Others are already walking, join them

IS there a secret place in Zimbabwe where ministers hide from the real world?

Energy minister Mike Nyambuya thinks that given the unprecedented

fuel shortage over which he presides, we should all walk to work!

He evidently hasn’t notice that most people are already walking to work. And the obvious question: does he walk to work?

You can bet your bottom dollar that is an unlikely prospect.

“The country is facing critical fuel shortages,” Nyambuya recently observed, “and as government we encourage all Zimbabweans to reduce the number of cars on the country’s roads and walk to save the scarce fuel we have.”

Is this an appeal he has made to the president, we wonder?

What it does reveal is that cabinet ministers at last understand the depth of the crisis. Up until now they have been pretending that fuel shortages are a temporary phenomenon that imminent deals with Equatorial Guinea or somewhere similar will avert.

Now they understand that there will be no respite from the crisis.

So we must all foot it!

“In most developed countries company executives wearing expensive suits use public transport or walk to work. But here in Zimbabwe one person wants to have 10 cars on the road each day,” the minister claimed.

Many of those belong to cabinet ministers, it is safe to say. And has anybody ever seen Nyambuya or his colleagues stuffed into the back of a taxi?

Which brings us to that secret planet where ministers spend much of the week cocooned from reality. Why should Zimbabweans walk to work when Zanu PF pursues damaging policies that wreck the economy and make fuel imports prohibitive?

We used to export tobacco and other crops which paid for the imports that the country needed. Now commercial agriculture lies in ruins and we can’t afford fuel imports because vital forex is going to food imports.

Nyambuya omitted to explain any of this. And next year gullible peasant voters will be told that sovereignty means not having a car.

We were surprised to see that Zimbabwe’s cricket team is on the side of the chefs’ children who were deported from Australia. At least that is the view of Herald cartoonist Innocent Mpofu and his handlers at Munhumutapa Building who think their victory over Australia in Cape Town represents a victory over John Howard.

Our cricketers should beware of this sort of patronage. Many in this country and abroad who are sympathetic to our cricket team may be a little less enthusiastic after learning that they have been recruited into the ruling party’s increasingly desperate propaganda offensive.

We can be sure the cricketers themselves were never asked if they wanted to be the subject of a childish cartoon in the Herald or grist to some bitter mill on the editorial pages.

And in the event of their being asked we can be equally sure they would not want to be associated with a campaign of invective directed at the Australian government over the fate of children of Zimbabwe’s brutal ruling class. Why doesn’t somebody try asking them!

Muckraker was reading this week in the Guardian of how successful Howard’s economic management has been. Australia has since 2000 had the highest growth of any of the Anglo-Saxon tigers (the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand). And there perhaps lies the problem.

President Mugabe’s government loathes and distrusts any country that manages its economy well. While Zimbabwe’s leaders can see the benefit of having their children educated in these successful societies, they understand perfectly the need at home to toe their leader’s catastrophic line on economic policy, thereby sealing their own society’s fate. They can’t have it both ways.

So long as Mugabe rules the roost in Zanu PF there can be no hope of recovery let alone growth. And fists will be waved at those countries that perform well economically. They are the very opposite of the impoverished run-down country Zanu PF wants Zimbabwe to become.

And we were interested to note that reports in the official press of an A$18 million donation to the MDC were pure fiction. Yet everybody in the state propaganda chain repeated it without challenge!

We have been following Zanu PF’s sudden embrace of ICT. Having regarded the Internet as part of a conspiracy against Zimbabwe, Zanu PF now wants to make use of it in its defence of dictatorship.

Sadly, they have no idea how it works. Mugabe for instance at the launch of the ICT policy framework complained that if his ministers were involved in a scandal the story would quickly be all over the international news networks yet the same networks would completely ignore a similar story if it involved an archbishop.

Evidently he didn’t watch his DStv news stations that morning or any other morning. Archbishop Pius has been a running story on all the networks and on South African radio stations since its first release. Nobody has ignored it or tried to sweep it under the carpet. Where has he been?

We understand that Zimbabwean state media may be a tad disappointed that the political consequences of their frame-up failed to yield the political dividends hoped for, but that is inevitable given the public loathing towards Zanu PF in Bulawayo.

This is the same president who said there would be no going back on the Zinwa takeover of water supplies in Bulawayo, yet he cannot understand why he is not particularly popular in the nation’s second city and why the Pius story was met with sadness rather than rage. Nothing can work up the Bulawayo public against the opposition, it would seem.

Meanwhile, Zanu PF will reap no benefits from ICT because firstly they are incompetent when it comes to applying technology to political purposes (check out their websites), and secondly the whole point about the Internet is that it empowers people in their relations with the state.

