Of Trump, Duterte and Ra­matšella

Lesotho Times - - Scrutator -

LO­CAL pol­i­tics and is­sues can be so tir­ing. So I am fo­cus­ing else­where this week. Amid our own po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic vi­cis­si­tudes, we some­times pay scant at­ten­tion to ac­tiv­i­ties un­fold­ing in other far flung parts of the world. But there are some very in­ter­est­ing de­vel­op­ments in the world of in­ter­na­tional pol­i­tics worth not­ing.

Fifty three days from to­day, and be­fore we all know it, one Don­ald J Trump could be the next pres­i­dent of the United States. Be afraid; very afraid.

Al­ready, one Ro­drigo Duterte has al­ready as­cended the pil­lars of power to be­come pres­i­dent of the Philip­pines. I pre­sume many of my fel­low Ba­sotho would not have heard rea­son to know of a coun­try called the Philip­pines.

The Philip­pines is one of the un­like­li­est coun­tries in the world made up of 7 000 is­lands and tucked in the West­ern Pa­cific rim of south east Asia. It is of course the land of Madame Imelda Mar­cos.

The Philip­pines’ own Marie An­toni­ette with 5 000 pairs of shoes. Madame Mar­cos and her hus­band, Fer­di­nand, were the ar­che­typal loot­ers of state cof­fers who did not know the dif­fer­ence be­tween the na­tional trea­sury and their pri­vate bank ac­counts.

They were booted out in dis­grace via pop­u­lar protests in this very pop­u­lous coun­try of more than 100 mil­lion peo­ple in 1980 be­fore Fer­di­nand per­ished in ex­ile.

If any Mosotho has never heard of the Philip­pines, and I am sure the ma­jor­ity of us haven’t, you should surely know about this coun­try by now be­cause of the an­tics of its new 71-year old Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte who was sworn into of­fice end of June and has al­ready etched his coun­try’s name in the brains of ev­ery lit­er­ate world ci­ti­zen who fol­lows the news.

What does Trump and Duterte have in com­mon? They are the most un­con­ven­tional politi­cians ever, whose philoso­phies are an­chored in ha­tred, misog­yny, ho­mo­pho­bia, racism, in­tol­er­ance, stu­pid­ity and just about ev­ery vice you can think of.

What do Trump and Duterte have in com­mon? They share their traits with one Mosotho politi­cian. In fact they may even de­rive theirs from him. No prizes for guess­ing!!!

What do Trump and Duterte have in com­mon? They are the most pug­na­cious, tru­cu­lent and vile char­ac­ters the world has ever seen.

They are both out­siders who surged to the pin­na­cles of pol­i­tics in their coun­tries with cuss-filled vows to do ev­ery unimag­in­able thing they can.

Let me start with Duterte since he is al­ready in power. In the world of Ro­drigo Duterte, any­one who dis­agrees with him is a “son of a bitch” or “a son of a whore”, two ep­i­thets the Filipino pres­i­dent uses in­ter­change­ably to de­scribe his de­trac­tors.

Duterte was elected on one of the most pop­ulist agen­das the world has ever seen. He vowed to kill tens of thou­sands of crim­i­nals he ac­cused of mak­ing the Philip­pines hell. True to his word, and less than three months af­ter he was sworn in, Duterte has presided over the mur­der of 2 400 al­leged drug deal­ers. These “drug deal­ers” in­clude a three -ear old boy and a five-year old shot by Duterte’s rouge po­lice.

Alarmed at this ex­pe­dited rate of ex­tra-ju­di­cial killings, the leader of the free world, Barack Obama, promised to raise alarm dur­ing a planned meet­ing with Duterte at the just ended G20 sum­mit in China.

But when he learned that Obama in­tended to ex­press his con­cerns over these state sanc­tioned killings dur­ing their ren­dezvous, Duterte went wild. He called a press con­fer­ence and ranted at Obama, calling the US Pres­i­dent “a son of a whore”. In his char­ac­ter­is­tic suave fashion, Obama did not hit back but cour­te­ously called off the meet­ing with Duterte.

