Mass action OK if it’s Zanu PF

IT has been fascinating to watch the government and its media celebrating Kofi Annan’s decision not to mediate in the Zimbabwe crisis and instead hand the poisoned chalice to Benjamin Mkapa.

What exactly i

s it that they are celebrating?

That there will be no UNDP support for reconstruction following the depredations of Operation Murambatsvina? That there will be no balance-of-payments support because economic policy remains profoundly flawed? That despite this week’s figures, inflation will continue to skyrocket and jobs will be lost?

It is of course misdirected nationalist zeal that celebrates not being hauled before the Security Council. We can understand that. But does that mean things are going to get better now Mkapa is mediating? Do things look as if they are getting better?

The fact is Zimbabwe has lost the opportunity to have a settlement of its myriad problems and instead its leaders are happy to wallow in the mire for at least another two more years. Then they can rant and rave at the West and spout endlessly about “sovereignty” as the country sinks further, businesses fold and political divisions become unbridgeable.

What sort of victory is that?

The British embassy spelt out the situation which even the most die-hard columnists know to be true: this is a self-made crisis that will not be repaired without a comprehensive solution. Why should the British government, which has problems of its own, help pull President Mugabe out of the hole he has dug for himself? Lesson number one: if you want to get out of a hole, stop digging!

Can you imagine a government desperate for normalisation insulting the country it wants to deal with on a daily basis sounding like a child of five; a leader who has sabotaged nearly every facet of national production waving his fists at a leader whose country has increased its GDP to overtake France, according to the OECD?
What sort of logic is that?

The truth is there is no longer any logic at work. The British will give Mkapa a polite reception and then gently explain the facts of life to him.

There will be no help for Zimbabwe so long as the author of its decline continues to make life intolerable for his people. Everybody appears to understand that except Zanu PF and its captive press. Zimbabwe’s headlong decline is not a defeat for the British!

What a field day the state media has had with the Trudy Stevenson affair. This was truly an own goal for the MDC.
They have enabled every apologist to ignore Zanu PF’s well-established record of political violence to claim the MDC is the trouble-maker.

And to some extent they are right. There are elements in the MDC who are profoundly intolerant of dissenting views and who see it as their mission to impose one-party rule in the townships. Trudy was the victim of the MDC’s own Murambatsvina.

But then Nathaniel Manheru came to the rescue by setting the record straight. Zanu PF was the true party of violence and proud of it, he suggested last Saturday.

“Here is a princess of the Aryan race, one Dame Trudy Stevenson, pounded by the evil hand of a native, much the same way a few Aryan princes were justly sjamboked at the height of the land reforms for refusing with our land.”
Will all those claiming that human rights abuses in Zimbabwe are opposition “lies” please take note of this.

Women’s groups have reacted enthusiastically to the Domestic Violence Bill gazetted last week, which they believe is “comprehensive” enough to deal with any form of violence in the home.

“The effectiveness of the law will depend on its implementation,” was all the caution there was from Musasa Project director, Ednah Bhala. Her plea was for the “police and judiciary officers” to be well informed about issues of domestic violence to ensure a happy outcome.

Women’s Action Group director Edinah Musiyiwa told the Herald on Wednesday that women in the past found it difficult to “get recourse on domestic violence” as it was treated “as a private affair”.

Muckraker is less sanguine about the effectiveness of the proposed legislation. The issues at stake are much bigger than the legislation no matter how good and comprehensive. It is an issue of intolerance for dissent in both the home and the political spheres that is the biggest problem, not the absence of a law.

Surely the attempted murder of Harare North MP Trudy Stevenson by political rivals has nothing to do with domestic violence or the absence of law or male chauvinism. It is not as if there was no law to protect her. It will be the same with the proposed law — so long as we don’t want to tolerate opposing views and treat our rivals as “enemies” we are doomed as a nation. Unfortunately this scourge knows no tribe nor race.

In case we are not making ourselves clear, law on its own is simply not enough unless we learn to debate issues openly and agree to differ with sufficient levels of tolerance. Armed robberies, murder and rape are on the increase despite very clear laws. Child abuse cases have not abated for being severely punished.

A law against domestic violence is of no use to a woman or man who has been killed by a spouse during a family dispute. Look at how many local films beamed on national television during prime time in front of children appear to glorify physical violence as a natural response to provocation to understand what we mean.

Our leaders need to set the right tone by condemning violence in all its facets and in every sphere of life. The law can only be there to reinforce what society is doing right. It cannot change our culture on its own. If my political opponent is an “enemy” to be beaten why should my opponent in the home be not my enemy to be beaten also? Where do we draw the line?

