Congratulatory messages came pouring in last week for President Robert Mugabe’s 90th birthday.
This is as it should be — 90 is a ripe old age.
But Muckraker’s attention was caught by the Air Zimbabwe (AirZim) advert that said “We cherish your visionary, insightful and bold leadership.”
This is probably appropriate as AirZim is getting a lot of business from Mugabe shuttles; what with increased visits to Singapore.
Something the unadventurous Tazzen Mandizvidza failed to ask — among a whole host of questions that went begging — was why Mugabe needs to be treated by Singaporean eye specialists when Zimbabwe has world-class specialists on its doorstep?
Dr Gurumutunhu, for instance, is widely regarded by his profession. It would be interesting to know what the relative costs are including transport!
Moreover, Bona is no longer at university in Hong Kong. What’s really going on here?
And while AirZim is busy grovelling with its congratulations, perhaps it could tell us about the airline’s plans for the future including the cannibalising of one of its Airbus planes. It will now concentrate on its Boeing fleet, we are told, where workshops are to hand and pilots fully trained.
According to NewsDay, AirZim now has a mixed fleet of three Chinese MA60s, three Boeing 737s, three Boeing 767s and two leased Airbus 320s which are based in Johannesburg.
After all, we did notice the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe boasting that its mandate was “to promote the safe, regular and efficient use and development of aviation inside and outside Zimbabwe”.
One wonders how they would do that with an unreliable and grounded fleet, let alone a bankrupt and crippled national airline.
And “of course”, Tazzen’s special ZBC-TV guest was Mugabe. Could there be anybody else jostling for attention on that date?
We did have the editor of the Herald complaining that nobody had taken up George Charamba’s offer of the previous week to publicly confess his sins and thus exonerate himself from any wrongdoing.
“Generally speaking,” the Herald said, “his take was that all culpable people must be decent enough to admit their failings and resign their posts”.
“Zimbabwe,” it seems, had “a dearth of honourable men and women”.
“The plethora of revelations of abuse of office and outright criminality by public officials has not induced a single person to own up, apologise and call it quits — except for Mr Charamba,” the Herald dutifully pronounced last week.
With Charamba (we are not aware he has resigned) calling the shots at Herald House, you can understand the reluctance of the guilty — and some who are not — to become victims of a powerful official who is running his own agenda and may need to divert any heat that is generated by the current imbroglio.
Meanwhile, we are enjoying Herald columnist Nathaniel Manheru’s account of colonial history even though some may find it heavy going. What nobody can miss is the contemporary narrative that situates Khama as a friend of the British as early as the 1880s.
“Khama and his people had largely converted to Christianity thanks to Robert Moffat’s efforts in the process predisposing them towards the white man’s views, values and pursuits.”
In other words, Cecil John Rhodes had his ducks in a row by the time he occupied Mashonaland. And we can blame Khama for letting the British in through the back door!
This is patriotic history as Terrence Ranger would call it.
Meanwhile, perhaps President Mugabe could grasp the fact that investors have the right to choose where they place their funds. Zimbabwe has over the past 30 years become a poor country when in 1980 it was a middle-income state on a par with Ghana and South Korea.
“Mugabe is right. We have no apologies,” the Sunday Mail proclaimed as if it was heading a grand nationalist cause.
All the successful African states are headed in the opposite direction. In particular Botswana and Mozambque have overtaken Zimbabwe. Everybody seems to have recognised that cold hard fact.
Except the Sunday Mail! The state-controlled media is happy to contribute to or even cover up this record of failure. It is a shame.
What can we say of a newspaper chain whose new best friend is a buffoon like Julius Malema? When Russia and China make some routine polite noises to mark the president’s birthday, the public media become hysterical with delight as if this was the first time somebody has been nice to them!
Anyway, isn’t the African Union deputy presidency and Sadc deputy chairman a routine appointment selected by rote? It was Zim’s turn or Buggins’ turn, as they say. So what’s the hype about?
Over to Kiev
Events in the Ukraine on TV this week have been fascinating to watch.
On Sunday the inhabitants of the capital trooped out to the presidential palace which had previously been the private domain of President Victor Yanukovych (who is on the run) and very much off limits to the public. It contained the presidential zoo where some overfed animals were on display.
The citizens of Kiev had not seen an ostrich before it seems. Nor had they seen the boathouses lining the shore of the lake in the grounds. The architect of the tasteless Soviet-era palace declined to identify himself, unsurprisingly.
The public then sauntered through the palace interior where a number of top secret documents could be found. Some had found their way into the river that flowed through the grounds. The president himself could not be found, but later turned up in the (Russian-speaking) Crimea.
On Saturday night his possessions had been trucked out of the capital and that was a sight to see as truck after truck carried Yanokovych’s goods into the darkness.
There is always a dramatic end to dictators’ rule. Beware!