Just be­fore he was elected pres­i­dent, Duterte found him­self in a traf­fic jam in the cap­i­tal Manila. The jam was partly caused by Pope Fran­cis, the head of the Catholic Church, who had just popped into town with his huge en­tourage and was be­ing driven from the air­port in a huge con­voy.

A-frus­trated Duterte, who was de­layed in the traf­fic jam, then called a press con­fer­ence and de­scribed the Pope as a “son of a bitch” for caus­ing the traf­fic jam.

Just be­fore the in­ci­dent with Obama, the Amer­i­can Am­bas­sador to the Philip­pines said some­thing Duterte did not like. In typ­i­cal fashion, Duterte called a press con­fer­ence and de­clared the Am­bas­sador a “gay son of a whore”.

If you think this is too much to ex- pect from a pres­i­dent, hang on.

Dur­ing his cam­paign, Duterte called a press con­fer­ence to an­nounce to his coun­try’s cit­i­zens that be­fore they vote for him, he wanted them to know that he has plenty of mis­tresses and boasted about his Vi­a­gra fu­elled af­fairs with these many girl­friends.

Duterte said he wanted to as­sure all cit­i­zens that if they vote for him, he would not steal from the fis­cus, as so many politi­cians do, to bankroll his mis­tresses. He said his many mis­tresses would not cost the coun­try a lot be­cause he would take them to cheap board­ing houses and short stay ho­tels for sex.

That only should have ended Duterte’s cam­paign. But it was not to be. Duterte caused fur­ther dis­gust in in­ter­na­tional diplo­matic cir­cles by declar­ing he would have wished to first rape a beau­ti­ful Aus­tralian mis­sion­ary killed in the Philip­pines in 1989.

If any Filipino thought that their pres­i­dent would change tack once elected in of­fice, they soon dis­cov­ered they were wrong. His foul­mouthing of any­one who dis­agrees with him has wors­ened.

The lat­est vic­tim is UN Gen­eral Sec­re­tary Ban Ki Moon whom Duterte has also ridiculed as “a son of a whore”. When the Catholic Bish­ops in the cap­i­tal Manila com­plained about the ex­tra ju­di­cial killings of sus­pected drug lords, Duterte railed against them brand­ing them “sons of bitches” and warn­ing them not “to mess around with me”.

Dur­ing his term as mayor of Davao City be­fore he be­came pres­i­dent, thou­sands of res­i­dents sus- pected of crime were mur­dered by Davao mu­nic­i­pal po­lice: In­stead of send­ing his con­do­lences as the First Res­i­dent of the city, Duterte ridiculed the dead as be­ing “all trash”.

Words know no bounds in the world of Ro­drigo Duterte. While all his words and ac­tions would thus far have sounded the death knell for any politi­cian else­where in the world, Duterte’s pop­u­lar­ity in his pop­u­lous coun­try has soared to more than 80 per­cent.

En­ter Don­ald Trump. When Trump launched his bid for the nom­i­na­tion of the Repub­li­can Party for the 8 Novem­ber gen­eral elec­tion, vir­tu­ally no­body gave him a chance. Rightly so. Not even his wife, cats and dogs would have thought Trump would win the nom­i­na­tion of the GOP (grand old party of Ron­ald Rea­gan). Trump launched his cam­paign with acer­bic vit­riol against for­eign­ers, par­tic­u­larly Mex­i­cans liv­ing in the USA brand­ing them as rapists, mur­der­ers and crim­i­nals.

Trump also cas­ti­gated women in gen­eral as be­ing “ugly fat pigs”. Any­one who has fol­lowed Trump’s cam­paign would by now have heard the to-shi­est lan­guage to ever em­anate from any as­pi­rant of the high­est po­lit­i­cal of­fice in the free world.

Trump has since mocked the dis­abled, ha­rangued jour­nal­ists and used the nas­ti­est lan­guage to scold even those who dis­agree with him from within the Repub­li­can Party.

