PRESIDENT Mugabe seems worried about the wayward behaviour of his colleagues in the party. He told the party’s central committee meeting last Saturday that senior officials were abusing their positions to amass wealth and properties.

gn=justify>He promised to launch a campaign to weed out such people.

“We shall now be bound to have a cleansing in the central committee,” he said.

We would be surprised if anybody was moved by these threats. In the past they have been just that, empty threats which have been met with sniggering contempt.

How many multiple-farm owners have returned the surplus properties taken during the orgy of looting dubbed fast-track land reform? He has launched several land audits, ostensibly to verify who owns what land or who has more than one farm. The results have remained a closely guarded secret as if Zimbabwe were government’s private property.

We have no doubt that the failure to name and shame is responsible for people ignoring his threats. Let’s have the names and people will change. As it is, the only “collectivity” we have is about looting national resources.

While we are at it, is it not an abuse of authority when Lands minister Didymus Mutasa cancels a land offer letter simply because there is an ownership dispute between a private individual and a senior party official?

The wrangle between Zanu PF national chairman John Nkomo and Langton Masunda over the ownership of Jijima Lodge is getting more and more sordid, with Mutasa trying to circumvent the courts in favour of Nkomo. It doesn’t portend well for Mugabe’s campaign of cleansing.

President speaks on successor,” the Sunday Mail told us. But in fact he said very little apart from the claim that the succession issue would not be decided by witchdoctors but by the people of Zimbabwe.

Mugabe called the succession a “nonsensical thing”. This is despite the fact that he told a Zanu PF congress in Masvingo in 2003 that people were free to debate the issue so long as they did not cause divisions in the party.

Did the people of Zimbabwe choose Joice Mujuru? Is that what happened?

We recall the promise of a free debate being thwarted by presidential fiat in November 2004. Those who disagreed with the imperial decree were denounced and suspended.

Come Saturday, he accused unnamed people in the party of consulting “witchdoctors” so that they could succeed him. Quite strangely, he seemed to imply that he was surrounded by unsuitable people because they lacked dignity. He regretted government having built flats in the Avenues where his ministers and party officials had set up so-called “small houses” and had many children scattered around town.

All these are startling revelations from a head of state about his subordinates. Doesn’t this reflect badly on the leader himself for selecting unsuitable people as his ministers?

The French Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Michel Raimbaud, has called on Zimbabweans to discuss their problems among themselves before trying to engage foreigners. New Ziana quoted Raimbaud as saying at an event to mark Bastille Day: “If you accept to discuss with foreigners as we are, why not talk among Zimbabweans as you are?”

He urged government to re-engage in political dialogue with traditional partners which would allow for the resumption of bilateral relations.

“Why not re-engage in a political dialogue, as we propose, which would allow for the resumption of links which have been broken or slackened, to clear up misunderstandings, perhaps to recognise responsibilities in the times or years gone past, to make up for missed opportunities?” he said.

There is certainly nothing new in these calls. What is strange is why something so obvious has eluded our political leadership.

When it comes to the issue of internal dialogue, even President Mugabe appears to pay only lip service to sovereignty and Zimbabwe’s internal affairs and believes aliens like Benjamin Mkapa will solve our problems. It smacks of hypocrisy. Which is perhaps what the French ambassador was saying in a nicer way.

‘We’ll soldier on,” President Mugabe told a group of what seemed to be largely silent journalists at Zimbabwe House last week.

“We decided to soldier on, seeking assistance from our friends,” he said after claiming the economy was “under siege” by Britain and its allies.

The government was working “flat out” to turn the economy around through programmes like the National Economic Development Priority Programme.

This would be the panacea to the problems the country was facing, he claimed.

We await evidence of that. As for his “soldiering” on, what sort of soldiering does he have to do? Are there any power or water shortages at State House? Does he have to queue for food? What hardships is the Mugabe family having to sustain?

The truth is the country is having to soldier on in the face of the hardships his policies have imposed. And he is still claiming it is all somebody else’s fault. He even managed to resurrect the story about Britain intercepting oil tankers on the high seas.

