Ministers should show us which side is greener

NOTHING better illustrates the delusional character of the regime than Vice-President Joice Mujuru’s claim that “the economy is beginning to take off”.

“We have noticed how the

economy is beginning to take off and we are saying everyone should join the recovery train while the sun is still shining because there is no reverse gear,” she said during a tour of Dairibord last week.

Who has “noticed” that “the economy is beginning to take off”? Certainly not any economists we know of.

Inflation is inching up to the 1 000% mark, GDP is continuing its slide, investors and tourists are staying away in droves while forex-generating industries such as tobacco are hitting record-low output. The same goes for any other sector you care to mention such as manufacturing.

So where do people like Mujuru get this information, invisible to the rest of us, that “the economy is beginning to take off”? Very simply, they invent it. Word goes out from the President’s Office that this is the message for the month. And everybody repeats it.

Amazing isn’t it? An entire nation run upon the basis of self-deception.

“The time has come for all our children who fled the country in search of greener pastures to return home where the grass is becoming greener by the day,” Mujuru urged.

Fat chance. Let’s see the children of Zanu PF officials, including ministers, return home first. That will give us an indication of where the grass is greener!

We noted a significant observation by the head of a visiting Indonesian media delegation last week. While the story looked very much like one in which Information minister Tachaona Jokonya hoped the Indonesian journalists would “counter Western propaganda” by telling the “true story” about Zimbabwe, Dr James Pardede, director of Media Partnership in the Indonesian Ministry of Communications and Information, said the government “still needs to convince the international community that Zimbabwe is a safe and conducive place for investment”.

We were delighted that Jokonya and other officials present, including presidential spokesman George Charamba, were able to hear that.

And how can we get it across to Jokonya that for the media to be “pivotal in development” there has to be public accountability? The Indonesian press delegation thanked Zimbabwe for its help for tsunami victims. But have we ever been told how much was raised?

We were impressed by Pardede’s title. Clearly Indonesian officials see their role as one of media partnership rather than confrontation!

Confrontation was very much in evidence this week as the Herald’s Nathaniel Manheru columnist attacked the Zimbabwe Independent for publishing a cartoon featuring a jongwe afflicted by bird flu.

The cartoon by Tony Namate used the disease imagery to “graphically communicate the newspaper’s view of African self-rule”, Manheru predictably claimed.

Since Zimbabweans were foolish enough to contract it on April 18 1980, he argued, “the only solution is mass liquidation”.

“However liberal one is with one’s semantic range, it is clear what comes in for savaging through this cartoon is the fact of Independence itself, not the credentials of those managing it.”

Manheru has evidently been very liberal in his semantic range taking us in one hop, skip and a jump to the doors of mass liquidation!

Since when has the jongwe been a national symbol? Manheru craftily interprets a cartoon on the ruling party’s 26-year record of misrule, corruption and national impoverishment as an attack upon the very concept of a free and independent Zimbabwe.

This is of course all part of a Rhodesian conspiracy to discredit the people’s government, we are told.

Isn’t this the ultimate dishonesty? That commentary upon the betrayal of the liberation struggle by a selfish and ideologically bankrupt elite “challenges the essence of (our) Independence (and) our collective being as an independent African people”.

How convenient! If you think along these lines then all notions of accountability become part of a Rhodesian plot to reverse revolutionary gains so the ruling party has no need to explain why Zimbabweans are today poorer than they were in 1953!

People who were not fighters, mujibhas or chimbwidos, now have the cheek “to excoriate living heroes who today decide who shall lie at Heroes (Acre) and who shall not”.

So, it is the defence of the “living heroes” that our writer is most concerned with. We thought so. He says he “warned” and “berated” Financial Gazette editor Sunsleey Chamunorwa last year for suggesting our Independence was an act in futility. He can now see what his editorial inspired, Chamunorwa is told with a wag of the finger.

But nobody in the press community is going to swallow this self-serving nonsense. Hankering after a lost Rhodesian kingdom is a convenient myth generated entirely by the ruling party. It is the self-appointed guardians of the liberation legacy and their betrayal of that struggle’s own hopes and aspirations that Manheru finds an unsuitable topic for public scrutiny.

Namate deserves the nation’s thanks for smoking out these apologists for a failed state. It is a state that has failed its people and they know it.

Amidst all this spin, we are delighted to have a statement from the Swedish ambassador that the state’s claim that Posa is similar to Swedish press legislation is a “lurid comparison” whose “source” remained “unclear”.

We think we know where it came from: the Stalinist ideologues who deliberately misinterpret court rulings to prevent newspapers from reopening. But skol anyway Sten.

We were interested to read about President Mugabe celebrating the 31st anniversary of his “crossing” into Mozambique. The Herald article was written in hagiographical terms. The president recalled “vividly” that it was on a Saturday when he ascended, sorry crossed, into Mozambique to start the armed struggle. Moven Mahachi had driven him and Edgar Tekere to Nyarufaru estate in Nyanga.

