HomeCommentEditor's Memo

Editor’s Memo

I spy . . .

PRESIDENT Mbeki is dealing with British-sponsored spies bent on deposing the democratically elected government of President


The spies in question came to Zimbabwe last week under the guidance of a British intelligence officer. According to the state media, they wanted to meet President Mugabe but he would have none of that. They went back to South Africa where they met with President Mbeki to brief him on their “spying mission”.

President Mbeki, media reports say, is fully behind the efforts of the church in South Africa to assist those who have been affected by Operation Murambatsvina.

So is he supping with British-sponsored devils? Is any sane person expected to believe the latest spy story? That is how ridiculous the thinking of information handlers in the Zimbabwe public media has become.

They expect us to believe the silly story that the South African Council of Churches delegation led by the Archbishop of Cape Town Njongonkulu Ndungane visited Zimbabwe last week at the behest of British intelligence who want to destabilise the country.

The spy theory was supported by Harare Anglican Bishop Nolbert Kunonga who I saw on television on Sunday confirming the spies’ British links. He described the visit as “part of British attempts to destabilise the country by painting a false picture of developments here for the international world”.

Is it not true that women from the Anglican Church in Harare have been collecting clothes, food and blankets to help victims of the state-instigated tsunami? So what false picture was Bishop Kunonga talking about here?

Can I also ask the bishop: who is destabilising the country here — a few clergymen who have come to see how they can help, or a government that one day allows people to build illegal structures and then wakes up the next day to destroy them, dumping their occupants on the streets in mid-winter?

I would like to believe that Bishop Kunonga has evidence of the destabilisation caused by the South African clergymen because his colleagues in the Zimbabwe Council of Churches have remained unfazed by his partisan posturing. The Zimbabwe Council of Churches endorsed the SACC’s follow-up trip to see how they can help.

Interestingly, the SA churchmen this week said they were not that keen to see Mugabe. They wanted to help victims of his depredations. In an interview with VoA this week, head of the delegation, Methodist presiding Bishop of Southern Africa, Ivan Abrahams, was clear on their mission.

“If there is a perception that local churches and local NGOs don’t have

access to the president, why should a group from outside come and create that kind of access?” asked Abrahams.

Should we not be thankful when the few friends we still have come to help in our time of need? Does the church have to adopt politicians’ mode of creating layers of useless bureaucracy before anything is achieved?

The church in Zimbabwe has done enormous work since the start of Operation Murambatsvina and should focus on that important mission. That is why most churches did not come out to sing in chorus with Bishop Kunonga.

In case Bishop Kunonga has forgotten, could I remind him that Archbishop Ndungane was in February 2003 invited by President Mugabe to mediate in Zimbabwe’s dispute with Britain.

“Mugabe also endorsed my efforts to assist Zimbabwe in this regard,” Ndungane said at the time. He was not being used by the British at the time, we trust!

Archbishop Ndungane, widely respected in South Africa, should however not be surprised by government’s volte face. In Zanu PF lexicon a spy is a person who comes to Zimbabwe on a fact-finding mission but who does not immediately sing the praises of government’s (read Mugabe’s) latest project.

This is the hallmark of a dictatorship. Its leadership feels insecure all the time. It cannot bear any form of criticism because the incumbent wants to be portrayed as the best person for the job. Such administrations see ghosts everywhere.

We were told two weeks ago that a British spy had planted a story on the wires to say Russian President Vladmir Putin had called President Mugabe a dictator. An African Union envoy sent to probe the effects of Operation Murambatsvina was quickly linked to Western intelligence. He immediately became an undesirable and left without visiting the transit camps.

Perhaps we are looking in the wrong places for all these spies. In February President Mugabe blasted ruling-party officials for selling central committee and politburo secrets to hostile nations (South Africa!). He said even if it was his own brother or sister, he would condemn them.

For the Zanu PF government the world has become one big conspiracy in which Zimbabwe is the victim. This may seem like a smart move, especially when there are senior clergymen to endorse the subterfuge.

As Bishop Kunonga said at the weekend: “There is a danger of a prophet being turned into an advocate of the devil. This is exactly what has become the case with some of our church leaders.”


Previous articleEric Bloch Column
Next articleComment

Recent Posts

Stories you will enjoy

Recommended reading