In lotto a miss is as good as a mile

Media and Information Commission c

hair Tafataona Mahoso thinks there is “an immense ideological war” going on in Zimbabwe. “The corporate sector and its sponsored media do not want the popular nature of the current fight against corruption to become clear. They prefer the opposite impression, which their media are working hard to create, the impression that the fight against corruption is or should be strictly elitist, technocratic and managerial…” wrote Mahoso in the Sunday Mail this week.

Mahoso wants to give the impression that the private media have been trying to shield corporate malfeasance and would rather that it was not exposed. Far from it, Zimbabweans from all walks of life have been calling for tougher measures to deal with corrupt elements in our body politic. Until President Mugabe decided it was time up, the impression had been created that so long as you stayed under the protective arm of Zanu PF you could behave as you liked.

It was only after the exposure of the monumental fraud at ENG Asset Management Company that government started to get serious about fighting corruption. That in part explains why there are more Zanu PF chefs than anybody else being dragged to the courts. It is possible that cases of impropriety may be going on in the corporate sector without being reported because they are difficult to detect. But people are more readily irked by such cases in the public sector, not to spite Zanu PF but because they are financed from the public purse.

We all know about the Willowgate motor vehicle scandal, the Pay For Your House scandal, the War Victims Compensation scandal and the amassing of farms by well-connected Zanu PF officials against government’s own one man, one farm policy. Mugabe in July last year ordered those who had grabbed more than one farm to surrender them within two weeks. There was no response to that ultimatum. Minister for Special Affairs in the office of the President responsible for Lands, Land Reform and Resettlement John Nkomo last week said those who ignored calls to surrender extra farms faced possible prosecution. You can be sure most of those refusing to surrender the extra farms are Zanu PF chefs. Just wait till we get the list.

Contrary to claims by Mahoso that the fight against corruption “has exposed the imperial forces and their stooges as the real enemies of the ordinary Zimbabwean”, people are wondering why it took government this long to launch the fight? Zimbabweans are wondering whether it will get real “bloody” to expose the big fish. Is Zanu PF capable of self-regeneration or is the current hype about corruption Mugabe’s electoral plank as we approach another parliamentary election?

 We were startled by a new political outfit calling itself MDC Supporters for Democracy, which until last week was unknown to most of us, clamouring for MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s head. Sunday Mail political editor Munyaradzi Huni claimed this was a “powerful arm of the opposition party”. Why has it remained virtually unknown for this long we wonder? Its leader, one Kurauone Chihwayi, is a frequent letter writer to the Sunday Mail. All along he has been calling himself president of some obscure debating society. Presumably this was to camouflage his deep involvement in opposition politics.

Huni might care to explain to us what position Chihwayi occupies in the MDC since its formation four years ago. “While we agree with all of you (who are these?) that democracy in Zanu PF is non-existent, we also believe we must take an audit of democracy in our own party, MDC. The status quo within the MDC is continuously taking a nose-dive and we seem to be facing more problems than Zanu PF,” wrote Chihwayi in his letter which he decided to forward to Huni.

Probably the MDC will have enough time to answer Chihwayi’s questions. But with founders such as Chihwayi, we are not surprised the likes of Huni are having a field day over alleged splits and factions in the MDC.

 Zimbabwe’s ambassador to Austria Tirivafi Kangai was roped in this week to sing for his supper after the European Union last week renewed targeted sanctions against the country’s political leadership. The EU said Zimbabwe failed the test in five key areas: politically motivated violence, commitment to free and fair elections, commitment to a free press, an independent judiciary and an end to invasion of private properties.

In an article carried in the Herald on Monday, Kangai claimed there was no legal basis for the allegations because Zimbabwe was not given the chance to defend itself. “Talk of politically motivated violence does not hold water anymore,” said Kangai. “There have not been any significant cases of political violence for the past two years…”

It is the first time that a senior Zanu PF official has acknowledged that there was ever politically motivated violence in the country. Why the past two years? What was happening all along?

