Zanu PF feasts as povo wallow in privation

WE were fascinated to hear Zanu PF chairman John Nkomo admonishing delegates to the party’s beanfeast in Esigodini last weekend not to eat too much in front of a starving population.

He listed the &

#8220;beasts” scheduled for slaughter and the tonnes of maize set aside for delegates. But he warned against too much gluttony in front of a national audience suffering unparalleled food shortages and privation. He didn’t actually use the expression made famous by the former British High Commissioner to Kenya, Sir Edward Clay, about a predatory elite vomiting on its own shoes, but it sounded similar.

Fifty head of cattle were slaughtered for the 3 000 delegates (60 per beast). They were also fed with 48 goats, 11 kudu, five reed buck, 17 impala, five buffaloes, 1,10 tonnes of rice, 60 chickens, 50 kg of wheat, and 11 tonnes of maize meal. And that was just the first course!

In addition to feasting there was entertainment. The Sunday Mail told us Nkomo had the delegates “in stitches” when he said: “I want to take this opportunity to thank the party chairman for his remarks”. That was shortly after giving his remarks.

President Mugabe also had them rolling in the aisles when he demanded liver rather than steak. They fell about when he said he was “a very, very good teacher until I was spoiled by politics”.

The rest of the country might not have found any of this quite so funny!

Muckraker liked the poster which said: “Humpty Dumpty fell off the wall — and all Blair’s horses could not put MDC back again.”

But what happened to “all the king’s men”? Did they not play any role in the MDC’s demise?

Another poster said: “Economic turnaround — none but ourselves.”

Now that one was really funny!

Many of those companies that have contributed so notably to our “turnaround” were anxious to identify themselves with Zanu PF’s record. Tel*One’s board, management and staff joined the nation in celebrating Zanu PF’s “landslide victory” in the senate election. Noczim saluted the party’s “courageous leadership” and said it was confident the delegates would emerge with “decisions and resolutions that expedite our economic take-off”.

Zupco, Zimpapers and Zimpost added their fawning voices.

Rarely has the case for privatisation and professionalism in parastatal management been more self-evident. Air Zimbabwe chose to single out Vice-President Joice Mujuru for congratulation.

“From one high flyer to another”, was their message. This was the same weekend where it was revealed that Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono had told them he couldn’t go on keeping them airborne with RBZ handouts.

Muckraker would be keen to know if staff at corporations such as Tel*One were consulted by management before having their congratulations offered to Zanu PF on its “landslide victory” in an election where only 19% of voters turned out.

The Sunday News said in an editorial “inflation-weary consumers need a respite from greedy business people who are increasing prices in a totally unsustainable manner”. No doubt the paper had Air Zimbabwe, Noczim, Tel*One and Zimpost in mind!

And yet again we were told Zanu PF would sort out multiple ownership of farms “once and for all”.

Why does the party think we should believe them this time around? And why does President Mugabe appear unable to do anything about it?

Mugabe’s undiplomatic remarks about Jan Egeland were described in the official press as “off the cuff”. “Off the wall” would have been a better description! But the president’s indignation was understandable.

Here was somebody who had been expected to reverse the highly damaging (Anna) Tibaijuka judgement. That has been the thrust of Zimbabwean diplomacy over several months. Even Kofi Annan had been dragged into this desperate bid. But the UN declined at all its various levels to oblige Mugabe.

On the contrary, Egeland embarrassed the regime by pointing out that Tibaijuka’s report was not a personal view, it was the view of all the UN’s experts in the field, that crimes had been committed in Operation Murambatsvina, and that social conditions in Zimbabwe represented not just a crisis but a national “meltdown”.

No wonder Mugabe was furious. But that is what happens when you start to believe your own propaganda. Was it seriously hoped that Annan would undermine his own special envoy? What sort of delusional thinking was this?

There was a wonderfully colourful picture on the front page of the Business Herald on Friday. It showed flower-sellers in Harare’s CBD with a caption saying Zimbabwe expected to earn US$750 million from the sale of cut flowers to the European Union and other markets this year.

But there was one thing the Herald forgot to say. The picture of flower-sellers and their attractive bouquets was taken before Operation Murambatsvina. The flower-sellers, who had been a feature of Africa Unity Square for nearly a century, were among the first victims of the brutal crackdown. Nothing stands there today to entice tourists across from Meikles. It is a barren spot. It was another Herald illusion!

Australia last week came up with “new” names of politicians and business executives on its sanctions list. It was as much comical as it was a worrying reflection of the research capacity of the Australians. They not only had inexplicable names on their list but often got dates of birth so wrong you wondered if they wanted to be taken seriously.

For instance, Tsitsi Muzenda was born almost on the same day as her late father Simon Muzenda. It was all the more farcical because it is easy to get these details either on the Internet or by simply asking any Zimbabwean with something between their ears. Not so with the Australians.

Eric Bloch was reduced to a boyish 24-year-old. Apparently he is not complaining about that bit!

