Same old dull Zanu PF tricks

HAS it occurred to Zanu PF that every time they pull one of their election stunts the public become increasingly indifferent?

Warning was given that a stunt would be forthcoming by Webster Shamu in the Sunday M

ail. The MDC had been training Zimbabweans living in South Africa to “unleash violence” in order to discredit the election, he claimed.

“The alleged hooligans and thugs have been given instructions on how to perpetrate violence,” he said.

Then predictably, the next day the Herald carried a headline announcing the arrest of five MDC youths who were accused of being a “terror group” trained in South Africa to “unleash a reign of terror” in Zimbabwe.

How many people believe this rubbish any more? Don’t we recall almost identical stories ahead of the 2000 and 2002 elections?

What happened to those “plots”? The evidence evaporated once the election was over just as it did in the Tsvangirai treason case!

The MDC replied to the Herald’s silly story saying they had seen it all before.

“For instance, on the eve of the March 2002 presidential poll, 17 army ‘deserters’ were paraded on ZBC. The Mugabe regime claimed that the 17 ‘deserters’ had been arrested for plotting to cause disruption ahead of the poll. No evidence was ever produced to support this claim. After the election the issue of the ‘17 deserters’ and their alleged crimes was never mentioned again by the regime.

“In November 2001, five MDC activists were arrested for the murder of war veteran Cain Nkala. At the time Mugabe claimed that their arrest proved that the MDC was a party bent on using violent means to achieve its political objectives. After being held in prison for over two years, and subjected to torture, all five were acquitted last year.”
As for the MDC training Zimbabweans to “unleash violence”, which party is it that has a record of unleashing violence against its opponents? Which party has been using youth militias to impose its will on voters?

The police helpfully claimed that according to their investigations “the MDC wanted to commit acts of violence so that Zanu PF and the government of Zimbabwe would be viewed as perpetrators of violence”.

Who was responsible for the murder of Talent Mabika and Tichaona Chiminya? What has happened to their killers?

Who tortured Gabriel Shumba and what has happened to those responsible for the torture and subsequent death of Tonderayi Machiridza?

Who were the very real perpetrators of state violence in those cases and why have they not been brought to justice?

Please, no more “impish” stunts just because an election is pending. It all looks like smoke-and-mirrors to even the most gullible readers.

Still on torturers, the Sunday Mirror this week thought it had an exposé on the United States’ poor human rights record with a front page article titled “CIA in torture scandal”. The article contained a revealing comment from Information permanent secretary George Charamba who cheerfully said: “The US has historically been a net exporter of torture.”

So that’s where Zimbabwe has been importing all its torture skills from used by our law enforcers? Muckraker feels Zimbabwe can now qualify to be a net exporter of torture considering the country’s well-documented exploits in the run-up to the 2000 and 2002 elections.

If anybody doubted the “independence” of the Electoral Supervisory Commission they should read the remarks by ESC spokesman Tarisai Manzonzo. He told the Sunday News that the British and US governments were “begging Zimbabwe” to accredit their officials as election observers.

We should not be surprised by this. The last such spokesman was a former Herald deputy editor! But Manzonzo should be told his attempts to be helpful to the state media and its partisan cause by depicting British and US embassy officials as “begging” for accreditation when they were simply applying for it in the normal way does nothing for the reputation of the ESC.

The same goes for ZEC spokesman Utloile Silaigwana’s naive remarks about how “happy” the ZEC was that President Mugabe was “encouraging tolerance among political parties” and how this had “immensely contributed to the prevailing peace”.

Does that include Mugabe’s remarks last week about Roy Bennett?

What we have here is a body appointed by Mugabe and accountable to him supervising what is supposed to be an independent electoral commission.

We note Justice Chiweshe’s statement that the ZEC had begun dispatching application forms for postal votes to the ZRP, Defence forces and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as some of them would be working outside the country.

So why only government personnel working outside the country? What about those who, whatever the opinion of the Supreme Court, are equally entitled to vote as Zimbabweans working outside the country?

It is significant that in this case and the Aippa case the government and Zanu PF celebrate every time the rights of Zimbabweans are abridged. And they think nobody outside the country notices!

As one government columnist said last week, the MDC is not benefiting from this “rule-of-law nonsense”.

“Well done the Chief Justice,” he added, suggesting a rather unhealthy measure of patronage!

