Muckraker

Moyo scoffs at politics of patronage

THE sun has finally set for Professor Jonathan Moyo. As a Mugabe sidekick, at least. It was a long noon indeed since that fateful Tsholotsho indaba. But, as Moyo himself has indicated, it is also a new dawn for the w

ily professor who has finally decided that it is time to find another ticket to “heaven” (parliament) as an independent.

President Robert Mugabe reacted by giving Moyo the boot on Friday. Moyo should not expect a flood of tears from the party that gave him the limelight he so badly craved in the first place. Media publicity is perhaps going to be his greatest loss.

For the past five years he has hogged the state media for all the wrong reasons. It was fine for the party so long as he was fighting the opposition MDC and the privately-owned media. He could close down as many newspapers as he liked. But the moment he started to tread on the big toes, even venturing where angels fear to tread, fools too could tell his days were numbered. The hourglass finally struck on Friday when he defied Mugabe and stretched Zanu PF’s “guided” democracy to breaking point.

Despite thanking President Mugabe for making him taste the trappings of political power, Moyo was in no mood for plea-bargaining. He said he had taken the decision to stand as an independent as a matter of “principle”. He said “lack of democracy in the ruling party was a threat to national stability.

“It is my considered view that arbitrary rule by any one ruling party is a breeding ground for tribalism and corruption and puts at risk our sovereignty, democracy and national development,” Moyo was quoted as saying.
That statement must come as a shock to most media practitioners who view Moyo as the greatest threat to media plurality and democracy this country has seen. He fashioned the most repressive media laws for any country laying a claim to democracy. He cost hundreds of journalists their jobs in the name of Zanu PF, not democracy.
 
The Media and Information Commission was his brainchild so that he could have total control over all journalists, whether privately-employed or falling directly under his portfolio as information minister. Through the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, Moyo sought to ensure it was he alone who had access to all the information he wanted while he denied the entire country access to the same. That evil legislation bears his full imprint.

Moyo also had another revelation. He claimed to have almost single-handedly saved Zanu PF from extinction in 2000. Everybody had abandoned President Mugabe, he said. We believe the owners of the party will have ample time and space to respond to that.

But the statement is important for other reasons. Everybody knows Zanu PF won the past two elections by using violence, intimidation and harassment of the opposition. Now Moyo has the nerve to boast that he was the author of those evil strategies. And he wants to tell us about democracy and principles when he should know that people were effectively robbed of their choice in 2000 and 2002.

Cynics are bound to ask what principles Moyo was espousing as a Mugabe spin-doctor and Zanu PF deputy information minister in the past six years? What has since happened to those principles? How far and in what way has Mugabe changed?

Muckraker believes Moyo should have the courage of his conviction and admit that he saw an opportunity in Tsholotsho to fulfil a political ambition. It was too tempting to resist. And he invested a lot of money in it, at one time donating computers valued at over $100 million in one week.

This is evident in his snide response to Mugabe, a man he has flattered to deceive since joining the ill-fated Constitutional Commission in 1999. Responding to his letter of dismissal, Moyo said he had “come to understand and appreciate that it is far better to be with the people and to work for them than to be hostage to the whims and caprices of the politics of patronage”. And so Tsholotsho has become the weapon with which to fight the entire Zanu PF system!


Not that we begrudge Moyo his decision. No, it is only to show that the system appeals to all those who are venal.
 
Why did it take him so long to realise there was no democracy to talk of in Zanu PF when that is what everybody has been saying? It is well and good to be self-righteous about the “politics of patronage”. But Moyo was one of its most unashamed beneficiaries and never had any moral qualms while it lasted. He never had scruples about closing down newspapers or getting journalists arrested on specious charges just to please Zanu PF and its leader. He was a most willing tool of an evil system. He was the most strident proponent of its new doctrine of a regime, which he claimed represented our whole culture and way of life.

Now we hear he received at least 500 Net*One Easycall lines to use in his election campaign. As a man of principle he should know there are more deserving people out there who can’t get the lines because “they are not available”. How come he can commandeer 500 of them at once and still pretend to be disgusted by a system that affords him such privileges as a minister? Is he now going to return those lines and stand in the queue like the rest of us poor mortals? Let’s walk the talk Cde Jonathan, otherwise there are glaring contradictions there.