A less indulgent inclusion on the list was Dairibord chief executive Anthony Mandiwanza. He said the addition of businesspeople to the list was “nonsensical”. Despite the fact that he didn’t know the criteria used to draw up the list, he was loud in his reaction.

“It is a desperate action by the Australian government and I do not care about my inclusion on the list since we do not do any business with Australia,” declared Mandiwanza with reckless finality.

What could Australia be desperate about we wonder? And when he says “we do not do any business with Australia” who is “we”? Mandiwanza and his family? Mandiwanza and Daribord or Mandiwanza and Zimbabwe? Is this business exclusivity perhaps a result of the tunnel vision engendered by the Look East policy? He must start on lessons in Mandarin. Chris Mutsvangwa should come in handy here.

President Mugabe was equally bitter. He accused British settlers in Australia of embarking on a “genocidal massacre of Aborigines, reducing the survivors into hopeless alcoholics and objects of pity by crushing their spirit”.

He added with melodramatic lyricism: “They have destroyed a whole people, just as the Americans used to do with Red Indians — you must have seen the pictures. But in Australia they succeeded more than the Americans. Does Australia have a real system of human rights that can compare with our own system?”

What Mugabe should be reminded of is that history has since moved on. What was he doing in the early 1980s in Matabeleland and Midlands with his North Korean killers? How many innocent Zimbabweans were slaughtered in that “act of madness”? And how many people either lost their lives or were maimed just to keep Zanu PF in power in 2000? What system of human rights was he using?

There were celebrations at Munhumutapa Building last week. Nathaniel Manheru couldn’t hide his glee at discovering that his old adversary from university days, Trevor Ncube, was on the Australian sanctions list.

“White fury flattens all,” observed Manheru hilariously.

But then that was not all. His government also couldn’t be outdone by a foreign power. It seized Ncube’s passport for as yet unknown reasons. Here is a rogue government that claims to have brought democracy to Zimbabwe yet it confiscates citizens’ passports unlawfully. Just what is the operative law that says anybody from the President’s Office can seize your passport?

But these are questions beyond Manheru’s evil heart to raise. We would be expecting him to have a conscience or even to imagine something like that happening to him. He can’t believe it is possible to taste your own medicine the way Phillip Chiyangwa and James Makamba did after they voted for those lengthy detentions without trial.

He called the seizure of Ncube’s passport “compulsive patriotism” as if it was a sin for Zimbabweans to work or stay outside the country. All Zimbabweans in the diaspora must now view Zimbabwe as the world’s last “penal colony” where all those denied political asylum elsewhere must be banished and denied freedom of movement without cause.

President Mugabe seems to have suddenly realised that his government is a failure. After seizing the best land in the country over the past six years, it has failed to make land “the economy”. Instead we have been humiliated by having to rely on food donations.

Last week Mugabe acknowledged in Esigodini that there was lack of planning for the next agricultural season, ostensibly because there were white farmers resisting land reforms, “often supported by some of us in the party and government”.

“We know every year there is going to be an agricultural season. Yet year in, year out we are caught flat-footed and unprepared,” lamented Mugabe self-righteously.

Isn’t it amazing that there should be people opposed to land reform in a party that is not known for independent thought? As for the flat-footed bit, the question is why hasn’t he acted on those failing to deliver inputs to farmers timeously? Is it not because a fish rots from the head?

He however promised action by cabinet in two days. This late in the season and he still wants to be taken seriously!

Herald columnist Campion Mereki says history will never forgive Zimbabwe’s private media for its present actions. He means telling it like it is.

Does he seriously think history will praise a captive state media that is not allowed to criticise the government however disastrous its record? A media that is only free to criticise the opposition, a media that is completely dishonest about the country’s myriad problems? Why does he think history will reward state eunuchs for failing to do their duty?

Judging by its op/ed pages on Monday and Tuesday, the Herald is running out of contributors. Any fool can trot out the childish rubbish credited to Mereki. And he appears completely ignorant about media ownership in South Africa.
Can’t the Herald do better than this?

Muckraker was intrigued by the news that President Mugabe was attending the inaugural meeting of a strange outfit called the Perdana Global Peace Forum in Kuala Lumpur. It transpired that this was the brainchild of former Malaysian premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Mugabe and Mohamad appear to have a pact where they agree to attend each other’s meetings. But why should Mugabe be invited to a conference on world peace? Zimbabwe is a very minor player on the world stage.

Perhaps part of the answer could be discerned in the forum’s agenda. Apart from escalating terrorism and relentless environmental degradation, the conference would discuss the systematic violation of human rights.

We hope former Malaysian deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim will be among the speakers together with Gabriel Shumba from Zimbabwe.

That should keep them busy!

Previous articleEditor’s memo
Next articleComment

Recent Posts

Stories you will enjoy

Recommended reading

You have successfully subscribed to the newsletter

There was an error while trying to send your request. Please try again.

NewsDay Zimbabwe will use the information you provide on this form to be in touch with you and to provide updates and marketing.