Not sur­pris­ingly, a num­ber of Repub­li­can lu­mi­nar­ies in­clud­ing for­mer Repub­li­can Pres­i­dents, Ge­orge H.W Bush and Ge­orge W Bush (the fa­mous fa­ther and son team) stayed away from the con­ven­tion that en­dorsed Trump in Cleve­land, Ohio.

The gover­nor of Ohio, John Ka­sich, one of the main bat­tle­ground states that Trump must win to be­come pres­i­dent, also stayed away.

But more bizarrely, Trump has not re­lented on his prom­ises to build a wall on the US bor­der with Mex­ico to os­ten­si­bly keep “the rapists, mur­der­ers, and crim­i­nals” out of the USA. Trump is not only in­sist­ing that he will build this wall, but he has vowed that he will get Mex­ico to pay for it.

It’s like Ja­cob Zuma, or any other like-minded loony, cam­paign­ing to win the South African pres­i­dency on the pre­text that upon get­ting into of­fice, he will build a wall around Le­sotho to keep away hun­gry Ba­sotho from ac­cess­ing South Africa.

But then Zuma, or any other can­di­date, dares de­clare that not only will he build the wall, but he will also get Le­sotho to pay for it. What balder­dash. It’s like ask­ing you to build your own prison.

The tragedy of Trump and Amer­ica and the world is that, with madame Hil­lary Clin­ton bat­tling with trust is­sues, Trump has a real chance of win­ning the Amer­i­can pres­i­dency. In fact, the lat­est polls now show Trump and Hil­lary in a vir­tual tie. Just like the Filipinos, when ev­ery­one would have thought that Amer­i­cans would give Trump the thumbs down over his out­landish rhetoric and gib­ber­ish pol­icy pro­pos­als, the op­po­site has hap­pened and Ntate Trump is a few breaths away from the pres­i­dency. What is this world com­ing to?

Back home in Le­sotho, the gar­ru­lous Bokang Ra­matšella, has de­clared that he wants to be prime min­is­ter. When I first read this dec­la­ra­tion, I laughed my lungs out.

How can a leader of a fac­tion, within a fac­tion, of an­other fac­tion, of some­thing called the Le­sotho Peo­ple’s Congress party, a one seat for­ma­tion, ever think of as­cend­ing to the high­est throne in our land. Still, I am in­clined to be­lieve there is more like­li­hood of Ntate Mo­sisili’s en­tire cabi­net get­ting struck by light­ning dur­ing one cabi­net seat­ing than there is of Ra­matšella be­com­ing Prime Min­is­ter.

But with the Filipinos giv­ing the throne to Duterte. The Amer­i­cans on the verge of giv­ing the throne to Trump, any­thing is in fact pos­si­ble in this weird world. What else can stop Ba­sotho from hand­ing the throne to Ntate Ra­matšella?

Par­tic­u­larly in light of the fact that his vile rhetoric against Scru­ta­tor, Mathew Har­ring­ton, Thomas Tha­bane, Basil­don Peta, among many per­ceived en­e­mies, ri­vals if not sur­passes that of Trump and Duterte.

Just like Trump and Duterte, many Ba­sotho have never heard of Ra­matšella, mak­ing his as­cen­dancy to the premier­ship of Le­sotho a real pos­si­bil­ity. I think the sooner I start in­gra­ti­at­ing my­self to Ntate Ra­matšella the bet­ter.

But then, I still can­not stop imag­in­ing a world with Duterte as Pres­i­dent in the Philip­innes, Trump as Pres­i­dent in Amer­ica and Ra­mat­sella as Prime Min­is­ter in Le­sotho. Just imag­ine these three world lead­ers at the helm of the three most im­por­tant coun­tries in the world. An al­ter­na­tive to in­gra­ti­at­ing my­self with Ra­matšella is for me to get my­self a one-way ticket to Mars.



RO­DRIGO Duterte

BOKANG Ra­matšella

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