Vee gives tourists enough game viewing

ARE things getting so desperate that the state media is now describing children as “buyers and exhibitors” at the just-ended Zimbabwe International Travel Expo?

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nt-page picture in Monday’s Herald purported to show “buyers and exhibitors winding up business” at the Travel Expo on Sunday. The “buyers and exhibitors” in this case appeared to be four children.

Couldn’t the photographer have found a few more people somewhere?

Still with tourism, we were fascinated to see a Herald report saying Zimbabwe was trying to “lure” a number of airlines into operating routes to Harare. Don’t we recall the paper’s cartoonist Innocent Mpofu celebrating British Airways’ departure because it left Air Zimbabwe as the sole operator on the Harare-London route?

Just a little too quick off the mark, it would seem.

Organisers of the Big Five concert on Saturday evening got their money’s worth by inviting Botswana pretender Vee to perform.

The tiny performer’s dancers lived up to the feral reputation of the big five by getting into “must” on stage. Muckraker is reliably informed that foreign buyers trooped out of the Conference Centre auditorium after the group’s antics. That was enough game viewing for one evening!

We see Herald columnist Reason Wafawarova is now pursuing his sponsored war against the MDC from a address. Does this mean he is no longer hiding in Australia?

Whatever the case, he has the cheek to call Morgan Tsvangirai a “semi-illiterate (sic) trade unionist-turned politician” and anyone who follows him “quiet (sic) naïve”.

Wherever in the comfortable West Wafawarova has decided to settle, it is obviously in a glass house from where he thinks he can safely throw stones. We just can’t understand how such a super-patriot would want to remain in self-imposed exile when there is a revolution to be fought back home!

It is interesting to see how the state has been taking advantage of the current inter-party talks to head off investigations into its human rights record, but uses its control of the public media to hammer the opposition with the help of people like Wafawarova who won’t live here.

Jabulani Sibanda has been conducting a series of demonstrations by war veterans in support of President Mugabe’s candidacy in next year’s presidential poll. This has raised the ire of the Zapu old guard in Bulawayo who see him as trespassing on their turf.

The last time they looked he was no longer a member of the party having got into a spot of bother in 2004 and now suddenly he is holding aloft a banner, blessed we are told by the president himself, proclaiming the need for a revolutionary spirit. All very curious.

But Muckraker’s interest is more to do with policy than turf wars. What exactly is it that Sibanda thinks Mugabe has to offer the nation with another term? What will he achieve that he has not been able to achieve to date?

Will he stabilise prices; will he improve productivity on the land; will he secure foreign investment and enhance GDP; will he create jobs; will he win back donor support; will he run a successful economy?

If Mugabe hasn’t been able to do any of these things since he was last “elected”, why does Sibanda think he will do them now?

All those war veterans who are running around waving their fists in support of Mugabe should explain why they want to make this country poorer than it already is.

Why don’t they want us to have bread and milk and jobs and schools? Why do they want to condemn us to a life of poverty and shortages?

Perhaps Sibanda could explain.

And still on the subject of war vets, has Joseph Chinotimba ever explained how he became so rich so quickly in the employment of the City of Harare? Would it be possible for us to access council files under Aippa?

Come to think of it, has anybody ever accessed anything under Aippa? What public good does this dubious legislation serve? All it does is empower the state to close newspapers! And isn’t it unbelievable that in the 28th year of Independence Zimbabwe still only has one TV channel — and a very inadequate one at that.

A few weeks ago Newshour reported on the forthcoming EU/AU meeting in Lisbon as a meeting between the EU and the ACP (African, Caribbean and Pacific) countries. This distortion continued throughout the bulletin with no apology or correction the next day.

In the same bulletin they attempted to wheel in Godwills Masimirembwa for an expert view. Sadly the sound chose that moment to play truant so all we saw was Godwills silently mouthing at the camera. Perhaps he was providing a definition of “struck off”.

We shall never know.

Muckraker was interested to read the lead story in The Voice this week which was headed “Congress agenda set”. It was all about Didymus Mutasa sending out invitations.

The report told us the extraordinary congress was due to take place “in the first week of December”. Muckraker’s information is that the congress will take place from December 12 to December 14. The important part, when resolutions are adopted, will take place towards the end.

This is known to senior Zanu PF luminaries. The Zimbabwe Independent gave the dates in its front-page stories last week. Yet nobody told the editor of The Voice who is obliged to refer to “the first week of December”.

What is the use of a party newspaper if it can’t convey news to its members?

Somebody should ask Tafataona Mahoso about such emasculated journalism. He has been raving against Gordon Brown and the Commonwealth in his column in The Voice.

“For Mr Brown and his government President Robert Mugabe and his ministers shall never be allowed to visit any white country because they dared to reclaim land for the African majority of Zimbabwe which British settlers here had stolen,” Mahoso fatuously asserts.

He refers to Britain’s “dwindling economic fortunes” even though it has one of the fastest growing economies in the G8. And he says there is much to learn from Zimbabwe’s “well-timed withdrawal” from the Commonwealth in 2003 which became “a Commonwealth of shame”.

“It is the common shame of having been colonised and brutalised by racist Britain which qualified and selected the majority of nations to become members of the Commonwealth.”