Nobody is going to use it to reaffirm the stale shibboleths of the ruling party about sovereignty and countering Western imperialist interests. Try using the Internet for that project and see how far you get!

Have you noticed that since the Herald ran a front-page story announcing that HCB of Mozambique had boosted power supplies to Zimbabwe by 100% there has been an increase in power cuts, many in areas hitherto unaffected?

Message to the Herald: please, no more good news.

And we were interested to note that at one supermarket in the avenues about 80% of the merchandise is South African. Zambia is also well represented on the shelves. But Zimbabwean manufacturers are invisible.

So much for sovereignty and independence! When this chapter of our history comes to be written Obert Mpofu and his ministerial taskforce should get the credit they deserve for destroying the country’s manufacturing base and enriching South African companies. Who are the real saboteurs!

Morgan Tsvangirai is no threat to the ruling party, its propagandists tell us. So why then do they heap vitriol on him every day on their editorial pages?

They can’t leave him alone. Every edition of their newspapers brings a new onslaught. Clearly, whatever their claims, they think he is a danger to them.

On Friday we had Peter Mavunga comparing Tsvangirai to Bishop Abel Muzorewa. Yet Mavunga still hasn’t told us why he prefers Britain to Zimbabwe; why he won’t share the paradise President Mugabe has spawned with the rest of us!

Then we had Godwills Masimirembwa naïvely singing the praises of the electoral commission and electoral laws. He didn’t mention the role of the military in running elections once, or the Joint Operations Command.

And Godwills never tells us why he is unable to practise law. Why is he so shy about this rather important detail?

And Reason Wafawarova prefers to attack George Bush, Tony Blair and Tsvangirai from the comfort and safety of Australia!

On Tuesday Mabasa Sasa, who has contributed to the government’s public relations supplements in New African magazine, was hired to say that nothing new is likely to come out of the MDC’s election manifesto.

He may be right. We have seen nothing very persuasive yet.

But it wouldn’t be too difficult to state the obvious: if you want more inflation, vote Zanu PF; if you want higher unemployment, vote Zanu PF; if you want more poverty, vote Zanu PF; if you want to hear empty slogans about sovereignty and independence, vote Zanu PF; if you want empty supermarket shelves, vote Zanu PF; if you want persistent fuel shortages, vote Zanu PF.

If you want urban dereliction, vote Zanu PF; if you want total economic collapse, vote Zanu PF; if you want international isolation (except perhaps Zambia, Tanzania and Equatorial Guinea), vote Zanu PF; if you admire political thugs, vote Zanu PF; if you admire political fools, vote Zanu PF; if you want to be deprived of your right to vote, vote Zanu PF; if you want freedom, recovery, prosperity and jobs, vote for another party!

It is so obvious nobody has thought of it. Or why not just publish a list of the president’s most devoted admirers: Chinotimba, Chiwenga, Chombo, Mahoso, Mahofa and Mutasa. That should do the trick!

We enjoyed Munyaradzi Huni’s interview with war veterans leader Jabulani Sibanda in the Sunday Mail this week.

Told that some of his colleagues “rushed to claim farms which they were now failing to utilise”, Sibanda retorted: “The people making those claims are not mentioning names and they are not looking at the reality on the ground and so I will not waste my time responding to their allegations.”

Further on, Huni asked whether Sibanda felt enough was being done to reverse the country’s economic decline. Sibanda said there were two major problems why things were so bad: sanctions and indiscipline in the party and government.

But he quickly corrected himself on the sanctions issue, noting that Cuba “has been under an embargo that is more severe than what we are facing, but its revolution has refused to die”. That left him with indiscipline, which he said had led to widespread corruption in the country.

“As war veterans we have decided to put a stop to corruption, be it in government or in the party, and we are going to mount fierce demonstrations against such people until they are removed from government or the party,” warned Sibanda.

We must thank Sibanda for his candour in admitting that the sanctions claim is being blown out of proportion to divert public attention from government’s own administrative and policy failures.

Secondly, after “looking at the reality on the ground” we found that there was no maize, no flour, no sugar, less tobacco and cotton but still a lot of war veterans on the farms cutting trees for sale as firewood.

We also felt shortchanged by his failure to name and shame the corrupt people in the government and the party against whom they plan to “mount fierce demonstrations”. Let him mention names to be believed.

Earlier on in the interview Sibanda denied that there was factionalism in Zanu PF, saying instead: “We have got two or three individuals who are power hungry . . .”

Name them Cde Sibanda. Walk the talk!

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