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Self-proclaimed, democratically-elected president for life (his own life and/or the entire population's), Robert Mugabe, is no stranger to stirring international resentment (or as he describes it, foreign jealousy for Zimbabwean élan and his own unequivocal domestic popularity). One might say he even courts it. But his motives are far from mischievous or antagonistic, he is simply pointing out the obvious in a sustained effort to enlighten his citizens about domestic issues by indicating the relevant international context. Now if some disgruntled foreign leaders take offence at his bountifully shedding light on facts, they should consider his much-longer-than-theirs tenure of office as solid proof of his proficiency on such matters and their own ignorance. In any case his pulling rank on them so case closed.


So when he recently admitted that, yes, corruption is an issue for his country but to be glad it hasn't tanked to Nigerian levels, it was in fact a motivational cry for his people to stop bribing their hearts out and start climbing the Corruption Index, lest they end up like their African neighbors. After 34 continuous years in power, he is more than qualified to attest to the systemic nature of corruption and the obstacles in expunging it. Transparency International on the other hand, claiming that in fact Nigeria is (slightly) less corrupt than Zimbabwe, is a mere 21 year old organization, a novice startup of dubious intent and colonial machinations, and as such quite insolent to contradict Mugabe. Let's not even start on the neophyte Nigerian president of less than 4 years (practically a fledging) whining about this.


Similarly when Mugabe proclaimed last year the British are living in a "very cold, uninhabitable country with small houses", he was only pointing out to Zimbabwean home owners that their average two-room dwellings for their 14-member family is quite comfy compared to the ex-colonial masters' over-ground borrows they call home. Not to mention that the typical Zimbabwean straw huts are ideal for the mild local weather and are therefore blessed not to be blasted by the British daily blizzards. Any citizen brave enough (and in possession of a presidential permit to exit the country) to visit the British Isles can attest to this.


You may also recall the period of the rampant hyperinflation, where a bar of shop was selling at one point for a couple of sextillion Zimbabwe Dollars. Again, seen through a historically macroeconomic and geopolitical context, that was not as bad as the during the early Middle Ages, when you had to sell a female offspring for an equivalent quantity, or the Stone Age, where to clean yourself you had to roll around naked in a grass & gravel pit and cross your fingers you wouldn't be eaten alive by jackals.


Mugabe: Contextual Numeracy

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