Yesterday in the comments, Willy pointed out that a lot of people think the @ZANU_PF Twitter account is fake. “Fake” in this context means “not originating from officials of ZANU-PF”—the ruling political party of Zimbabwe headed by dictatorial octogenarian Robert Mugabe—and in this case it is mostly an aesthetic judgment. Back in April, @ZANU-PF seemed to be fueling rumors of Mugabe’s death, an odd choice for the mouthpiece of a party that spends a lot of time insisting its leader is totally healthy. The use of the appellation Cde (for comrade) before everybody’s name seems like something out of screwball comedy, too. Then again, the previous president of Zimbabwe was named Canaan Banana, so who knows what the fudge is going on?
On Friday I mentioned the Twitter feed of ZANU-PF, which Robert Mugabe has put to such purposes as apologizing to Zimbabweans killed by his motorcade. The collision of Mugabe and social networking makes for a complicated mix of the horrifying and the frivolous, like when a clown drives drunk. As Morgan Tsvangirai will tell you, Mugabe is a brutal dictator. At 90, he is the last of the generation that shook off colonial rule in Africa. He is terrible at actually running his country, however, and Zimbabwe has spent the last ten years in the grip of a stunning economic crisis that has featured, along with the famines, several consecutive years of multi-hundred-percent inflation. ZANU-PF is killing Zimbabwe, both in spirit and in traffic, which makes their Twitter feed problematically hilarious.
I don’t know about you, but I would like to be liked. I may not be very good at it, but in my interpersonal relations I try to pander to others as much as possible. Shame and sycophancy are my watchwords. The panicked need to feel that other people like me—even when I do not like them—exerts a serious check on my behavior. Imagine how free I would be if everyone hated me. If there were no hope that anyone who knew me could possibly like me, I could act however I pleased, the way death row inmates are always filling balloons with their own feces. If I were a public jerk instead of a secret asshole, I could live a life of rare liberty, saying and doing whatever I pleased with no regard for decency or the feelings of others. Today is Friday, and our link roundup contains a bunch of people like that.
The Combat! blog offices are still relocated in beautiful* Des Moines, where a general atmosphere of holiday cheer/blood toxicity pervades. While I stare fixedly at a cup of coffee without perceiving how much, if any, time is passing, check out this article about how Robert Mugabe is still trying to seize absolute control over Zimbabwe. Mugabe is 86 years old, so it’s either manipulate a fragile African democracy or read The Family Circus again. For the last several years, economists have argued over whether Zimbabwe is experiencing hyperinflation or the highest inflation in the history of money, and the entire country is a testament to what one man not formally educated in economics can achieve when he insists on making all decisions himself. But for my money, the filet of the article is this sentence:
Mr. Charamba, the president’s press secretary, rejected the assertions [that Mugabe’s party would intimidate voters], saying there would be ‘an all-out deployment to assure there is no violence’ by any party.
That’s some primo intimidatory doublespeak, right there. Don’t worry, though: ZANU-PF just found a massive diamond field. That should stabilize the region.