Of Trump, Duterte and Ramatšella
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.