Muckraker

Where is Moyo when you need him?


JUST a few days after President Mugabe returned from Lesotho where regional leaders discussed smart partnerships, the government demonstrated what it meant by such arrangements. On Saturday the Herald disclosed that the pu

blicly owned bus company Zupco had “donated” $1,5 billion to Zanu PF.

The company posted an after-tax profit of $117 billion in its last financial year, of which $25 billion went to government as a dividend. This enabled the Herald to use words such as “resurgent” and “turnaround”.

Harare governor David Karimanzira announced that the “donation” would go towards meeting the costs of the ruling party’s so-called National People’s Conference next month.

Is all this entirely above board? Are publicly owned companies allowed to make “donations” to political parties?

Even if it is legal, it is certainly not ethical. Public companies have a responsibility to manage their affairs in a professional and non-partisan manner. Can you imagine the storm of protest in the official media if the same sum had been given to the MDC?

The board of Zupco appears to have decisions dictated to it.

“We are grateful for this gesture,” Karimanzira said. “We appeal to other companies to also assist us.”
Let’s see who else has been suborned!


Muckraker is delighted that Vice-President Joice Mujuru has secured a degree. This was a fitting reward for her perseverance as a late-comer to the educational scene.

Her BSc in Management and Entrepreneurial Development Studies from the Women’s University should enhance her capacity in dealing with small businesses. But in view of her excoriating remarks about mismanagement in parastatals recently we wonder what her view was of those companies using public funds to curry favour with her by placing gushing adverts in the state press.

Ziscosteel, a basket case if ever there was one, Potraz, which can’t tell the difference between a transmitter and a receptor dish, Net*One which offers “the world in your pocket” but has difficulty connecting you anywhere else, and Air Zimbabwe, which has proved very entrepreneurial in charging fares well above other airlines before it was temporarily grounded this week, all fell over each other to offer their fawning congratulations to the vice-president.
 
Even companies that should know better like Barclays and DZL joined the stampede.

On a more disturbing note, the Ministry of Defence, police, and Prison Service added their patriotic voices to the chorus of congratulation.

But of all those offering their praise we were most impressed by Zanu PF’s message. “From Salvation Army to Liberation Army to Development Army”, the ruling party chronicled, leading to the award of a degree in “Management and Enterprenual (sic) Studies”.

Looks as if the “secretary, national executive, and entire membership of the Women’s League” which placed the ad could do with a course at the Women’s University!

And we thought the message from the Zimbabwe Manpower Development Fund was a tad misplaced. Shouldn’t that be woman-power?


Another parasitic parastatal is the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority. This blood-sucking monster levies a charge on tourism players which enables its Zanu PF-connected executives to live comfortably while doing nothing useful to promote tourism.

For example, its website is threadbare. While it describes the ZTA’s primary function as promoting tourism, it is unable to provide dates or venues for forthcoming fairs. Perhaps there aren’t any?

Its officials should be told they have more to do than sitting around in comfortable offices. Telling the world what Zimbabwe has to offer involves more than pretending all is well when it manifestly isn’t!

Somebody should also advise them on the spelling of “sectoral”.

Meanwhile, the government of Zimbabwe’s website remains a mess. A surfer entering www.zim.gov.zw is told that “The requested URL could not be retrieved” alongside a portrait of the president taken many years ago together with “the Honourable JT Mujuru, vice-president” and a picture of their Munhumutapa Offices. The other honourable vice-president appears to be absent, or perhaps, like the rest of them, is simply irretrievable!

Where is Jonathan Moyo when you need him? And what exactly does Bright do all day? Answers on the back of a postage stamp please.


President Mugabe has announced that the discovery of uranium deposits will help address Zimbabwe’s power needs.

This sounds like another of those “Zimbabwe’s woes will soon be a thing of the past” stories.

But as economists were quick to point out, processing uranium requires a great deal more than finding a few deposits. And the technical expertise to then build a nuclear power industry is well beyond Zimbabwe’s competence. It must first learn to transmit power from existing generators.

Has anybody tried calling Zesa’s fault line over a weekend? If you manage to get through, they give you a report number and promise they will be there “today”. The next day there is another promise of same-day service. On the third day there is an admission of diesel shortages and problems with “rain”, meaning lots of customers to visit.

But Zesa’s polite and friendly staff cannot disguise the fact that the company is far from being a modern, efficient utility. Can you imagine a Zimbabwean parastatal managing nuclear reactors? Talk about “duck and cover”.


Not unrelated to this are reports that Mugabe surfs the Internet and can do so from his limo. Muckraker is frankly sceptical that our leader is following in the footsteps of Thabo Mbeki. Next they will be telling us he can drive a car!
And didn’t you like the way the Mirror invented a story about Gibson Sibanda calling for an Ndebele state which then provided Mugabe with a text for his address in Chitungwiza last Saturday, posing as the defender of the nation’s unity?

Sibanda has denied making any such claim. Those with him confirm that he said no such thing. He simply quoted from the party’s constitution on the devolution of power. But that didn’t stop Mugabe from using it to his advantage.

Now we see the true meaning of the Mirror’s servitude.

What we would love to know is who dropped in the word “Lesotho”?

“None of us,” say the Mirror’s staff. They didn’t even cover Sibanda’s speech where the alleged remarks were made. Got them from a “source” you understand!


