Orange Revolution: CIO’s pure fiction

STATEMENTS in the official press last week provided an interesting view of the Byzantine manoeuvres surrounding official policy-making at Munhumutapa Building.

It has long been known that Operation Murambats

vina was the product of a small cabal that included intelligence and police officers. Anna Tibaijuka referred to the absence of broad consultations when she submitted her report.

So it was useful to have Baffour Ankomah’s confirmation of this in his New African article subsequently carried in the Herald . George Charamba’s disingenuous rebuttal last Saturday has simply alerted us to the regime’s sensitivity on the issue.

New African can now reveal that the operation was the brainchild of Zimbabwe’s intelligence community which felt it had to move quickly to nip in the bud a Ukrainian-style revolution (or street protests) then being planned in Zimbabwe and funded by the same Western countries who paid for Ukraine’s so-called Orange Revolution earlier this year,” Ankomah wrote.

“Vulnerable slum dwellers” were to be the cannon fodder of this revolution, he tells us, hence the authorities’ sense of urgency in dealing with them.

Ankomah has declined to respond to an invitation from Muckraker to reveal who sponsored his visit to Zimbabwe where this implausible story was fed to him. The one thing everybody understands perfectly well is that no street protests or indeed any other protests could be expected from the supine MDC despite evidence of yet another stolen election. The mood was sullen but not insurrectionary.

The CIO — one of the best intelligence services in the world, Ankomah believes — panicked and nipped the pending street protests in the bud by demolishing the habitats of the slum-dwellers. Because of the speed at which the operation moved, many cabinet ministers and senior officials who would normally know about such an operation were kept in the dark, he claims. The security services “drove the process” and laid-down procedures were “short-circuited”.

You have to be very gullible indeed to swallow all of this. Yes, a small cabal of securocrats may have been driving the crackdown. But the threat of an Orange Revolution was pure fiction fed to Ankomah by the same people who paid for his visit.

Then we had Charamba blaming the independent press for picking up on the story. Murambatsvina, he claimed, was a “collective programme premised on the twin goals of dealing with lawlessness and providing decent accommodation”.

Nothing of course could be further from the truth. If there was any lawlessness it stemmed from Murambatsvina, as has been widely documented. That is why Tibaijuka suggested there might be grounds for prosecution of those responsible.

If it was a “collective programme”, why was it not discussed at the cabinet meeting in the week that it was launched? And the “decent accommodation” has been slow to materialise. Why wasn’t it provided in the first place?

It is difficult to work out whether Charamba’s statement on Saturday was designed to castigate the Herald’s editor for carrying Ankomah’s very revealing remarks or provide a pretext for attacking independent media editors.

And who is the “fringe politician” who gets dragged into Charamba’s tirade? Perhaps the one who is subject to further abuse by Nathaniel Manheru in the same edition? The one Manheru was cheering on after his attacks on journalists only a year ago!

And how interesting to see that the deputy minister’s lie about Morgan Tsvangirai hopping aboard his 4×4 during his first walk into town is repeated by Manheru whose office will have been provided with material evidence that the vehicle was nowhere in sight on the day in question, largely because it was locked in Tsvangirai’s garage. The world’s best intelligence service cannot have been that blind behind those dark glasses!

And then we are lectured by Charamba about the “abuse of journalism”. Purleez!

Muckraker is confused about Zimra’s foreign exchange rates provided to the Herald every week to assess the value of imported goods. They provide rates for the Austrian schilling, the Belgian franc, the French franc, the German mark, the Irish punt, the Netherlands guilder and the Spanish peseta, among others.

What is puzzling about all these currencies is that they were abolished four years ago with the introduction of the euro. So where Zimra gets its rates from is anybody’s guess!

Why does Zanu PF get away with holding voters in contempt by promoting electoral failures to high office?

We have before us the example of William Nhara who failed to get elected to parliament in Harare and is now principal director in the Interactive Affairs ministry. Then we witnessed a number of parastatals with shocking records of mismanagement rushing to congratulate Engineer George Mlilo on his appointment as permanent secretary in the Ministry of Transport and Communications. This follows his failure to secure the Bulawayo mayorship.

Does anybody still remember Mlilo’s record at Bulawayo City Council. As chief engineer he
almost went to jail for ill-treating pigs!

It will be interesting to see who the president appoints to the senate after his assurance that there would be no more rejected candidates as ministers.

We were intrigued to note Mugabe’s recent remarks that “the country’s ancestors had endured worse treatment and conditions, including brutality, detention and many other inhumanities and deprivations at the hands of colonialists”.

But what about brutality, detention, and other deprivations at the hands of his regime? How does he explain such depredations in the post-Independence era? What was the fate of Lookout Masuku?

Then we had Cain Mathema making what must be some of the daftest remarks of the year — in a highly contested field. He said: “It’s not the president who invented poverty in Zimbabwe, (it was) foreign investors who came here, such as Cecil John Rhodes.”

Mathema is right. The president did not invent poverty. He just made it a great deal worse. Investors should take note: living standards have now fallen below those obtaining 40 years ago. A remarkable achievement for any leader and one which even Mathema would have difficulty excusing.

