Mugabe is no Mother Teresa

IF President Robert Mugabe’s claims that chiefs and other traditional leaders in Tsholotsho have disowned Professor Jonathan Moyo are true, then he has scored a double. He would be the first to be rejected at home and away

by the party that gave him infamy.

Last week the president told mourners at the burial of Witness Mangwende at the Heroes Acre that chiefs in Tsholotsho said they didn’t know Moyo until the party leadership introduced him in the district. In other words he is a mafikizolo. Meanwhile the president excoriated mafikizolos with “vaulting ambitions” who, once appointed into positions of authority, quickly forget where that power derives. “Forgetting that the power they wield is derived from the party and government, they feel and behave bigger than the party and government, even challenging its power and authority,” said Mugabe. “These are the mafikizolos, instant men whose entry into politics is against no background.”

Of course Mugabe was completely wrong on the last point. Moyo made his name in the media as a fierce government critic before he was lured with a few pieces of silver and promises of unfathomable luxury into joining the ruling party and becoming Mugabe’s very own right hand man. Unless Mugabe’s definition of “background” is so straitjacketed that it only covers those who went to war in Mozambique. That would leave a lot of the younger politicians in Zanu PF without a background or totemless.

Further proof of Moyo’s precipitous slide into obscurity came from Bulawayo metropolitan governor Cain Mathema. He was quoted in the media as saying Moyo was putting up his campaign posters “under cover of darkness” and was failing to organise any meetings in the district. How the might have fallen! This is the same Moyo who only a few months back could summon ministers and governors to a gathering in Tsholotsho at short notice and even commandeer a private plane to take him there at a government’s expense. But March 31 beckons. He is down but might not be out yet going by other reports from the same district. The man is reportedly working 24 hours a day to shame those who survive on the capricious politics of patronage from which he has just been weaned.

G oing out along with Moyo is former Chronicle editor, Stephen Ndlovu, whom Lovemore Mataire of The Voice accuses of being used to fuel divisions in Zanu PF and to attack senior party officials. “What happened to Ndlovu,” wrote Mataire in his Candid Brief column, “was a bitter lesson for all those journalists who are in the habit of being used as eulogists by individual politicians for self-serving gains.” Unfortunately there are too many in the state-controlled media who need that warning if there is going to be a semblance of professionalism after the damage caused by Moyo.

We always thought it was government business to provide the best resources to schools? Apparently President Mugabe doesn’t think so. He wants to be personally thanked for donating computers to schools countrywide. When he donated computers in Highfield last week, President Mugabe repeated that this wasn’t a government initiative. “It is a personal initiative that I embarked on and I have been assisted by several well-wishers like Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono,” said Mugabe as if he expected to be given a Nobel prize for philanthropy.

No, Mr President. Whatever the motivation, you are only doing what your government should have been doing for the past 25 years. There is no aura of Mother Teresa in these donations.

The president also showed why the country has been regressing since independence by failing to understand what change means. He said he was being told to change yet he didn’t have anything to change. “I am a black Zimbabwean and I can’t change that. I will never be a white man. Neither do I even dream of becoming one.”

These snide remarks were aimed at the opposition Movement for Democratic Change. The point is not about altering one’s skin pigmentation. The wise say it is advisable to change a strategy that has failed to deliver for 25 years. That change might be both mentally and in terms of leadership. Finding scapegoats is an excuse for refusing to admit failure. Moreover, noone has ever envisaged a white Mugabe. We have seen what a black one can do.

We note that Munyaradzi Huni has abandoned his Constituency Watch column in the Sunday Mail. Lowani Ndlovu once asked Huni whether he would be able to cover all the constituencies, and if not, which ones he would cover and the criteria he would use to select these? Those questions were never answered. Instead, now there is the less ambitious but more manageable, Election Watch. Whether the latest project will be more informed than the unwieldy earlier one remains to be seen. But this week’s contribution was less than auspicious.

It started well by debunking the myth that translucent ballot boxes will enable people to know who you voted for, a myth Muckraker hears Zanu PF has been spreading to scare away opposition supporters in rural areas.

The column then quickly degenerated into myth-making of its own. Huni said despite signs that there won’t be enough rains this season, NGOs were going out in the rural areas blaming the “agrarian reforms” for the drought.

The truth is that drought per se would only have a limited impact if irrigation equipment that white commercial farmers had put up on the farms had been left intact. It’s not news that Zimbabwe is a drought-prone country.
That is why there were huge investments in dams and other irrigation infrastructure.

