Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Photo: Jekesai Njikizana / AFP

Zimbabwe president under fire for cracking morbid mortuary joke

Opposition leader Nelson Chamisa has aptly placed an ‘out of touch with reality’ tag on the Zimbabwean statesman.


Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Photo: Jekesai Njikizana / AFP

During the opening of a new mortuary by a businessman in Masvingo – President Emmerson Mnangagwa made several comments that were rather bizarre and fell flat on his audience. 

According to Nehanda Radio, Mnangagwa told the crowd last Friday that there would be a prize for the first family who brought their relative to be buried there. 

Prize for bringing first dead relative

“When I was a member of parliament for Kwekwe, I constructed a state-of-the-art mortuary with 12 bays, very cool inside. I told people in Mbizo that there is a prize for the family that brings its dead first. At that time, there was already someone who had passed on at the hospital and that family won the prize,” said Mnangagwa.

‘Out of touch with reality’

MDC leader Nelson Chamisa said the bizarre joke was evidence that the president was out of touch with reality. 

“In other countries, Mnangagwa’s talk on mortuaries would have gotten him impeached a long time ago. “When you see a president talk like that, celebrating things like that, it shows you he is out of touch with reality and that his days are numbered,” he added. 

Just ‘dark humour’

Nick Mangwana, the Zimbabwean Information Ministry’s permanent secretary stated that Mnangagwa’s comments were simply dark humour with the intent of making light of a taboo subject. 

 “There is something called dark/black humour, or gallows humour, this is legit humour which makes light of a subject ordinarily considered a taboo or sensitive,” he said.

Coronavirus ‘act of God to punish West’

It has been an awkward week for Zimbabwe after their defence minister Oppah Muchinguri said the novel coronavirus was an act of God against the West for placing sanctions on the embattled country.

Muchinguri’s statement was widely shared on social media with some calling her speech an embarrassing reflection of the leader’s ignorance.

“Coronavirus is the work of God punishing countries who imposed sanctions on us. They are now staying indoors. Their economies are screaming just like they did to our economy. 

“They must feel the effects of coronavirus and understand our pain,” she explained.

Zimbabwe has since declared COVID-19 a national disaster and issued a ban on gatherings of more than 100 people, sporting events, weddings and church services. The country has yet to report any official cases.