Muckraker does not want to discourage editors from giving young staffers their shot at op/ed writing. But at the same time such forays need to be watched for purple prose and mixed metaphors.

Here was Robert Mukondiwa in the Sunday Mail last weekend: “The excitement over what is fast being seen as the swansong for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change is by far one of Zimbabwean history and journalism’s most myopic moments. A period not a hint short of an anti-climax. Like birth pangs at the onset of labour, the demise of the MDC was a long time coming. There is little to celebrate or even wonder about as the house that Morgan Tsvangirai, on behalf of a Caucasian master-lurking-behind-in-the-shadows, built. Like a pregnancy, loud before the face for all to see and carried about for a long time and just about to be delivered, the MDC has finally and expectedly come face to face with its death.”

It would be nice to say it got better after this display of prolix. But sadly the author remained “inebriated by the exuberance of his own verbosity”.


Did anybody see a picture of sulky Vivian Mwashita being introduced to the people of Epworth by Vice-President Joseph Msika in the Herald last Friday? She looked distinctly unhappy about being a candidate for the senate.

Vivian is one of several deadwood candidates being nominated by Zanu PF. She distinguished herself in farm invasions on the periphery of Harare in 2000 and then led rent-a-mobs to welcome President Mugabe back from his overseas jaunts at Harare airport. For this service she is now being rewarded. Msika declared she would “work tirelessly to uplift your livelihood”. He didn’t say why nobody had done this before.
The MDC had no common nationalist ideology, Msika declared, saying the party only wanted to “wine and dine with imperialists”.
Where has his party’s “nationalist” ideology got the people of Epworth, one of the most deprived parts of Harare whose shack-dwellers were recently the victims of Operation Murambatsvina?
Mwashita was awarded a 94% disability payment, the Chidyausiku Commission into abuse of the War Victims Compensation Fund learnt, for “loss of appetite”.
We wonder how peckish she is feeling now as all those senate “pecks” beckon!


We enjoyed Innocent Mpofu’s cartoon last Friday. There was the superhighway, all full of a long Western vehicle convoy. On the side of the road trying to barge in from the bush was a little flivver labelled “Africa: ICT

Development” and calling out to the passing convoy: “Give way, please” with an emaciated arm jutting out of the window.

There was no sign that anyone in the convoy was prepared to stop. Rightly so, we reasoned. There was no road or a chimney to suggest a homestead nearby where the car was coming from — highway robbers or a Zimbabwean kombi driver, we wondered?

Lack of a road ordinarily symbolises lack of planning or policy, a predictably Zanu PF phenomenon.
And what sort of access does Mpofu think Mugabe would provide once he got his hands on the Internet?


After running mad with their propaganda on why US ambassador Christopher Dell had gone to the United States, state media have made a sudden change.

Initially they claimed Dell had gone back home to protest at being summoned by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs over his “undiplomatic” remarks on Zimbabwe’s economic crisis. Once this line ran out of steam, it was time to invent another excuse. This week Caesar Zvayi “revealed” that Dell’s trip to Washington was in fact an “annual pilgrimage” by all US ambassadors accredited to Africa.

The startling part was the claim that Dell’s attack on government for mismanagement and corrupt rule was merely to provoke an incident so that he could have something to report back home. How egregious can propaganda get!
 
So the crisis in Zimbabwe is all an invention of the American ambassador? Is that the view of starving Zimbabweans across the country who survive on the generous donations of foreigners? Which part of Zimbabwe does Zvayi come from where Mugabe is seen as a saviour?


Air Zimbabwe has no fuel. This should not surprise those of us who have been in this crisis for the past six or so years. It was bound to come. Whatever source used to provide them with foreign currency, it was bound to dry up eventually given the clueless leadership the country is saddled with. Not even Venezuela is prepared to be helpful.

So the culmination came this week when the national airline was temporarily forced to cancel all flights because there was no Jet A1 fuel. The response from the authorities was uncharacteristically swift. Air Zimbabwe chief executive Tendai Mahachi was immediately given his marching orders.

We don’t know much about Mahachi’s skills or the reasons why he was appointed chief executive officer of the airline in the first place. What we know is that he reportedly drafted Harare council’s turnaround strategy. Ask residents of Harare and they will tell you they are better off without any strategy for all it has done to clean up refuse or provide water.

Then there is the big question: if the issue at Air Zimbabwe is about foreign currency, what is a chief executive expected to do where a whole government has failed over six years? Mahachi has been in charge for less than a year since December.

The answer is to be found in the circus taking place in Chitungwiza where the council is expected to deliver services without money, then it is blamed for incompetence.

Let’s just call it management by blaming.

Meanwhile, somebody please tell the writer of that story and Newsnet reporters that Air Zimbabwe is the national airline, not “airliner”.


Finally, we were interested to see criticism from President Mugabe of the absence of irrigation equipment in Masvingo. He said not much ground had been covered in the provision of irrigation equipment. He wasn’t sure whether this was the result of inaction or poor performance.

Hasn’t he been reading the newspapers recently? There have been detailed reports of concerted raids by police and other state personnel on farms in the Mwenezi area where irrigation equipment has been seized together with other farm implements. It would be useful if somebody could brief him on these developments before another useless committee is set up to “spearhead irrigation development and end chronic food shortages”!