But don’t worry, it’s all about to get better, he claimed.

“Government has been aware of the hardships in the food area,” he said. Everything had been going up in price. “But inflation is now going down and it’s the start of the turnaround of the economy.”

So, a marginal decrease in the rate of inflation is interpreted as inflation going down!

Needless to say the president failed to provide any other evidence of the “turnaround” which only he can see. There was now more production of goods, more foreign currency and greater investment, he claimed.

But the strangest part of his homily came when he spoke about political violence.

“It worries us that some people are violent,” he said.

Since when? And where is Joseph Mwale? The see-nothing, say-nothing journalists present didn’t ask.

How in all seriousness can a self-respecting reporter let a politician get away with something like that? And when the president talks of the good life not coming from the British, didn’t it occur to anybody to ask what sort of a good life he has brought us!

Why have a million Zimbabweans chosen Blair’s Britain in preference to Mugabe’s Zimbabwe?

We noted the reference to “people engaging in gold deals”. Does this mean the one-time anointed heir, who fell out of favour but was reported to be creeping back in, is now out of favour once more?

Back to witchdoctors, Nathaniel Manheru thinks that because Jonathan Moyo contributes the occasional op/ed piece to the Zimbabwe Independent he is therefore editing the paper. Does the same apply to Manheru at the Herald?

Manheru didn’t used to be so unkind to his former boss. Indeed he was slavish in his devotion cheering on every depredation by Moyo against the independent press. Now he sings a different song.

But we can be assured that if Moyo was editing Manheru’s column he would know that it was Harold Wilson, not Harold Macmillan, who was British prime minister in 1965. He would also be able to locate the Aswan Dam!

Geoff Nyarota also needs some editorial assistance. Malawi became independent in 1964, not 1963, and a republic in 1966. Many Commonwealth countries chose not to become republics at independence preferring to wait a few years.

Geoff should also know that “Highfields” should read Highfield. There is only one of them! Finally, Robert Mugabe was released from detention in December 1974, not 1975.

Meanwhile, Muckraker is looking forward to receiving a copy of Nyarota’s book, Against the Grain. Arthur Mutambara has already discovered two errors, Geoff reported in his column last week.

Geoff returned the favour by finding a major error in the professor’s CV.

At a conference in Aspen, Colorado, attended by a number of prominent Zimbabweans, Geoff says Mutambara was “wrongfully described” as president of the MDC, “which quite clearly he is not”!

Geoff claims David Coltart concurred and improbably agreed to inform the conference convenors of Mutambara’s “correct status”. But Geoff was mortified to discover that no “correction” was made to the programme.

Mutambara, we are told, spent the rest of the conference avoiding Nyarota!

little article on Tuesday claiming the United States and its European Union allies were “riled” by China’s inroads in Africa caught our attention. The writer tried in vain to present Africa as a homogeneous entity where the Chinese premier’s visit to seven African countries means Zimbabwe has not been “snubbed”.

But that is the plain, painful truth. Why would he skip Zimbabwe when we have been all over the world pretending that China was the kingpin of our “Look East” policy?

China has been trying to “help”, yes but probably on the basis of tenuous historical ties dating back to the liberation struggle. But the Chinese must be aware that they are trying to help a country that is hell-bent on ruining itself.

For diplomatic purposes, there was therefore nothing to be gained by soiling their name by getting too close to a leper. Hence Chinese premier Wen Jiabao, president Hu Jintao and foreign minister Li Zhaoxing all gave Zimbabwe a very wide berth indeed during their recent tours of Africa.

Having said that, there is no denying that Kwame Nkrumah must be turning in his grave watching the balkanisation of Africa in its scramble for new colonisers. His dream of a United States of Africa appears to have been sacrificed by petty-minded megalomaniacs entrapped in the throes of neo-colonialism.

Finally, the Sunday Mail carried a picture last weekend of people fast asleep at the Umdala Wethu Gala in Bulawayo. Not just one or two but dozens of

Evidently a good time was had by all!

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