‘Sellouts’ are those you defend, Mahoso

WE were shocked by the arrest of Morgan Tsvangirai last week. His offence? Touring a wholesale store. He was charged with “disorderly conduct” under the Criminal Law (Codification

and Reform) Act.

And what did this “disorderly conduct” involve? Touring shops to assess the impact of a government directive to manufacturers and retailers to slash the prices of goods by 50%.

This reminds us of the days when Communist regimes used to describe their opponents as “hooligans”.

The MDC put out one of its long, wordy statements. But the salient point was this: “The primary concern of any caring government lies in improving the lives of its citizens and not arresting innocent people simply because they decided to assess the magnitude of the national crisis.”

Indeed, isn’t it the function of the leader of the opposition to draw attention to the failure of government policies?

And doesn’t Tsvangirai have a constitutional right to tour shops if he should want to do so?

It would be interesting to know who ordered his arrest. This was a political move by any definition. Government spokesmen should not be surprised when Zimbabwe is branded a rogue state when the leader of the opposition is arrested for doing his job!

And why was the harridan who accosted and abused him and then set upon a photographer not charged with disorderly conduct? What sort of double standard is this?

Another illustration of the country’s descent into lawlessness could be found in a newspaper report last weekend regarding the case of Margaret Joubert who was forced to flee to South Africa because of threats to her life.

She was recently granted a High Court order to return to her farm in Matabeleland North that was occupied by police officers. The police defied two High Court orders to vacate Portwe Estates in Bubi district which they occupied earlier this year, the Standard reported.

In the latest case Justice Nicholas Ndou on August 16 ordered the police to vacate the farm and return the property, including two vehicles and a computer they seized from Joubert when they forced her off the farm at gunpoint in July.

She went to stay with relatives but, the relatives say, was forced to flee after further threats.

“She left a fortnight ago since she had nowhere to stay after all that she had worked for was forcibly taken by the police,” a relative told the Standard. “They continued to threaten her with arrest.”

Home Affairs minister Kembo Mohadi said he was too busy to comment.

So a law-abiding citizen seeks the protection of the courts, which is granted, but continues, her relatives say, to be harassed by police officers occupying her farm and is in the end forced to seek refuge in South Africa.

Isn’t this an emblematic case? Newspapers should every week ask Wayne Bvudzijena why the police are not complying with the court orders.

It would demonstrate to the world that Zimbabwe is a lawless state where innocent citizens are harassed and the courts are rendered impotent. Worse still, the minister has lost his tongue and is unable or unwilling to justify this egregious abuse of power taking place under his nose.

Meanwhile, the talks between Zanu PF and the MDC are making progress, we are told. But will any of the electoral reforms they have agreed carry any meaning if law-enforcement remains politicised?

Have you noticed, by the way, that any criticism of the regime is now described as “anti-Zimbabwe”? So we see individuals and organisations classified as “anti-Zimbabwe” when of course they are merely critical of Zanu PF. The same goes for regime change.

This label is tagged on to anybody favouring change. As most of the country is crying out for change we can expect to see more and more of this one littering the pages of the Herald.

Muckraker has a few questions about various projects around the capital. Who benefits from the systematic chopping down of conifers along Steppes Rd? Is this a council project? Who is building the Newlands bypass and at what cost? The council surely can’t afford it.

Can we have some transparency here please.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs used to charge $5 000 to authenticate documents such as police clearance for a student visa. Since July 1 they have been charging $500 000.

What other examples are there of the state not obeying its own edicts?

Eric Bloch thinks it is “grossly improper” for anyone, including Tsvangirai, to “fight fathers through their children”. This follows the deportation from Australia of a gaggle of chefly progeny.

“Education is a right that children deserve to be accorded anywhere in the world despite which political party their parents belong to . . .”

We think it is “grossly improper” for Bloch to lend himself to state propaganda in this way. Education should indeed be a right afforded to all. But that is to miss the point.

