All for a mess of pot­tage

The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe) - - OPINION & ANALYSIS - Mabasa Sasa Edi­tor

NEARLY 50 peo­ple have died from cholera in Zim­babwe in re­cent weeks. An­other 10 000 were in­fected. Cen­tral Gov­ern­ment has rolled out a vac­ci­na­tion drive in ad­di­tion to other con­tain­ment mea­sures, ahead of longert­erm ob­jec­tives to pre­vent re­cur­rence.

The pri­vate sec­tor and donor com­mu­nity have stepped up, as­sist­ing with cash, med­i­ca­tion, equip­ment and sun­dries.

Mem­bers of Par­lia­ment have also added their voice to the na­tional ef­fort. But not in the ex­pected way. They want their ser­vice ve­hi­cles. Some of them say cholera is the re­sult of mis­man­age­ment by lo­cal au­thor­i­ties, and Gov­ern­ment should not di­vert money meant for their cars to the in­ter­ven­tions.

Oth­ers say con­di­tions of ser­vice can­not be tam­pered with be­cause of a dis­ease out­break. They call it a “trav­esty”.

Zim­babwe is cry­ing for fix­ing. MPs are cry­ing for cars.

The “trav­esty” our hard­work­ing and pa­tri­otic MPs face to­day re­minds me of a cer­tain fel­low called Oliver Cromwell and how he dealt with such char­ac­ters.

Cromwell di­vides opin­ion, 360 years and one month af­ter his death.

The English, in one poll, rated him the 10th most in­flu­en­tial Bri­ton of all time. The Ir­ish loathe him for try­ing to stamp out the Catholic “threat” as he pur­sued his dream of cre­at­ing a Pu­ri­tan Com­mon­wealth.

Cromwell be­lieved he was di­vinely ap­pointed to end the monar­chy, Catholi­cism and other per­ceived evils that he strongly felt would be the death of the Bri­tish Em­pire.

You see, Cromwell rose to promi­nence at age 40, giv­ing rise to self-in­duced ec­cle­si­as­ti­cal hal­lu­ci­na­tions of be­ing some sort of con­tem­po­rary “Pu­ri­tan Moses”. Moses fled Pharaoh’s palace at age 40 for en­light­en­ment via burn­ing bushes in the desert, later to re­turn to Egypt to de­mand “let my peo­ple go!”

Cromwell landed a seat in Par­lia­ment, soon com­manded the army, took on the monar­chy, pushed for the king’s ex­e­cu­tion, and got him­self de­clared Lord Pro­tec­tor of the Com­mon­wealth of Eng­land.

He waged a geno­ci­dal war against the Ir­ish, raz­ing farms and con­tribut­ing to the death of an es­ti­mated 600 000 peo­ple out of a pop­u­la­tion of 1,4 mil­lion.

By any mea­sure, Cromwell was a nasty char­ac­ter. But that is not why I am re­minded of him this week.

On April 20, 1653, faced by MPs not quite un­like some of ours to­day, Cromwell said enough was enough - and more.

I will quote his en­tire speech as he dis­solved a Par­lia­ment more con­cerned with the con­tem­po­rary equiv­a­lent of cars even as cholera dec­i­mated lives.

“It is high time for me to put an end to your sit­ting in this place, which you have dis­hon­oured by your con­tempt of all virtue, and de­filed by your prac­tice of ev­ery vice.

“Ye are a fac­tious crew, and en­e­mies to all good gov­ern­ment. Ye are a pack of mer­ce­nary wretches, and would like Esau sell your coun­try for a mess of pot­tage, and like Ju­das be­tray your God for a few pieces of money.

“Is there a sin­gle virtue now re­main­ing amongst you? Is there one vice you do not pos­sess?

“Ye have no more reli­gion than my horse. Gold is your God. Which of you have not bartered your con­science for bribes? Is there a man amongst you that has the least care for the good of the Com­mon­wealth?

“Ye sor­did pros­ti­tutes have you not de­filed this sa­cred place, and turned the Lord’s tem­ple into a den of thieves, by your im­moral prin­ci­ples and wicked prac­tices?

“Ye are grown in­tol­er­a­bly odi­ous to the whole na­tion. You were de­puted here by the peo­ple to get griev­ances re­dressed, are your­selves be­come the great­est griev­ance.

“Your coun­try there­fore calls upon me to cleanse this Augean sta­ble, by putting a fi­nal pe­riod to your in­iq­ui­tous pro­ceed­ings in this House; and which by God’s help, and the strength he has given me, I am now come to do.

“I com­mand ye there­fore, upon the peril of your lives, to de­part im­me­di­ately out of this place.

“Go, get you out! Make haste! Ye ve­nal slaves be gone! So! Take away that shin­ing bauble there, and lock up the doors. In the name of God, go!”

Need I say more?

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