A lot has been said about the verdict passed by the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) concerning the conduct of the Gutu North parliamentary poll. Everybody pronounced them peaceful and that they set an auspicious precedent for future elections. The impression was given that Zimbabweans have a propensity for violence, all that is needed being an election to act as a catalyst. What is not explained is the role of the candidates themselves who take an electoral challenge as a declaration of war. Which is why nobody, especially in the Zanu PF camp, wants to explain why there was only limited violence in Gutu North.

What we are not told is that Josiah Tungamirai (Zanu PF) and Casper Musoni (MDC) are relatives and agreed from the outset that there would be no bloodshed over a political post. The Standard carried a story on February 15 of Tungamirai ordering war veterans leader Joseph Chinotimba and his band of violent thugs out of his constituency after they harassed Musoni’s staff at his Zouma café at Mpandawana.

The verdict of ZESN about the Gutu North poll, an exception rather than the rule, is being sold to the world as a sign that Zanu PF is capable of winning a peaceful election. Why then would they be so keen to deploy misguided and indoctrinated youths from Border Gezi camps to harass people if the idea is to win over people’s minds and not simply get their vote?

 Muckraker wonders whether anything needs to be said about government’s commitment to a free and critical press when the Daily News and the Daily News on Sunday have been hounded out of the streets. The fact that other media houses registered with the Mahoso-led Media and Information Commission as required by the draconian Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act does not make it good law.

While the directors at the Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe played it by their “conscience”, perhaps other publishing houses opted to err on the side of caution, knowing they were dealing with madmen who have no scruples about throwing out of work journalists they helped train. They did not want to give a hostage to fortune. And the Daily News paid heavily, not because it committed any defined crime but because it refused to register under a very bad law. The fact that government has found it necessary to accredit journalists and register publishing houses goes to show its opposition to a free press.

 “Scribe narrowly misses lotto jackpot”, read a Herald heading on Monday. That was an own story about Alfred Chagonda who was among some 81 punters who predicted the five correct numbers in last week’s lotto.

In a lotto game there is nothing like “missing just by one number”. A miss is as good as a mile because the numbers are hardly ever likely to be the same again no matter how many times Chagonda plays the game.

But that’s less risky than moonlighting for Voice of America as his colleagues discovered. Except that for Robson Sharuko, Rex Mphisa and Tendai Ndemera the numbers were more predictable.

 Was young Garikai Mazara trying to sell us a dummy using Thomas Mapfumo’s name? On the front page of the Sunday Mail there was a teaser claiming “Mukanya to consider political career”. Inside on the Sunday Mail Entertainment: “I’m fit as a fiddle and ready for politics…” was presumably attributable to Mapfumo although there was no more than a fleeting reference to politics. All Mapfumo said was he was thinking of “joining active politics” perhaps as an independent MP because he doesn’t want to join any political party. Another Shake Maya in the offing or simply somebody thinking aloud?

But Mapfumo had no kind words for the noisy young musicians foisted on our homes in the name of local content. “I feel sorry for the young musicians that are being groomed these days. That is not the way music should go,” said Mapfumo.

“Most of them are copycats, they are trying to copy American hip-hop artistes but who is going to listen to them?”

That is what we have been saying. If I want to listen to American music I buy the original. Similarly if I want to listen to South African music I know where to get the original. We wonder if those who proposed the 75% local content ever thought about it.

Except for Shona or Ndebele words here and there, there is nothing local about both the content and form. The first lady Grace Mugabe betrayed the whole charade at her husband’s birthday celebrations in Zvimba two weeks ago. She couldn’t recall what a mouse is called in Shona. The nearest she got was maMice. When somebody in the crowd whispered “mbeva” she immediately switched to maMbeva. Of course we cannot blame the tutor entirely. Studying has never been the first lady’s idea of entertainment!

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