Beware of Zanu PF chameleon near you

ON February 25 this newspaper published a story headed “Time/RBZ negotiate deal”. On March 13 Sunday Business published a story headed “Time Bank and RBZ in negotiations”.

Our st

ory in businessdigest was written by Shakeman Mugari while the Sunday Mail’s was authored by Augustine Moyo. Both stories concerned Time Bank challenging its placement under a curator by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and an attempt to reach a less costly out-of-court settlement.

Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, it is said. But we would have expected Augustine to at least acknowledge his indebtedness to businessdigest instead of quoting nameless sources to mask a reproduction of Shakeman’s story. Plagiarism is a serious act of misconduct in any field of endeavour, more so in journalism. For once one is made to feel there was merit in having the Media and Information Commission. But then the disappointment quickly dawns when Muckraker sees MIC chair Tafataona Mahoso turning his face the other way when such transgressions are committed by state reporters.

Either way the MDC can’t win. Zanu PF propagandists seem determined to believe their own lies rather than face facts. MDC economics secretary Tendai Biti two weeks ago denied that his party was working with British prime minister Tony Blair in the so-called regime-change agenda. This was in response to a mischievous question by Supa Mandiwanzira during a television panel discussion.

Biti’s answer didn’t please Zanu PF mandarins. If he had said they were working with Tony Blair they would have lynched his party in the state media. He denied the claim. That has not stopped them trying to lynch Biti in person in their anti-Blair campaign material. Their epitaph now is: “Defeat political dishonesty, vote Zanu PF”.

Read between the lines to get the message, especially when the party promises regular fuel supplies and “more foreign currency inflows”. From disenfranchised Zimbabweans in the diaspora!

What exactly is Ivy Kombo’s claim to fame? Nothing more than the myth the media has created around her as a so-called gospel diva.

The problem with our excitable reporters is that someone becomes a diva even with just one song, and that is also thought to reflect on the performer’s spiritual values.

That is the disaster we are having with Ivy who has courted undue controversy ever since she released her first gospel song. Her social life and behaviour are said to be unbecoming. She has not helped matters by trying to play holy.

But last week she stretched our tolerance too far. We don’t know how she performed at the Koffi Olomide show. Her pictures in the papers were less than flattering. A Herald caption told us she “looked tired after a good performance” as she sat near two colleagues one of whom was holding three cans of beer. The Saturday Mirror carried another picture of Ivy from the same function in which she looked clearly groggy and unable to open her eyes.

She defended her role in the Ndombolo group of “disrepute” by saying Jesus came into the world for sinners. So she was playing Jesus when she clapped at Olomide’s satanic dances.

We enjoyed it when she told the Standard in an interview that she was in a foul mood these days and in any case hates journalists from that paper. That is a helpful disclosure. Who would not want to know who their enemies are?
She also claimed her performance could have resulted in the conversion of one or two prostitutes in the audience. We hope she did.

The deserter from Mabvuku has no shame in opening up on her former boss in the Harare city council. This week she let it be known that dismissed former MDC executive mayor Elias Mudzuri was a big spender.

Sekesai Makwavarara said Mudzuri bought beer and whisky for councillors “which we would consume” at council meetings.

If this was abhorrent to her why did she join in the binge and never made any noise about it? At least we didn’t bother then so long as there was evidence of work being done. We wonder what Makwavarara and her imposed commission are doing now?

In the Herald article she complained that there was no water where she stays, that is in the mayor’s mansion in Gunhill. It looks like the spirit of grabbing lives on in the party.

Talking of political dishonesty, VP Joyce Mujuru had some revelations for Bulawayo voters last week. She said Bulawayo was lagging behind in development because the political leadership in the province did not claim the money allocated for projects. She said there was a lot of money allocated to the province which had not been claimed.

According to the Herald, Mujuru told her listeners in Bulawayo that they had voted for the wrong people in choosing the MDC.

“The people that you elected do not come to us to tell us your problems and sometimes we do not even know the problems that you face,” said Mujuru disarmingly.

“There was a lot of money that was given to this province that has gone unclaimed…”

This must come as a great relief to the people of Matabeleland who have been fighting to have water from the Zambezi River for nearly a century.

But telling them that the Zanu PF leadership sometimes doesn’t know their problems sounds like executive arrogance and we doubt if this claim will find many takers in the March 31 election.

Zanu PF has all but told white Zimbabweans to keep out of local politics. They were largely blamed for President Robert Mugabe’s humiliating defeat in the constitutional referendum of February 2000. What followed, as they say, is now history although most of them will lick their wounds for a long time to come.

We were therefore surprised to see a clever little advert in the Herald on Tuesday this week inserted by the party’s candidate for the Harare East constituency, one Dr Mukarati Muvengwa Madonza, inviting all and sundry to the Portuguese Association Club in Greendale for a meeting. Specifically, it promised “black and white Zimbabwean economic empowerment”. Tell that to Chinotimba and his ilk.