Point number 2 is that Agriculture minister Joseph Made has been lying that the country produced 2,4 million tonnes of maize last season. That would have been enough to feed the nation without going around with a begging bowl. Instead, organisations such as Care International were told to leave us alone because we have enough food to go around. Point number 3 concerns what President Robert Mugabe has characterised as the new breed of cellphone farmers who have turned once productive farms into “weekend braai resorts”. That is a result of lack of planning and falsely assuming that every black person wants a farm -— by virtue of being black. It’s a myth. Being mwana wevhu has nothing to do with farming.

Well-tried Cde Caesar Zvayi, but better luck next time. On Monday he gave us a summary of developments in Zimbabwe’s parliament since Independence in 1980. One of these was the abolition of the bicameral parliamentary system, which President Mugabe now wants to reintroduce to accommodate his comrades who lost in the party’s primaries.

Another major change that Zvayi points out but disingenuously refuses to comment on was the abolition of the 20 seats reserved for whites in the Lancaster House constitution. Although the removal of this privilege for whites meant that the 20 seats reverted to the common roll, in effect Zanu PF made sure it usurped this unfair advantage for itself. Not only was Mugabe made executive president in 1987, his party effectively has 30 MPs before a single vote is cast.

Mugabe appoints governors and the 12 non-constituency MPs at his discretion. It is semantics to say ten seats are reserved for chiefs who are appointed by the Chiefs Council. What original idea can one expect from Chief Jonathan Mangwende? One doesn’t have to be a rocket scientist to tell where their loyalty lies. In other words, while Zanu PF resented white privilege, it saw no anomaly in seizing the same for itself. Which is why it has been argued that we can never have a fair election in Zimbabwe no matter how much government tries some window dressing gimmick about adhering to the Sadc guidelines on democratic elections. Why does a party that claims to have fought for democracy require this criminal advantage over competitors?

We enjoyed the panel discussion on Monday on Newsnet between Supa Mandiwanzira and Ibbo Mandaza on the one hand and MDC’s economics secretary Tendai Biti on the other. Most notable was the fact that Supa is now peddling the same Zanu PF propaganda that Tony Blair wants to topple Mugabe’s government. He insisted on the MDC coming clean on that, as if every enemy of Mugabe was Zimbabwe’s enemy. He was quickly disabused. The MDC was not working with Tony Blair, Biti said. On the statement Blair made to his parliament last year, Biti said he had only read about it in the Herald and in any case he wouldn’t know if Blair had been sober or not when he made the claim. But Supa had something up his sleeve. He said most of the MDC’s financiers had been implicated in corruption and had been forced to flee the country. He didn’t say who these were.

But Muckraker remembers that one of the people who donated $75 million at the Zanu PF congress in Masvingo, Nicholas Vingirayi, made an indecent exit when government started arresting those suspected of corruption. That donation was announced by the president himself. So who is consorting with the wrong type, Supa?

When the two panellists made wild allegations about the MDC’s economic policies, Biti curtly told them to read the party’s Restart programme. And it was evident none of them had read it. What a crowd! The most shocking allegation was that despite winning overwhelmingly in all urban constituencies, the MDC had done nothing to improve service delivery. We wonder what planet Supa has been living on. It is one thing to be a party activist and quite another to be a panellist in a programme that seeks to inform viewers.

Is Supa the only person who doesn’t know what happened to Harare’s first popularly-elected executive mayor? Why was he hounded out of office? Was he convicted of any crime by a competent court of law or was he the victim of Zanu PF political chicanery? Is Supa the only one who doesn’t know that MDC councillors were stopped from carrying out their mandate by Local Government minister Ignatious Chombo?

It is the same minister who suspended them when they would not carry out his party’s destructive policies. They were not allowed under Posa to meet with ratepayers to discuss council business and could not make decisions on finance and human resources without Chombo thrusting his dirty fingers. Then a supposedly enlightened journalist like Supa asks what the MDC has achieved in the past five years. It’s an insult to our intelligence. Instead Supa should be asking what Chombo’s commission chaired by the deserter from Mabvuku has done to improve service delivery. All we read about in the Herald on Tuesday was that it had once again, for the fifth time, deferred indefinitely the announcement of the 2005 council budget. Does Supa need better proof of inefficiency?

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