In a statement made public recently, a month ago
President Mugabe decried the high levels of
corruption in his country saying Zimbabwe was
almost becoming “like Kenya or Nigeria.”
Addressing military chiefs during his 90th birthday
celebrations on March 15, the veteran Zimbabwean
ruler asked: “Are we now like Nigeria and Kenya
where you have to reach into your pocket to get
The comments came to light only this week and
caused a storm in social media where the elderly
Zimbabwean President was roundly condemned for
being “unbrotherly” towards the two African
But President Mugabe’s comparison is a statement
of how Kenya is viewed by world when it comes to
“We have almost become a yardstick by
which others compare themselves against,” said
anti-graft campaigner and fierce government critic John Githongo who welcomed Mugabe’s denigrating remarks on his home country.
President Mugabe’s comments left a sour taste in
the mouths of many Nigerians and their
government quickly summoned Zimbabwe’s
ambassador to Nigeria to explain his President’s comments.
“We want to present the strongest protest in that
statement; not only does it not reflect the reality in
our country, but to come from a sitting President of
a brotherly country is most unkind and very
dishonourable,” said Dr Martin Uhomoibhi, the
Permanent Secretary of Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs ministry.
However, Kenya seemed to have laughed off the comments.
There was no reaction either from the State House or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho
and State House spokesman Manoah Esipisu did not
respond to Mugabe’s denigrating gaffe possibly in reverence and consideration of his “very,very advanced age”.
Kenya was ranked number 136 out of 177 countries
in the 2013 Transparency International Corruption
Perception Index, while Nigeria was ranked 144.
Zimbabwe was placed at position 157.
Nigeria recently overtook South Africa as the
continent’s biggest economy and their bitter
complaint is largely seen as an attempt to exercise
the diplomatic muscle that comes with the position.
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