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Zimbabwe and Ireland: we have so much in common

It gets better and better, every day! Each breaking dawn provides fresh reason to take pride in Ireland, and the scintillating stewardship that the Government has given the people of this -- now, what is the term? -- ah yes, Republic.

It was in the octave before Christmas that we learnt of something truly spectacular in Anglo-Irish Bank: some jiggery-pokery behind the bike sheds.

No doubt you, like me, assumed that the red-hot lads from the Fraud Squad were then sleuthing through Anglo-Irish files from that day onward. For not only was the top dog apparently pocketing the best part of €100m a year in loans, and playing silly buggers with accounts, but the regulator who was meant to watch over these things had either turned a blind eye, or had remained in near-criminal ignorance.

So, yes, the bluebottles would be crawling all over the place with their magnifying glasses and their bloodhounds and their clever hi-tech devices which can scan a computer and find out whether or not it's had a wet dream in the past six years. Simple, simple, simple: the fuzz, surely, had everything in hand.

Not so, as we learnt on Tuesday. No garda officer with a warrant had entered Anglo Irish Bank since the scandal erupted on December 17, nine weeks and six days before.

Look. You can shred the entire Vatican archives and get the Pope to eat the trimmings in that time. Or, in half that period, you can wipe a Langley-load of hard disks, cut them in half, solidify them in concrete blocks, and sink the lot in the mid-Atlantic trench.

The wonder is that a single stone of Anglo Irish headquarters is still standing, because if anyone had wanted to, they could have dismantled the entire building and reconstructed the whole bloody thing, brick by brick, in Harare, where it properly belongs, and still no one in authority in Dublin would have noticed.

Zimbabwe: Ireland. So much in common. The time has clearly come to establish a legislative union between the two countries, to be governed by a hybrid Zanu-FF Party. Indeed, it might well be the case that the Zimbabwean and Irish people are historically linked in hitherto unsuspected ways -- that the founder of Fianna Fail was actually a Zimbabwean, Amen dBalera, and the founder of Zanu PF was a chancer from the northside of Dublin, Robert McGubu.

Certainly, the two countries seem to have achieved comparable levels of probity, over approximately the same amount of time. After all, Charles Haughey -- the prime begetter of the Provisional IRA in 1970 and of the political culture which has brought us to our current glories -- became Taoiseach in late 1979; shortly afterwards, Robert Mugabe -- prime begetter of Zanu-PF, and of the political culture which has brought his country to its current glories -- achieved power in Zimbabwe.

And since then, the two countries have wandered around in their respective interpretations of statehood, until reaching this abysmal condition of bankruptcy, despair and ruin.

So, let's look on the bright side. We have GUBU in common! We can take tips from the embattled Zimbabwean Tourist Board -- two tourists last year: both dead -- and landlocked, turf-free Zimbabwe can take advice from Bord na Mona and Irish Ferries.

Alas, we are no longer very good at evictions (formerly a speciality), but the Zimbabweans have mastered them perfectly, and so they can remind us how to unroof a house, surrounded by loads of picturesque orphans. Conversely, perhaps they can learn from us how to squander hundreds of millions they haven't got on pointless tribunals.

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THEN, we can exchange police units, and our lads can teach theirs to march in uniform in public protest against their own government -- though I rather suspect a certain Zimbabwean police reluctance to that idea. The last dissenting peeler in Zimbabwe was fed live and screaming to crocodiles, foreskin first.

Then we'll have a competition to see which force takes longer to arrive at a potential crime scene. Will it be the Harare police, after the Zimbabwean version of a 999 call (a hand-delivered scribbled note under the door of the deserted Zimbabwean High Commission in Pretoria at 4am) that screams have been heard from the maidservants' quarters in the palace of President-in-Perpetuity, Robert Caligula Adolf Josef Idi Mugabe?

Or will it be, An Garda Siochana? Having heard in mid-December 2008 of colossal financial irregularities in Anglo Irish Bank, -- which might possibly constitute both the greatest fraud and the most massive attempt to manipulate the stock market in the history of the Irish State -- its units arrived with search warrants at the bank's offices, just how long afterwards? Nearly ten weeks.

Gad, sir. Makes yer proud!

So. Answer these two questions, for your BA (Pass) in Eirbabwean affairs. The early 20th century Irish writer Edith Somerville said that the native Irish would never successfully govern themselves, without sooner or later running the country into the ground. Has she, or has she not, been (repeatedly) proved right?

And the Rhodesian prime minister, Ian Smith, said something similar of the black Africans of what is now Zimbabwe. Has he not also been proved right?

Discuss. Answers on one side of the paper, only. Starting, NOW.

kmyers@independent.ie


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