessary ….’ And asked, as reported by the paper ‘Which self respecting African President will allow a plane load of cocaine in his country…?’
For those who may want to know the genesis of this whole thing, this is how it all started: President Koroma was among the few African leaders that called for a re-run of the elections in Zimbabwe following the conduct of the disputed first in which, Mugabe was the one candidate for the elections. But prior to that, Mugabe had challenged any African leader that was elected into office democratically without rigging, to come into the open and president Koroma, knowing the way he was elected into office, had to come forward. That was how it all began.
The alleged cocaine affair must not for any reason, be trivialized because, we are, as a nation, mindful of the negative impact and implication such a deal would have on our image and integrity as a country. We must condemn the act in its totality and we must also cry down anybody who thinks, this is an opportunity for political gains to be achieved.
Some few days back, I received an email from somebody with the same news but I had to ignore it. Not long after that, another email came to me, but this time, on Kemoh Sesay, the Minister of Transport and Aviation, since then I became convinced that, there had been a calculated ruse aimed at certain people. In the first place, I doubt whether President Robert Mugabe would go that far to make such statement looking at the diplomatic implications attached to the whole issue. Also, the fact that, the information emanated from an email from an unknown person calls for thorough investigation into such information by the press prior to going to print.
The plane with over 700 kilograms of cocaine was not allowed legally to land at the Lungi International Airport and besides, I doubt whether President Koroma, allowed for the landing of the cocaine plane in the country. The President, from media reports and even from the words of the Transport and Aviation Minister was out of the country whilst the cocaine chronicle was taking place at the Lungi International Airport.
True to it that, it had been the expectations of most Sierra Leoneans that, the Minister of Transport and Aviation be suspended from his offices, as well as the IG and other people at the airport, but the police have said, they had no evidence against Kemoh Sesay. So I think, all we need to do at the moment is to wait on the police to thoroughly investigate the issue.
Journalism as a profession dictates that, efforts must be made to get all sides to a story and this I wonder whether, any government official was reached for his or her comment on the said statements by Mugabe.
Again, the cocaine saga must not in anyway be seen as a political contrivance to be used by anybody to gain political zest at this point in time because, drug dealing is nothing good for the image and reputation of a given country.
True to it again, that, the President had demonstrated his willingness and commitment to ensuring that the country could not be used as a transit point for narcotics and this in itself should be seen as efforts by the president to discourage the act. Politics must be left out of the current alleged cocaine scam, currently being investigated by the police and so, it would therefore be wrong, completely wrong for the president to be linked to the scam.
I had been a strong admirer of Robert Mugabe not because of the ruthless way he is governing his people but due to his stance on the land reform policy that he embarked upon some few years back against the white minority in Zimbabwe, but if president Koroma decided to condemn the way the elections were conducted in Zimbabwe, I don’t think it should warrant Mugabe to refer to Koroma as a ‘cocaine president’ and then be taken as a fact by certain people.
The ongoing alleged [am repeatedly using alleged because, it is yet to be confirmed that the white substance discovered is cocaine] cocaine scam must be treated as a national issue and not a political issue. Suggestions have been made in certain quarters that, the substance be sold and money used to complete Gbumbuna but that to me means, using drug money to undertake our development.
But no! That to me should be the least of imaginations. What then is the difference between the assets got by those allegedly involved in the deal to that of completing Gbumbuna with proceeds from the alleged cocaine? [Drug money indeed, just like we have blood money]
The office of the presidency must be respected, no wonder, that, I recently lashed at supporters of the APC for misbehaving at our recent past Vice President, Solomon Ekuma Berewa in Kono. Mugabe would not embark on a fight with President Koroma or ‘against Africa’s only cocaine President’, as the paper stated in its report. Mugabe would not go that extreme. This is because Ernest is an elected president unlike Mugabe who stole election from his opponent.
But for his land reforms in Zimbabwe, Mugabe must be condemned by all lovers of democracy for it is no secret that the way he is running his country is really unacceptable in a democracy and it would therefore even be wrong logically to compare Mugabe and President Koroma when it comes to governance and the rule of law, not to talk of the observance of human rights.
As human beings, we may have our different political view and opinions on national issues but such differences should not condescend to the point of undermining the mandates of the very people that elected our government officials into political offices. I don’t think anybody would be happy to see the malicious things some people tend to portray because of their political interests on certain issues. I wonder if we are actually not giving out the wrong message to the reading public.
Mugabe, from all indications, came into political limelight, with the people’s mandate being stolen. He was not voted into office but rather, he refused to accept the people’s verdict and therefore anyone that attempts to condemn him on that would be seen as his number one enemy. Ernest never came to power as Mugabe since he [Ernest] was democratically elected.
To challenge this report, somebody sent me an email asking if anybody could give concrete reference with regards which paper in Bulawayo wrote that article. I am asking because I know Bulawayo is the N’debeleland capital of Zimbabwe and the N’debeles
are mostly MDC supporters and Mugabe in all his tyranny will never go to that place at this very crucial point in time. If it was from a paper at Hara or Masvingo, Mutare or some other Mashonaland city then I would have seen some credence in his comments’, the email read
Come to look at it, the Ernest Koroma government must be commended if for no other reason but the fact that, it is under his regime that this quantum of alleged cocaine was discovered. No doubt, this trade had been going on but it was like, the then government never treated the issue with that seriousness it has now been given. So we must stop linking people to it, or even ridiculing others due to attempts to gain political support in the name of journalism.
Mugabe’s crimes in Zimbabwe are of greater magnitude than any other crime on earth. He steals the elections from Morgan Tsvangarai, he suppresses his perceived opponents, he hates the word democracy and he is a bully, therefore, between Mugabe and Ernest, whose leadership is inept? So lets stop demeaning our national offices for God’s sake. Sierra Leone is ours and we must love it. This is what I believe!
By John Baimba Sesay