President Mugabe finally admitted this week that all is not well in our schools. Claims about high enrolment figures contrast sharply with the low skills level and poor pass rates, especially in rural schools.
 
He said his government should be “ashamed” because of its failure to provide adequate resources, especially books.

He said he was particularly disappointed that in some schools he had visited, six pupils shared a single textbook.
 
He admitted that the highest pass rate was often 29% while it could be as low as 3% in some schools.
 
Now that the truth is forcing itself out we hope something will be done. There is no point in boasting about huge enrolment figures that churn out semi-literates who are only fit for use by politicians after “national service” training at Border Gezi camps. Unfortunately for these abused youths, there is no second chance. The country needs skills to move forward.

Quite significantly, President Mugabe said this shameful pass rate was a serious indictment on the Ministry of Education. We hope that that destructive force, the enemy of quality education, Aeneas Chigwedere, is listening and will leave private schools alone to do their job.

Perhaps Mugabe should enquire from Chigwedere why his ministry had a 29% surplus in the last financial year when schools do not have books? The other reason why schools do not have books is because Chigwedere believes that those raising fees are racist. Does the president know that government schools still charge $425 a term, courtesy of Chigwedere?

That is the aptitude of your minister, President Mugabe. He needs serious remedial lessons and your direct supervision before he stands for Hwedza in March.


Talking of shameful performers, the president also had hard words for what he called “cellphone” farmers who have turned the farms they got from government into “weekend braai resorts” while the nation starves. He said the honeymoon for such landowners was over because the nation needed to attain the benchmarks it had set for itself.

The trouble, as usual, is that there is more bark than bite in the president’s threats. Hundreds of recalcitrant multiple farm owners are still using them as “weekend braai resorts” because they know nothing will be done.
 
There was irony in that the president made these remarks while being conferred with an honorary doctoral degree in agriculture.

There is nothing to show for it Mr President.


The Department of Information announced last week that the accreditation of journalists to cover the Miss Tourism World had been waived. The often paranoid department said there “would be no restrictions for any journalists” covering the event.

In a letter to the head of media planning of the beauty pageant, Michael Orji, Information secretary George Charamba let the secret to this gesture out of the bag.

He said the move was meant to “facilitate effective coverage” of the event and to ensure all foreign journalists “discharge their duties without hindrance”.

This is all a sham. It exposes a leadership that is cynical about how journalists work. More importantly, we are being told all we ever needed to know about the object of the inordinately restrictive media regulations, that is, they are meant to hinder journalists’ discharge of their duties when such duties do not massage the ego of some government official or flatter Zanu PF.

News that the event would be “beamed live across Europe” was too seductive to resist. The beauty of the pageants will presumably reflect the beauty of the Zanu PF government.

Unfortunately, there don’t appear to have been many journalists interested in covering an event that doesn’t teach them a thing about real life in Zimbabwe. There is an election coming at the end of next month and many will be waiting for a similar carte blanche to enter the country.

You can’t eat your cake and have it. We expected Zanu PF to be cleverer than this cheap trick. Nobody is fooled by the sight of starry-eyed young girls strutting about holiday resorts in blinkers while state media managers pull the reins towards the most sweetly-perfumed corners of Zimbabwe.


Meanwhile The Voice reporter “wavered” between “waivered” and “waived” about this policy inconsistency. The reader was left with all three to decide which is which. This despite correctly quoting Charamba’s letter.


President Mugabe last week lambasted those who have left the country to work abroad. This was during a tour of Mt Darwin where he donated computers at Kajokoto, Chiswiti and Mukumbura secondary schools where he said he wanted our children’s education to match that of the developed world in technology.

He said Zimbabweans were a unique lot because they were the only ones who went to “Britain to demonise the country and its leadership”.

He said they did menial jobs such as scratching the backs of elderly whites. These are the same people that Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono is appealing to to send their hard-earned money home while government insists they are not eligible to vote.
 
Gono should count himself luck to have such a dependable ally for his Homelink initiative.

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