Muckraker

 

ANC must host Hardtalk with Zanu PF


SOUTH Africa’s ANC will need to do some hard talking with Zanu PF if it wants a free and fair election in Zimbabwe.

ANC secretary-general Kgalema Motlanthe last week expressed concern tha

t Zimbabwe’s main opposition party, the MDC, required police clearance to hold rallies. He said this was an “anomaly” that impeded the party’s activities.

Zanu PF’s information secretary Nathan Shamuyarira said the ANC’s views were welcome as they were “given in good faith”. But the police don’t see things the same way. On Sunday they arrested MDC MP for Makokoba, Thokozani Khupe and 60 party supporters under the notorious Public Order and Security Act for holding an unsanctioned meeting.

Police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena insisted that all parties must notify the police if they want to hold meetings. He said the “main reason” was for the police to “mobilise resources” to deal with “any eventualities that might occur”. He didn’t say what resources were needed to cope with a private meeting. He didn’t even say why they were not mobilising similar resources to stop intra-party violence in Zanu PF.

Why was Khupe and her supporters arrested when there was no “eventuality” reported? This is partisan policing and it needs to be recorded. Zanu PF will need to reform if it wants to win some modicum of legitimacy in the March election. So long as there are iniquitous laws such as Posa, there can never be free and fair elections in Zimbabwe and President Mugabe will remain haunted by the tag of tyranny and illegitimacy. He will remain a global outcast even with a landslide victory. Zanu PF needs to understand that.


The Scrutator columnist in the Sunday Mirror is furious with new US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for describing Zimbabwe as an “outpost of tyranny”. As a descendent of slaves taken from Africa, Rice was not expected to speak the language of President George W Bush and the rest of white America, says Cde Scrutator.
 
Because there are so many poor African-Americans in the US, Condoleezza Rice should feel a sense of shame about being in the echelons of white power at the White House, reasons Scrutator.

His greatest fear is Rice’s stern definition of democracy as enunciated by Natan Sharansky in his “town square test”: if a person cannot walk into the middle of the town square and express his or her views without fear of arrest, imprisonment, or physical harm, then that person is living in a fear society, not a free society.
 
“We cannot rest until every person living in a fear society has finally won their freedom,” declared Rice last week.

We are not surprised that Scrutator is alarmed. Zimbabwe can never pass that test and Scrutator is a beneficiary of the oppressive system.

Scrutator described Rice as one of the lucky few who, “finding themselves so handsomely removed from the majority of their oppressed lot, pretend a new reality is born for all”.
 
How ironic indeed. And where does that leave Cde Scrutator who has evidently sworn to see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil of Zimbabwe’s tyranny? Where does that leave Joyce Mujuru whose elevation to vice-president is touted as a symbol of victory for all women? Just another charade by Zanu PF we presume?


Zanu PF chairman of the election directorate Elliot Manyika will need to mind his language to avoid controversy. He has had a lot of talking to do lately because of his party’s chaotic primary elections which began last week. There was a rerun in Mberengwa East where Minister of State for State Enterprises Rugare Gumbo had lost to Godwill Zishiri. Gumbo protested vehemently, prompting the rerun, which he won.

Manyika was clearly relieved at the new result, proclaiming last Friday: “In Mberengwa East Cde Gumbo has finally won.”

No doubt there would have been another rerun had he lost again!


Talking of which, Lowani Ndlovu was in celebratory mood about the Zanu PF primaries. He said there was an enthusiastic response to the voting without mentioning that there was widespread voter apathy in all the constituencies. The average turnout was 5 000. That would be a chilling warning for the ruling party were it not for lack of decisive leadership in the opposition MDC.

Thus enthused a bemused Lowani, the Zanu PF primaries went beyond giving members the right to vote, “but also showed how the party took the voters’ choices seriously”.

Presumably those choices include removing Jonathan Moyo from Tsholotsho to make way for a woman? Another involved manufacturing charges against Kindness Paradza in Makonde to make way for Leo Mugabe. Vote counting was “frozen” until the right candidate won.

If that’s what Zanu PF calls democracy they can keep it.

Finally, what impressed Lowani was that where “there were suspected anomalies investigations were carried out briskly and reruns ordered”.
 
