Of Nero, Tsholotsho and the MDC

ZANU PF must be paying very well. It has one ardent supporter called Don Muvhuti who dishes out propaganda every Sunday in The Voice. This week he was calling for the ban of the MDC which he labelled a front for imperialism.

Muvhuti claimed the European Union had renewed targeted sanctions against both the Zanu PF and government leadership at the behest of the MDC and therefore its MPs were not fit to represent Zimbabweans in parliament.
He obviously doesn’t know that MPs are elected and not appointed. There is a difference between chiefs and governors appointed to parliament by President Mugabe and MPs elected by the people.

Nor do people buy the lie that Zimbabwe is under sanctions because of the land reform programme. Those sanctions were meant to punish individuals accused of perpetrating widespread violence during the 2002 president election. Those directly affected cannot visit the countries in which they have been prohibited, whereas the rest of Zimbabweans can travel freely everywhere they like. But then for someone paid to lie, one must find something to fill space.

Another confusionist is Tafataona Mahoso of the Media and Information Commission. Writing in the same publication this week, he said: “The MDC should not be allowed to promise a better life for Zimbabweans while also supporting EU and US sanctions against the same people.”

We hope by people he is not talking about Zimbabwean voters who have made sure Zanu PF remains banished to the rural areas. At least there they can coerce people to vote for them beyond the glare of media publicity. Evil always thrives under cover of darkness.

Meanwhile, Mahoso claimed Miss Tourism World pageants were in the country for “six weeks” and there were no incidents of violence despite the United States warning its citizens to be very wary when travelling to Zimbabwe.
Not that we expected the girls to see or hear anything negative about their host. But it is revealing that peace or lack of it is now measured in terms of what visitors have to say or don’t say about Zimbabwe. Can any situation be more desperate?

But then we have become pastmasters at shooting ourselves in the foot. It was during the same period that Mahoso himself decided to flex his flabby muscle by shutting down the Weekly Times and launching a vicious attack against The Zimbabwean. Not that the two publications offended morality or any national interest, but because they allegedly infringed a self-serving law that has no place whatsoever in a free society, a strange aberration called rule by the law, instead of the rule of law. They couldn’t have missed that.

Dr David Parirenyatwa should count himself lucky. He has won the primaries in Murehwa North to represent Zanu PF in the parliamentary election at the end of the month. Luck because he is certain to win and go to parliament.
But there is nothing to show for his performance since he was appointed as Minister of Health. The Herald recently reported that Harare hospital was “in the intensive care unit” because nothing was functioning. The Saturday Chronicle this week reported on delegation that toured Gweru provincial hospital only to be met by two skeletons that no one could account for. According to the paper, the bodies were believed to have been “forgotten” in a disused mortuary in 1997. The paper also said the refrigeration system in the supposedly “new” mortuary “is now obsolete and bodies are said to be going bad”. What was the point of touring the old mortuary if the new one is also not operating?
Meanwhile the same paper reports that a clinic constructed by the Bulawayo city council in Mahatshula suburb in 1999 still lies idle because there are no medical staff and equipment. Why do the people of Murehwa North think Parirenyatwa will do better after he is elected into parliament? What legacy does the good doctor want to leave behind?

President Mugabe is about to show us how he is boss of all. He has assured his party followers who lost in the primary elections that their continued loyalty will be handsomely rewarded after the parliamentary election. He said those who lost should support the winners to make sure Zanu PF wins the election.

Losers in the primaries would be smuggled through the back door into the Senate, he assured them.

What does that tell us about democracy in Zanu PF? If people said “no” to the losing candidates it means they don’t want them. Only recently Mugabe talked about respecting the wishes of the people but now he turns around to reappoint the same non-performers who have been rejected by the people. Aren’t these clear contradictions?

Headstrong fellows like Jonathan Moyo can kiss goodbye to this presidential largesse.

On Monday the president took over the role of spin-doctor, perhaps realising the boys in the Information department are lethargic. The Herald reported on Tuesday that Mugabe told the Mashonaland West provincial leadership that the MDC was trying to divide the ruling party. He had “read in the newspapers” that the MDC “was bent on dividing the winners and losers” in the Zanu PF primary elections so as to weaken the party, we were told.