Incidentally, how come there was almost funereal silence from both Musasa Project and Women’s Action Group following the brutal attack on Stevenson? Could this have something to do with trying not to put the wrong spotlight on the infallible Morgan Tsvangirai or is she excluded from protection on the basis of “racial barriers” that Manheru has erected?

Gentlemen, let’s get real. This hypocrisy and double-standards won’t get us anywhere as a nation. We are already a bad enough example for Africa without making it worse.

Does David Chapfika feel a compelling need to advertise his VIP credentials? Every afternoon at the Harare Sports Club’s Red Lion bar a worker comes along with a broom to sweep up the cigarette butts and other detritus of the day’s proceedings between the customers and the bar. Most people step aside to let her get on with her job. But not our Deputy Minister of Finance.

“No one tells me what to do,” he declared last weekend as the hapless sweeper was made to sweep around his feet while he propped up the bar.

We thought you would like to know this as an indicator of the sort of people we have leading this great nation of ours!

Then we had Mugabe’s clown prince, Didymus Mutasa, declaring that nobody from Makoni North would be participating in mass action. It would not be tolerated, he said.

What he meant was not so long as they are under his heel. Then he had a brilliant thought.

“In fact you should counter it and our action should be bigger than theirs.”

So mass action is OK so long as it comes from Zanu PF!

Does this person think before engaging the mouth?

We should ask the same question of GMB’s long-acting CEO, Rt Col Samuel Muvuti.

Asked last week why the parastatal was unable to supply sufficient maize to millers and paid farmers less than private buyers, he said he does not talk to the Zimbabwe Independent.

“Handitauri nemareporters ekuIndependent takarimirana kudhara (I don’t talk to reporters from the Independent. We are enemies),” he declared before hanging up.

The GMB, he needs reminding, is a public corporation, not a partisan utility. That means he is accountable to all Zimbabweans. Childish and hostile statements made for political purposes constitute a serious dereliction of duty.

Muvuti should be told that in no uncertain terms.

One can’t fail to feel a deep sense of shame reading Nathaniel Manheru’s “Other Side”. It’s a pity. The fellow sounds like he went to school and did some serious reading. What does he do with that education?
Much of the time he wastes tonnes of space in the Saturday Herald trying to show off his learning instead of giving readers clear, straightforward opinions and not playing some latter-day obscurantist of the Dark Ages.

They say it’s better to keep it simple. Words are meant to illuminate ideas, not to draw attention to the affectations of the author.

But it is evident that what he doesn’t have are positive ideas to propagate. There he was last week lapsing into the favourite pastime of those with nothing positive to contribute to national discourse — tribalism and racism.

This time the target was his new nemesis, Professor Jonathan Moyo.

Moyo explained in an article in the Independent last week that the land reform was chaotic, which is what every sane person will tell you — from the peasant on the farm to President Mugabe who has launched several land audits to get things back on track.

The squabbles over ownership and the continuing looting of both crops and equipment are further evidence of the same. Low productivity is another as the nation fails to feed itself and tobacco output has collapsed from a record high of 236 million kg in 2000 to 50 million kg this year. Hence all the lies about sanctions because we can’t earn enough foreign currency.

Instead of Manheru proving Moyo wrong, he went for the person.

Moyo should be forever grateful to Mugabe for getting a farm in Mazowe in the “heartland of Mashonaland”, fulminated Manheru, his tribal spleen overflowing with venom. Moyo was made to “jump racial, tribal and geographical barriers to have land in the choicest part of Zimbabwe”, raved Manheru enviously, without telling us where in the context of the Unity Accord Moyo was supposed to get a farm.

What is the less sophisticated, easily manipulated reader to make of these clearly xenophobic sentiments from those who should espouse government policies and act as role models for the youth, we wonder? Isn’t this the hypocrisy of state bureaucrats that has been the bane of African governance since the end of colonial rule?

For you cannot be honest and be a tribalist at the same time. It is a unique quality of Manheru alone. How
depraved, how petty, how low can one so high get?

‘The poor dump city life,” announced the Herald of Saturday. Without reading the story, one could easily tell something was terribly wrong from the verb “dump”. You dump something you don’t like, something without value. You don’t dump a diamond ring in a jewellery shop simply because you can’t afford it.

Which is what the Herald wanted to say but found politically incorrect. The sub-head exposed the fraud: “High rentals, low wages force people out.” How does one reconcile such incongruities?

By Tuesday the whole truth, nothing but the truth, was there for all to see: it was the city that was chasing away the wretched of the earth.

The same paper reported that a family of five now needs $68 million to see it through the month, which very few Zimbabweans can afford. So who is dumping who here?

Isn’t this part of the fallout from the diabolical Operation Murambatsvina that destroyed the informal sector that had proved such a useful safety net for retrenchees, small entrepreneurs and school-leavers?

At times the truth forces itself out from the under the sludge of sunshine journalism.

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