As in Mberengwa East where Gumbo “finally won”!

But Lowani doesn’t explain that the complainants were the contestants, not the electorate. In the end democracy was the biggest victim in Zanu PF’s sham primaries because, as Victor Chitongo pointed out last week, “the outcome did not reflect the will of the people”, a key tenet of democracy in practice.


Farming equipment manufacturer Massey Ferguson’s regional director for Africa, Nick Wright, says his company is ready to supply up to 500 combine harvesters if government can pay the foreign currency required for such an order. This was after his meeting with Agriculture minister Joseph Made, who said the country was in desperate need of tractors and planters.

Wright told the Herald they had “fruitful” discussions with Made.

“We can safely say that Zimbabwe’s agriculture is in safe hands,” he said. What hands are those? Made’s? We have learnt to be extremely circumspect in dealing with any assurances given by Made since our narrow escape from starvation in 2003.


We would be interested to know who funded Baffour Ankomah’s recent trip to Zimbabwe. We ask because some of his conclusions published in the Herald on Wednesday appear to have been lifted wholesale from Department of Information handouts including the facile claim that Jesse Helms was behind the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act.

It would have been easy enough for Baffour, as a professional journalist, to have established who the authors of this measure were in Congress. Instead he just repeated what he was told.
 
He referred to the US Act as “cantankerously-titled”. Does he have any idea what cantankerous means? And commenting on the Economist’s survey that found Zimbabwe the worst place to live in the world, he said: “You want to laugh when you see such politically-motivated surveys.”

That’s what we did Baffour when we saw your journal’s “survey” of readers that found President Mugabe was the third-placed “greatest African”.

And we liked your choice of emblematic beneficiaries of land reform — General Constantine Chiwenga and his wife Jocelyn! But next time you come to Zimbabwe please open your eyes: in the same edition of the Herald that carried your Pollyanna piece was a story on the complete collapse of services at Harare Central Hospital.
Couldn’t what was spent on your PR trip have gone to the Health ministry?


Last week Lands minister John Nkomo described Jonathan Moyo as “unbalanced” after he and Dumiso Dabengwa were accused by Moyo of barring him from contesting the Zanu PF primaries in his much-beloved Tsholotsho.
 
Nkomo was surprised at Moyo’s naivety that he didn’t know such a decision could be made only at party level.
 
Muckraker is bound to agree with Nkomo after Moyo’s gratuitous attack on the Standard newspaper this week for carrying a story of a Zanu PF probe of Moyo’s alleged abuse of Arda equipment. He claimed his CV had been “treacherously” released to “Tony Blair’s Standard” newspaper and wondered aloud “what other party documents” had been released to the Blair “camp” by “cowardly” and “dishonourable” senior Zanu PF officials.

We would be happy to receive evidence of the Standard’s connection to Tony Blair from the increasingly delusional professor. Why is he seeing witch-hunts everywhere?

As for leaking documents, he should know better. After all he leaked his response on the Tsholotsho declaration to the Bulawayo Chronicle which went on to fill two pages with the story. The response was supposed to go to the Zanu PF politburo and the president but he made sure it became a public document. That could have sealed his fate as a mafikizolo who doesn’t care about party procedures. As we have warned in the past, if the professor had cared to listen, it’s almost a contradiction in terms to be Zanu PF and independent-minded!

Interestingly, we only got to read snippets of his so-called CV in the party organ, The Voice. It revealed that all his referees in the party were deceased. So no one could vouch for his longevity in Zanu PF. Did he join Zanu PF before or after his studies in California, US? What was his status when he was writing for independent newspapers?


Has the state media discovered where Iran is yet? Most government organs think it is in the Far East.

The forging of closer ties could be considered part of President Mugabe’s “Look East” policy, we were told.

Newsnet went one step further and declared Iran to be in the “Eastern Bloc”.
 
The Comintern, it would appear, is still alive and well at Pocket’s Hill. But whether theocratic Iran would want to be considered part of this defunct formation is open to question.


Of all the ripostes to Condoleezza Rice, we liked Stan Mudenge’s the best.
 