Don’t we recall Sister Aquina playing some role in all this? Or has she been airbrushed out of the story? And the armed struggle had of course commenced 10 years earlier. Mugabe had to sit around in Mozambique for several months cooling his heels before being admitted to the camps by a sceptical Zanla leadership. The Herald omitted these details.

We are keen to know about the man who “pulled out his pistol and fired warning shots” at MDC supporters who were allegedly attacking a house in Glen View two weeks ago. He was wearing a Zanu PF T-shirt, we are told. He managed to drive off to Glen View police station where he made a report.

Who was this Zanu PF supporter and what was he doing with a pistol? The Herald didn’t tell us.
Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena said the police would not tolerate political violence and warned that the “long arm of the law” would deal with offenders.

The long arm of the law however has yet to catch up with Joseph Mwale. Could Bvudzijena please explain why?

In this age of hyperinflation we expect the price increases that assail us every day. But one price hike struck Muckraker as particularly pernicious. The company that runs the airport parking lot has put its charges up to $450 000 an hour, from $200 000. And it warns that anybody parking elsewhere will be clamped or towed away.

Needless to say, the company, Car Safe, is a subsidiary of a parastatal, the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe. So don’t expect any outcry from the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe!

Here we have a state-related company imposing extortionate charges upon a captive public and warning them that they had better pay up or pay $2 million to have clamps removed and $5 million if they are towed away.

Supposing the flight you are awaiting — perhaps because of another state company’s inability to stick to schedules -— is delayed, your $450 000 multiplies every hour. This is iniquitous by any definition and the minister responsible should be made to explain to parliament why the public are being fleeced in this way.

It was good to see our old friend Chris Mutsvangwa back in the news, extolling the virtues of trade with China where he is our ambassador. China was “the factory of the world”, he said and African countries should take advantage of the opportunities arising.

The Herald story then ran on to praise China without telling us whether it was Mutsvangwa’s views being expressed or the writer’s. It included this significant paragraph: “China’s loan and its policy of non-interference has given Angola the power to turn down an IMF loan which attaches stringent conditions on economic transparency, auditing of books and corporate governance concerning its oil contracts.”

So there you have it. The Chinese will relieve countries like Angola of the need to have transparency, auditing of books or good corporate governance. Oil revenues can thus be skimmed by a powerful elite who will vote for China’s foreign policy objectives at the UN. All very cosy you understand!

Mutsvangwa said it was about time Zimbabweans shook off “the zhing-zhong myth”. All the top business schools were teaching the importance of doing business with China, he said. But he didn’t say that the Chinese economy was booming because investors find it a rewarding place to do business. Can we say the same of Zimbabwe which is still locked in the disastrous economics of Chairman Bob’s Great Leap Forward?

Still on China, we were alarmed to read an unpatriotic report in the Sunday Mail that Chinese tourist arrivals to Zimbabwe had declined by a massive 70%. Despite Zimbabwe being granted “approved tourism destination status”, Chinese visitors have notched the “highest decline recorded from any source market”, the paper reported in a rare moment of truth-telling.

Instead, tourists were going to South Africa and Zambia “which have shown purposeful marketing”. This was the version given by Zimbabwe Tourism Authority chief executive officer, Karikoga Kaseke, who said the reason for the decline was lack of appropriate marketing strategies and poor market research.

Yet we were told that the granting of approved tourism destination status would bring us all the foreign currency the country ever needed because of the huge population of China. The said status means China “compels” its citizens to “visit status-certified countries”, said the Mail helpfully. We think China hasn’t been using enough force for its citizens to come and enjoy Zimbabwean hospitality. They have instead made independent decisions once outside the national border. The biggest presence has been in the area of substandard textile products that have ruined the local industry. So much for the Look East policy.

But we have no doubt all this was a result of poor research and putting political considerations ahead of commercial interests. Ask Air Zimbabwe executives.

Last week we ended our column with an installment in which an “alleged lion” had “mould” a resident of Cowdray Park in Bulawayo. We thought this would help the writer of the City Courier story learn a thing or two. But they have repeated the “mouling”, despite all our efforts.

They have even added a blockbuster of an intro to another story. This one is headed: “Free for all as husband snatcher receive thorough bashing.”

Here goes the paragraph: “Cowdray Park residents were treated to free drama when a 35 year old woman was thorourly (sic) beaten Sunday for allegedly (?) another woman’s husband last week attacked by her lover’s wife (name supplied). According to sources, the owner of the husband got wind of her husband’s illicit affair from one of her neighbours.”

PGA. The City Courier is not for students aspiring to learn English. Those wishing to pursue journalism as a career are particularly advised to avoid its toxic fallout.

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