He seems unaware that all the members had a choice at independence whether to join or not. Some such as Burma decided not to. Others such as South Africa in 1961 were booted out.

But Mahoso’s version of events, including Zimbabwe’s withdrawal, have been distorted to suit the current theology. Let’s bear in mind that Zimbabwe’s membership was suspended following political violence and electoral manipulation in 2002.

The Commonwealth observer mission made up of many different nations and headed by former Nigerian head of state Abdulsalam Abubakar found that the exercise fell well short of democratic standards.

The regime’s spokesmen then tried to pretend that the report was not really Abubakar’s work but emanated from Commonwealth secretary-general Don McKinnon. This forced Abubakar to issue a statement pointing out that he stood fully behind the report. But this didn’t stop Zimbabwean government spokesmen from continuing to lie about it.

As for Mahoso’s claim of a “well-timed withdrawal” from the organisation in 2003, this, as official spokesmen say, should be “treated with the contempt it deserves”.

President Mugabe made every effort to secure attendance at the Abuja summit and his ministers and diplomats lobbied hard for Zimbabwe’s suspension to be lifted. They desperately wanted to remain a member. But the other nations present from the Caribbean, South-East Asia and the Pacific agreed with Australian Prime Minister John Howard that in the absence of any change of attitude in Harare it would be difficult to justify Zimbabwe’s readmission.

What seems to have incensed Mahoso is that many African states joined the rest of the “club” in arguing against the lifting of Zimbabwe’s suspension. It was indeed a moment of shame — for Zimbabwe, not the Commonwealth.

Mahoso did provide some useful commentary in his usually turgid Voice column.

The following elements were evident in the war in Iraq, he suggests. “Racist brutality and bigotry…the cultivation of open public hatred against a whole people, theft and pillage for self-enrichment …all justified through lies upon lies which are daily broadcast to the whole world.”

But couldn’t we say the same thing about Zanu PF rule which Mahoso seeks to justify? Are those not precisely the elements that have led to the sanctions his regime so bitterly resents? Yet they go on churning out a diet of “open public hatred” while seeking to justify “theft and pillage for self-enrichment”, all “justified through lies upon lies”.

We thank the media professor for bringing that little anomaly to our attention. And we look forward to having the above confirmed at Congress, on whatever date they decide to disclose to their captive media.

We were pleased to see the MDC has finally found its voice. The party issued a statement this week pointing out that the regime had intensified its violent crackdown against MDC activists and other pro-democracy groups despite the current inter-party talks. It cited the arrest of Woza women who had been conducting a peaceful protest.

It also reported that police had summoned MDC Harare provincial organising secretary Paul Madzore in an apparent attempt to prevent the party holding rallies.

“Senior police and intelligence officers summoned Hon Madzore to Harare Central Police Station,” the MDC said this week, “alleging that speakers at an MDC rally in Glen Norah on Sunday had preached hate and insulted police officers. The police also said they took exception to calls by the speakers at the rally for the people to note down the names of police officers who are involved in human rights abuses.”

So the public are not allowed to record the names of officers who assault them? There are a number of cases currently being brought before the courts by MDC officials who were severely assaulted at police stations in March. Are they now required to abandon those cases?

“The MDC is dismayed by Zanu PF’s disdain of the Sadc-initiated talks that are aimed at finding common ground between the regime and the opposition,” the MDC statement says. “While the MDC and Zanu PF are engaged in dialogue in Pretoria, the regime has continued to hound our supporters, brutally assaulting and attacking them against the spirit of the dialogue process. We continue to receive disturbing reports from across the country of violence against our supporters as well as Zanu PF’s continued abuse of food as a political weapon.”

Since the dialogue process started, the MDC says, police have turned down 103 opposition rallies while Zanu PF’s “solidarity marches” continue to take place throughout the country without any police interference.

“The people of Zimbabwe are resilient against a regime that continues to harass and assault them when it has a constitutional mandate to protect them,” the MDC said.

What is becoming clear is that Zanu PF wants the respectability offered by an agreement between the main parties but at the same time wants to continue assaulting and intimidating its opponents so it can “win” an election. It is unable to see that having it both ways is unacceptable.

Let’s hope this point is firmly made when it is time for the negotiators to discuss the political climate. Currently the climate remains hot and cloudy!

TA CEO Karikoga Kaseke continues to use the language of Zanu PF but then can’t understand why tourists are reluctant to come here.

“Because of the barbaric onslaught on Zimbabwe in the past six weeks by some countries in the West led by the United Kingdom, a good number of our buyers from those markets have withdrawn their participation at this year’s Travel Expo,” he was quoted as saying recently.

“We don’t care, it’s their own funeral, they are drinking poison,” he added, in a distinctly unwelcoming tone.

Kaseke must make up his mind. Is he to provide a professional service to the tourism sector or is he just a government apparatchik mouthing its foolish mantras? Let’s spell it out for him in a way that he understands: There will be no tourism inflows so long as Zanu PF pursues a racist agenda on the land, attacks opposition supporters and adopts policies that will damage the economy. That is the unpalatable fact he needs to get a handle on.

Can you imagine a government planning to lure soccer supporters by building hotels and other facilities ahead of 2010 when it can’t even provide a minimal supply of water and electricity to towns.