What we have here is a post-liberation aristocracy waging a war of invective against the UK, US and Australia but preferring to educate their children in those countries because a good education can no longer be obtained at home.

Why is Tsvangirai wrong to ask chefs to have their children share the experience of their compatriots back home and put up with the conditions spawned by their delinquent parents?

Why is it Zimbabwe’s politically privileged have no wish to put their kids through the country’s educational system?

And why do they persist in attacking the very countries where they send their children to benefit?

Bloch is mistaken. Education may be a right. But Zimbabwean children have a right to a good education here.

They have no right to an education elsewhere simply because their parents have grown rich on the proceeds of power and, having condemned the youth of this country to a life of poverty and ignorance, want to help their kids escape from the consequences of their misrule.

So, now all is clear. Muckraker had been wondering why the regime’s spokesmen were frothing at the mouth last week over Gordon Brown getting pally with Nelson Mandela.

Up until then they had been keeping studiously quiet over the new incumbent at No 10, in the hope no doubt that London may decide to “build bridges” with Harare and ignore the human rights abuses and lawlessness taking place across the country.

As we anticipated, that has proved a forlorn hope. Foreign Secretary David Miliband told EU colleagues last weekend that Brown would boycott the forthcoming Africa/EU summit in Lisbon in the event of Mugabe’s attendance.

“I don’t think anyone wants to be part of a media circus,” Miliband was quoted as saying. “We are all very, very concerned about the situation in Zimbabwe.”

That has dashed the hopes of the myopic bridge-builders and explains the sudden venting of spleen towards Brown that readers of the state media were recently forced to witness.

After all, it is something of an irony that the much-hated Blair had said he would not object to Mugabe’s attendance in Lisbon while his successor, from whom much was expected, is trying to block it.

But Miliband has a point. If Mugabe attends the summit he will be the object of frenzied media attention while Africa’s problems are sidelined.

It will be a train smash for the Portuguese who want to redeem something from the 2003 debacle when they had to cancel a similar summit.

Reports that a Zimbabwean vice-president or minister would be welcome at Lisbon have not been confirmed. But that’s clearly the face-saver the Portuguese are seeking.

Tafataona Mahoso, who we are told is a social commentator, is in witch-hunting mode.

“There is a need for all patriots and their liberation movement in government,” he writes in his long-winded Sunday Mail column, “to carry out a who-is-who exercise. Who is standing with Sadc and the patriotic majority against the illegal economic war being waged upon us?”

In particular, he is bitter about the “foreign regime change lobby and its internal collaborators who have now shown their hand which is anchored in the yet unliberated manufacturing and retail sectors of our economy”.

What we do know is that the “dollarised African elite” Mahoso refers to are the same people who have benefited from land seizures, made even more money from fuel distribution and now have their eyes firmly set upon the companies and banks that have survived the state-sponsored crisis the country is going through.

They are the same people that have run down parastatals such as Air Zimbabwe and Zupco yet ride around in 4x4s.

We don’t need a Mahoso-sponsored investigation to find out who they are. They are the same people whining about the unfairness of having their children expelled from Australia when they have wrecked the educational sector here.

This is the “patriotic majority” Mahoso claims to speak for. Included in this self-serving definition are the deceitful newspapers which lie to the Zimbabwean public, suggesting that our problems are the product of sanctions and not the damaging policies enacted by an incompetent and brutal regime.

Worst of all are the apologists for this regime, those who are paid to pretend that were it not for the UK/US machinations Zimbabwe would be a prosperous and stable state.

To believe that you must either be on a generous state handout or very stupid indeed.

Finally, a salute to Pius Ncube who had the courage to do the right thing and step down. What a contrast with those who orchestrated his fall and will hang on to power no matter what abuse they commit.

They must be feeling pleased with themselves this week.

But will the Bulawayo public be saying: “What a brilliant manoeuvre by Zanu PF! What a great party they are!

“We must all rush and vote for them in March?”

Somehow we don’t think so.

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