Tafataona Mahoso continues to invite ridicule in his weekly frothing. Because Morgan Tsvangirai invited President Mbeki to come to Zimbabwe to assess compliance with the Sadc protocols in the run-up to elections, this means, Mahoso claimed, he has issued a “blank invitation by an opposition party to the president of another power to come and literally take over the functions of those constitutional authorities in Zimbabwe who should be responsible for elections”.

Mahoso called this “treasonous and unconstitutional”.

Does Mahoso want to be taken seriously or not? If he does, he needs to avoid these sort of fatuous claims that are just downright daft.

Sadc leaders have as their mandate the need to check compliance with their own protocols. The whole point about Zimbabwe is that, despite its claims, it is not complying with the Mauritius terms.

Mahoso does not help his case by citing the South African Human Rights Commission’s findings on its investigation of the media several years ago. There can’t be a single person, apart from Mahoso, who takes that profoundly flawed report seriously.

But we liked the picture of Durban in 1976. At least Mahoso’s tortuous prose enables the Sunday Mail to dig into its 1970s photo collection!

We also liked the following comments carried in the Herald’s report on the Supreme Court ruling in the Daily News case last week.

“…The court criticised MIC chairman Dr Tafataona Mahoso for creating misgivings and causing mistrust in him by the ANZ through making comments in articles he wrote in newspapers that were likely to make the applicant feel it would not get a fair hearing from the commission he chaired.

“The judge was referring to numerous articles authored by Dr Mahoso which were placed before the administrative court by the ANZ lawyer seeking to prove that he was biased against his client. In one of the articles Dr Mahoso had referred to ANZ as an ‘outlaw’ and indicated that its application would not be considered.
“He also remarked that the MIC was conducting itself in an inappropriate manner. Dr Mahoso, he said, should have appreciated he would chair the commission dealing with the ANZ’s application for registration and, hence, should have stopped making such statements of personal belief and opinion. Accordingly, he should have refrained from making comments that were likely to make (the) applicant apprehensive of not getting a fair hearing from the commission chaired by him.”

Despite all this, the Supreme Court noted that the evidence submitted to the Administrative Court failed to prove actual bias on the part of Dr Mahoso.

It needs to be asked what he actually has to do or say to convince their lordships of bias if not what they cited above!

There is also the case of Chengetai Zvauya who was refused accreditation by Mahoso on the grounds that he had been found guilty of an offence by a court.

This related to a report in the Standard which claimed the Constitutional Commission had reached its conclusions before its investigations were complete. Zvauya was acquitted on appeal, a case Mahoso appeared not to be following despite the MIC being a quasi-judicial body!

Will we see an improvement in his behaviour following the Supreme Court’s admonishment? Don’t hold your breath!

Meanwhile, we noted the Supreme Court’s ruling that once the ANZ complied with the law “this court will accord it the same protection it accords all citizens who are law-abiding”.

Not much comfort there then!

Muckraker was intrigued by a story in the Sunday Mail’s Metro supplement this week. Written by Gilbert Munetsi, it said: “For a whole weekend I was inside the walls of Harare Central, though by design. My mission was to track down a former celebrated Commonwealth boxing champion, then incarcerated, to find out if he really had converted to Christianity as alleged in press reports.

“This for me meant dressing in prison garb and swapping my name for a number after which I hoped to stalk my prey for perhaps a whole day before spelling out the purpose of my visit to him and convincing him to grant me an exclusive interview. In journalism that is called pulling a stunt.”

No it’s not. It’s called unprofessional conduct. As a journalist, Gilbert, you are supposed to disclose your presence and your identity, not “stalk” your “prey” in a situation where he could hardly say no to your “design”.

And what was the Prison Service doing allowing you to pose as a prisoner in order to stalk another prisoner — boxer Arifonso Zvenyika serving an 18-month sentence for theft.

The interview took place a year ago, we are told, so it is difficult to understand why it is only appearing now.
We would welcome a statement from the Director of the Prison Service on this. We note that state journalists have the privilege, when they go in, of deciding when to come out!

So Zimbabwe is President Mugabe’s wife? He is angry with British Prime Minister Tony Blair because he believes he is a wife-stealer.

At a rally at Mataga Growth Point in the Midlands last Saturday Mugabe said he would fight tooth and nail if Blair tried to steal his wife. “Kana iye Blair akada kutora mukadzi wangu tinonetsana,” the Herald reported him as saying.

No society should tolerate men who go about stealing other people’s wives. Do you recall the story of a man who stole a secretary in his office who incredibly turned out to be someone else’s wife? Unfortunately the husband did not fight tooth and nail against the wife-stealer. He was simply exported on a slow boat to China!

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