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Editor’s Memo

Afflicted by severe cognitive dissonance

By Vincent Kahiya

EVER heard of a condition called cognitive disso

nance? It is an expression used to describe a personal state of detachment from reality. Which is why it is often applied to politicians!

You can observe it in the guy at a party who tells terrible jokes. Everyone laughs uncomfortably while he proceeds to tell another one.

President Mugabe’s address to the central committee as reported in the state media at the weekend was as confusing as it was intriguing. There were traces of cognitive dissonance and outright fantasy which underline the ruling party’s inability to engineer an economic turnaround. Mugabe said people were suffering and the cost of living was continuously going up.

“Life is difficult, yes, but freedom can never be negotiated,” he said. He then went off at a tangent to say our freedom did not come about because the British wanted it but because Zimbabweans wanted it.

There are two issues raised here: the people are suffering and freedom cannot be negotiated. Are these two related? Perhaps the message is that Zimbabweans cannot have it both ways — having full stomachs and being free.

I am confident party leaders listening to the president, if they were listening at all (I will come back to this later), were not only enjoying their freedoms but labouring on full stomachs too.

More dissonance. President Mugabe said given the good rains this season, Zimbabwe had demonstrated to the world that it could produce enough food to feed its people. But in the same address, we hear “there has not been enough food, we do not have all basics…” What is the actual position regarding food in this country?

This is the hallmark of cognitive dissonance. Politicians afflicted by this condition are not aware of complete self-contradictions or the utter lack of logic. The ideas are rooted in confusion at best, delusion at worst.

Then we were told that mining firms which were not interested in the government policy of indigenisation should get out and allow others to come in. The president said it was the party which made policies and gave directions. But then he provided useful disclosures on the composition of the party. He told us every time the party meets they are talking about “restructuring, restructuring and restructuring… Do you people listen?” he wondered.

Mr President, if they do not listen to you, what about poor villagers in Musambakaruma?

Worse still this party which is supposed to come up with “policies and directions” on crucial issues like mining legislation is not only ridden with “divisions, disunity, selfishness (and) individualism” but it also has among its senior members makorokoza (illegal gold panners) and men and women of loose morals who do not listen to serious warnings on HIV and Aids.

“Zviiko zvamuri kuita (what are you doing)?” Mugabe asked of his lieutenants. But he has faith in them. They will lead the turnaround. They are expected to bring down inflation to single digit levels, revive closed companies, etc.

Meanwhile, I was happy to receive news this week that our news editor Dumisani Muleya had landed the prestigious Free Press Africa Award at this year’s CNN/MultiChoice African Journalists Awards in Mozambique.

I am sure you will agree that this is a fitting honour for arguably the best political news writer in the country today who has proved to be a courageous fighter in the battle for a democratic society in Zimbabwe.

As noted by British Speaker of Parliament Michael Martin last year when Muleya was awarded the House of Commons Speaker Abbot Award: “One day we hope Zimbabwe will have its freedom like the cousins you have in South Africa. And when that freedom is won, people will make the observation that you (Muleya) were at the forefront of the fight and struggle for democracy, justice and peace in your country.”

I have always believed that real fighters for media freedom will demonstrate their struggle in their works. Dumisani has done this through thoughtful and well-researched articles, something young political reporters should emulate instead of cheering on makorokoza, multiple farmers and multiple spouse owners and those who stand for every moral wrong in society today.

Well done Dumi and congratulations to another great Zimbabwean son, Desmond Kwande, for winning the Mohamed Amin Photographic Award.

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