Muckraker was alarmed by Sunday Mirror columnist the Scrutator’s positive evaluation of Lands minister Joseph Made’s contribution to land reform. While Made might have spent many years at Arda and is a “qualified” (pun intended) agricultural economist, the Scrutator is silent on his disastrous trail there. Arda estates are some of the worst performers in the country.

It is also myopic to say only so-called “casualties of the land reform . . . hate him with a passion”. He claims Made was the first to make things (land reform presumably?) really work because by January 2003 the country had increased the number of “commercial farmers” from 4 500 to 80 000.

Two issues emerge here. It’s not simply casualties of Made’s ineptitude who “hate” him, but all those now facing starvation because of a programme executed with criminal malice and incompetence. Did the Scrutator expect Zimbabweans to award Made an honorary doctorate for predicting a bumper harvest that never was?

As for the number of commercial farmers, the Scrutator’s revelation is the stuff of fiction. Anyway, how do you explain the paradox of 4 500 white commercial farmers feeding the whole nation and then 80 000 black commercial farmers failing to do so, as the late Enos Chikowore pointed out at the Zanu PF congress?

And what has happened to those small-scale farmers who, we were always told, produced more than 70% of the maize? All displaced in the name of land reform and the Scrutator calls that Joseph Made’s greatest achievement!

As usual, we failed to make sense of Tendai Chari’s raillery against the media in Zimbabwe which he said was silent on the release of Judith Miller of the New York Times newspaper who was imprisoned for refusing to disclose a source.

Zimbabwean media were accused of “thinking inside the box” because they failed to make a connection between the US government’s actions and their implications for third world journalists.

It’s a pity we are having to be told of lack of press freedom in the US by the same “media” analysts and lecturers who have never written a single word in support of the Daily News and the plight of its workers; the same analysts who are quick to point out that the US is not a “paragon” of press freedom to justify the enactment of satanic laws like the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

As for claims that America is a paragon of press freedom, surely that can only be peddled by the state media here. We have no evidence of the Americans making such self-righteous claims for themselves.

What we know is that American media don’t believe a sitting president should be protected by law from public scrutiny. Nobody is infallible. They have attacked George Bush over Iraq and he was recently forced to accept that Hurricane Katrina was poorly handled after excoriating criticism in the press.

We know Chari is able to tell us how many US soldiers have died in the war in Iraq but is curiously silent on Zimbabwean soldiers who died in the DRC campaign.

It’s called “thinking outside the box” Mr Chari. We thought it was only Joseph Chinotimba who needed help to see Hurricane Katrina in its proper perspective. Remember Oliver Mtukudzi’s Handiro Dambudziko ?

Then there was Nathaniel Manheru and the IMF. He was patriotically furious that Zimbabwe was nearly expelled from the IMF when it was not the most delinquent debtor. We are not worried about Manheru’s contrived reasons why the IMF wanted Zimbabwe out. It is the league in which we find ourselves that worries us most.

The worst offenders, according to the fund, are Somalia, Liberia and Sudan. We are not quite that bad in terms of indebtedness apparently. And that is a cause for relief and celebration at Munhumutapa Building!

After a lot of head-scratching Manheru found the usual reasons for Zimbabwe’s problems with the fund: land reform and our involvement in the DRC war, as if there is anything redeeming about those disastrous adventures.

But an obvious point that Manheru conveniently ignored was that our fellow outcasts have been virtually at war during the whole period that they have failed to meet their obligations to the IMF. Zimbabwe was not. Which means our failure was almost entirely due to fiscal mismanagement.

As for Somalia, it has not had a government since the ouster of Siad Barre in 1991. The civil war is not yet over in Sudan. In Liberia the wounds of war are still raw.

It is this lack of a sense of shame that has been the curse of this country; that those who should be seeking to take the country further than Ian Smith did instead want to lead us back to the Stone Age so that we compare well with other failures!

Is success so unAfrican that we must always seek company among the world’s rogue states? We found ourselves being reminded again of the much-abused expression about “normalising the abnormal”.

And obviously when Manheru went ballistic about the IMF’s inflation projections of 400% by year-end he hadn’t seen the Central Statistical Office’s figures this week. By year-end the figure could be higher than 400% and there is nothing Gideon Gono can do about it. His crime is pretending that he can.

We liked the letter in the Herald last week from “Patriotic Farmer”. It was the usual tosh about how we must all support the government’s efforts. But like all these true patriots, the writer gave himself away. His letter carried a Mt Pleasant address!

Finally, we note the Met Office is now giving “predictions” instead of forecasts. The Department of Meteorological Services, as it is properly called, on Tuesday “predicted” that the rainy season would begin at the end of this week. Masvingo, Beitbridge, Mwenezi and Chivhu would be the first to benefit, we were

Let’s hope this prediction is not of the same sort as President Mugabe’s prediction of fuel deliveries, Joseph Made’s prediction of a bumper harvest, and Gideon Gono’s prediction for inflation!

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