“She had the chance,” he said, “of acknowledging that the government is sending out positive signals to the people through a decrease of cases of open violence against political opponents.”

So only open violence has decreased? Perhaps we should be thankful for small mercies. As Aziz Pahad put it this week, “no one should expect 100% compliance with the (Sadc) guidelines”!

As for Mudenge’s claim that Zimbabwe is the “second longest multi-party democratic state in Africa”, we are still trying to work out who the others are. There is of course Botswana (1966), but what happened to Mauritius (1968)?

Rice should have seized the opportunity to inform the anti-Zimbabwe lobbyists on political developments in the country, Mudenge said.

Indeed she should. She should have told them about the Aippa amendment, NGOs Bill and the passage of legislation declared by the parliamentary legal committee to be unconstitutional.

Western countries had been demonising Zimbabwe for embarking on an “aggressive” land reform programme, New Ziana helpfully added.
 
The exercise was meant to bring about “equitable” land distribution, it said.
 
So that’s what we have now is it?


Zanu PF has been providing us with its view of how the judiciary should work. Writing in the Sunday Mail, a commentator with “vast experience of public policy”, Tinashe Mawarire, explained that members of the judiciary who disagree with government’s “policy thrust” should resign.

The commentator cited President Mugabe’s 1999 address to the nation when he said those members of the judiciary who wanted to assume political roles should vacate their office.

Mugabe was responding to an invitation from the judiciary to uphold the rule of law. This followed the abduction and torture by the army of journalists Mark Chavuduka and Ray Choto. A court-ordered enquiry by the police into that episode has still not reported six years later.

But it is useful to have it on the record that judges who disagree with government policy should resign. That’s something else Condoleezza Rice could have told the “anti-Zmbabwe” lobby!

Meanwhile, government’s media policy is a mess with Jonathan Moyo’s hard-drive down. Before we had Mudenge’s maladroit remarks in response to Rice, the BBC reported Didymus Mutasa calling her a fascist — a clear case of the pot calling the kettle black!

Mutasa then proceeded to get Iran and Iraq mixed up. Before that, George Shire had a go at Rice. The BBC dubbed him an “analyst”. It should have asked him why he doesn’t come home!

Meanwhile, foreign correspondents wanting accreditation to cover the election have no idea who to apply to because it is difficult to find anybody in charge.


The “no going back” mob may have been interested in a BBC Online report from Nairobi last week. It said the Kenyan authorities had begun to repossess millions of hectares of public land acquired illegally since Independence in 1963.

This follows the submission to President Mwai Kibaki of a report on land-grabbing under the previous regime.
 
“The powers vested in the president to make grants of government land have been grossly abused over the years,” the report said, and had “cost the country dearly in economic, social and political terms.”

Since the new government came to power in 2003 and formed the commission, in effect an audit, senior politicians including former president Daniel arap Moi have been forced to disgorge their ill-gotten gains. Zanu PF: NB!


Muckraker was amused by a headline in the Saturday Herald: “Undenge springs surprise”.
 
In fact it turned out to be a Zanu PF primaries story. Undenge has won the right to contest Chimanimani against an MDC MP cruelly imprisoned for shoving the Minister of Justice in a parliamentary fracas.

It comes as no surprise at all to learn that Undenge is an affiliate of the brutal party that misrules us. What surprises us is that the Herald for so long insisted he was an “analyst” of some sort!

Now analyse that.


Gideon Gono occasionally comes up with some entertaining imagery.

“There are indeed some banks whose health has been destroyed irretrievably,” he said recently, “and it is not the intention of ZABG, which is owned predominantly by Zimbabwean taxpayers, to carry institutional corpses aboard its cabins.”

We rather thought, in regard to parastatals, that’s exactly what the taxpayer has been doing!

Then we had Simbi Mubako, our ambassador to the US, claiming that “the long-suffering people of Zimbabwe have begun to heave a collective sigh of relief”.
 
Fuel queues, frequent power cuts and shortages of basic commodities are no longer common phenomena. “True, glitches may occur, but the cause is quickly spotted and services are soon restored. Life has begun to resemble the normalcy Zimbabweans have grown to expect.”

Not difficult to tell he doesn’t live here!

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