This sounds like Munyaradzi Huni kind of propaganda. We have come to expect him to dream up all sorts of conspiracies against the opposition, not a president. This is the same president who has been talking about “witches” and “spies” in his own party. We hope he won’t be telling us next that the Tsholotsho meeting was in fact the work of the MDC. The divisions in Zanu PF have been there for much longer. We are not new to the factionalism in Masvingo dating from well before the MDC was born. Manicaland has not been a Garden of Eden either. Recent cases include Jonathan Moyo’s clash with VP Joseph Msika over Kondozi Farm in which the latter was embarrassingly browbeaten. After that Moyo went on to openly clash with party chairman John Nkomo over multiple farm ownership. He didn’t hide his contempt for party rules if they appeared to get in his way. But that was not all.

When Zanu PF Information secretary Nathan Shamuyarira allowed a Sky News TV crew into the country, Jonathan Moyo was livid. He countered the Sky team with his sycophants from Kenya who wrote glowing accounts about himself.

In all this President Mugabe assumed the role of a later-day Nero who fiddled while Rome burned. He appeared to enjoy the drama from the guarded safety of State House. His silence was not only embarrassing, but irritating for his senior party officials. Moyo was a demigod overnight, an untouchable who could defy all and sundry with absolute impunity.

What the opposition needed to do, were it not in deep slumber, was merely to accentuate these manifest divisions in Zanu PF. But, as we have said, the MDC was comatose. To now accuse them of driving a wedge between different factions of Zanu PF is to give them the credit they don’t deserve.

The Tsholotsho indaba was supposed to be the coup de grace, the final assault on State House. That is when Mugabe realised the gravity of the situation and intervened. It definitely had nothing to do with the MDC, which even at this late hour could not capitalise on the divisions to push forward its agenda.

It’s hard to be master and spinner rolled in one, Mr President. Mugabe nevertheless said this time around Zanu PF wanted “to win with a difference”. He didn’t elaborate. We believe the only win that makes a difference is one that gets the country out of its current isolation. Anything short of that won’t get us anywhere.

Zanu PF political commissar Elliot Manyika reacted angrily to claims last week by Jonathan Moyo that Mugabe was surrounded by “deadwood and tribalists”. Nor was it true that Moyo had single-handedly rescued the party from collapse, Manyika protested at a politburo meeting that endorsed Moyo’s expulsion from the party.

He said Moyo could not have covered 120 constituencies alone. Which is true is way. But Moyo made sure the party got saturation coverage in the state media with those Sendekera jingles while the opposition MDC was attacked incessantly and accused of murders, which could not be proved in court.

Manyika also accused Moyo of “going back to his old ways” of attacking his seniors and government. Well, one doesn’t have to be rocket scientist to know he never reformed. He is a hypocrite. He only admitted there was no democracy in Zanu PF after he was blocked from contesting in Tsholotsho. Yet he spent five years defending the party and government with venom while he lobbied for laws that made it an offence to criticise President Mugabe.

Lowani Ndlovu says his party Zanu PF has been grievously hurt. Its manifesto has been plagiarised by the MDC, he moaned this week.

The idea, he says, is to hoodwink voters so that the two “parties do not differ materially in their approaches, principles and strategies”. The difference, Lowani notes sagely, is that the MDC is silent on the “historical” context of the country’s problems. But Lowani doesn’t want to admit that Zanu PF is trying to solve problems it created in the first place. Much is being made of inflation coming down without any admission that the Zanu PF government’s economic mismanagement pushed inflation out of control. Zanu PF cannot hope to benefit from correcting a problem it created. The MDC is right to point out this trickery.

Zanu PF messed up the land reform programme and it must live with the consequences. Mugabe himself recently said his party promised the people of Zimbabwe “its tried and tested leadership” that will ensure the country “will never be a colony again”. As we have said in the past, this is a tired subject that nobody believes. Instead of talking to the people of Zimbabwe the president is addressing himself to British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Does he seriously believe Blair is responsible for all our problems?

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