When did whites become of interest to Zanu PF when it uses them to blemish the MDC? For those who are able to read a little further, the Zanu PF anti-Blair advert on the facing page promises voters economic “empowerment through takeovers”. That started with the farms and they say once bitten twice shy — or once beaten twice shy as Zanu PF would say.

Zanu PF is adapting faster than a chameleon.

Muckraker was intrigued by President Thabo Mbeki’s claim in his recent Financial Times interview that he was “the only head of government that I know anywhere in the world who has actually gone to Zimbabwe and spoken publicly very critically of the things that they’re doing…”

Muckraker’s memory may be faulty here but it is difficult to recall which visit Mbeki is thinking of. We do remember him at one point in South Africa saying land reform needed to be carried out in a manner that did justice to all races, but nothing “very critical” at all about Zimbabwe’s policy of arbitrary seizures. And certainly nothing in the last year in which those seizures have persisted despite assurances to the contrary.

It is a pity the FT interviewer didn’t pin the South African leader down to just when he made his “very critical” remarks!

Zanu PF propagandist Caesar Zvayi this week took a swing at the Zimbabwe Independent and Standard claiming they were linked to George Soros. Presidential spokesman George Charamba has said much the same thing in the past so it is not difficult to conclude where Zvayi is getting his dubious information. Needless to say, Zvayi doesn’t provide a scrap of evidence to back his silly claim.

So here’s the challenge to all the state’s parrots: let’s have the evidence. Either put up or shut up!
As for Zvayi’s crass attempts to compare Wilf Mbanga’s paper to RadioTelevision Libre des Mille Collines that promoted genocide in Rwanda in the mid-1990s, who is it that has been promoting race hate in Zimbabwe?
Certainly not the independent press. And don’t we recall Zvayi threatening opposition voters in more than one of his columns last year?

Objecting to The Zimbabwean’s reprinting of the CCJP/LRF report on Fifth Brigade atrocities in Matabeleland in the 1980s, Zvayi asks, “as a reminder to what?”

The answer to that is simple: to a rogue state using the army and police to crush dissent and settle political scores in the process; to the abuse of power; to Zanu PF’s unrequited ambitions to impose its tyranny on the rest of us.
But we do appreciate Zvayi’s attention to detail. The Zimbabwean was as Zimbabwean as Chelsea, Tony Blair’s “only daughter”, he claimed recently.

Bill Clinton may be surprised to hear that.

Under the heading “State invests billions in new buildings”, the Herald last week carried a propaganda piece focusing on the new Makombe Complex which will house the Central Registry, Registrar-General’s office, and Passport and Citizenship offices. This was an excellent choice for the Herald’s Silver Jubilee puff pieces because the building is emblematic of cronyism in the award of the initial construction contracts, costly delays as a result of those contracts not meeting requirements, and chaotic scenes at the existing Citizenship and Passport offices as a result of the whole project being years behind schedule.

Once again, congratulations to the Herald for advertising the incompetence, waste and inconvenience to the public that are integral to Zanu PF rule.

In this context we were intrigued by Zanu PF’s claim that it will put an end to “racist factory closures”. Does this mean it will put an end to the party’s racism that together with toxic economic policies have led to factory closures?
Or can we expect more of the same: More unemployment and dishonest attempts to blame this on anybody but those responsible?

The author of this facile propaganda should ask the unemployed who they think is responsible for their fate. They will say Mugabe, not Blair! And have civic institutions drawn observers’ attention to the fact that a citizen in the back of a taxi exercising his right to freedom of expression by saying Mugabe was responsible for the mess the country finds itself in was subsequently charged and given a suspended sentence — ie warned against making such statements again. So much for democracy!

T hen we had Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri making the fatuous statement that Posa was similar to laws found in Britain and the United States. “The accusations that this piece of legislation was designed for one political party are false,” he said. “Are all political parties not holding rallies country-wide as we speak?”

Is he seriously suggesting the opposition has been free all this time to hold rallies wherever and whenever it wished? That Posa has not been used to prevent rallies or meetings?

Don’t we recall a Bulawayo MP being arrested for holding a meeting in her restaurant? As for Posa resembling similar legislation in the UK and US, Chihuri is free to advertise his ignorance but should not be surprised if people laugh. Does he really believe Zimbabweans don’t travel and experience the freedoms available in other countries?
This reminds us of the story — probably apocryphal — of the Zimbabwean diplomat in London who, when asked about freedom of expression in his country, said it was not true that it didn’t exist. People were completely free to denounce Tony Blair, he said.

Before we let the complacent police commissioner go, he should be set an accountability agenda for future press conferences: Why has Joseph Mwale not been brought to justice; why do the killers of David Stevens and Martin Olds and his mother continue to walk free; why have the terrorists who twice bombed the Daily News offices not been brought to justice; why have the abductors and torturers of Mark Chavunduka and Ray Choto not been identified despite a court order to the police to investigate?

Next time Chihuri talks about the need to carry out his “constitutional mandate without fear or favour” he should be asked why those criminals have been favoured by not being arrested.

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