Muckraker

Suckers, parrots & Zanu PF ‘bravery’



JA”>IT is remarkable how deceitful propaganda feeds on itself. From the suggestion that Zimbabwe can expect a bumper harvest, we have now moved to the claim that the country has already reaped a bumper harvest.


Monday’s Herald told us Zimbabweans had something to celebrate on Africa Day.


“After all, the rainy season has been good and there has been a bumper harvest.”


So, it’s no longer wishful thinking, it’s a fact!


And we now have the first diplomat to fall for this phoney forecast. India’s new ambassador to Harare, Ajit Kumar, told journalists after his meeting with Vice-President Joseph Msika that India was happy that “this year Zimbabwe was going to have a bumper harvest”.


Now we understand the importance of being diplomatic. But swallowing hook, line and sinker the mendacious claims of the regime when every single analyst — including UN agencies — has expressed scepticism about those claims is foolhardy indeed.


Let’s hope Mr Kumar is able to explain himself when the famine figures start coming in. To date India’s “support” for Zimbabwe’s land reform programme has involved supplying rice to supplement falling maize production!


We appreciate that caged parrots such as Caesar Zvayi and Lowani Ndlovu are obliged to squawk on behalf of their masters. But it would be helpful that when doing so they could make an attempt to get elementary facts right.


Ndlovu for instance appears to think South Africa was first colonised in 1852. And he expects us to support him in this falsehood.


The Zimbabwe Independent, among other “running dogs of the apartheid press”, would have you believe, he claimed on Sunday, “the absolute colonial rubbish that South Africa has been independent since 1852”.


We don’t recall having mentioned this at any point. But if we had, we would be unlikely to have got the date wrong by 200 years!


As any “O” Level student could tell Ndlovu, South Africa was first colonised by the Dutch in 1652. The Sunday Mail columnist managed to get the date wrong five times in his article without a single editorial intervention!


But Ndlovu is not alone in his ignorance. On April 25, Tafataona Mahoso told us South Africa was in 1948 a “self-governed (sic) British colony”.


This liberty with the facts enabled him to proceed to claim that Britain, as a signatory of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “would not have allowed its star colony, South Africa, to proclaim apartheid at exactly the same time as the promulgation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights if that document had been about human rights and if it had been truly universal”.


That would be a plausible argument if South Africa had indeed been a British colony in 1948. But in fact it had succeeded from colonial status to dominion status in 1910 and under the terms of the Statute of Westminster in 1931 had become a fully sovereign state. As was the case with Australia, Canada, New Zealand, India, Pakistan and Ceylon in 1948, Britain could not intervene in its internal affairs.


No doubt, in the spirit of Third Chimurenga generalisation which last week saw Nathaniel Manheru contemptuously dismissing the  publication of phoney pictures as inconsequential to his wider claims about the British and Americans in Iraq, Mahoso would argue that this is all a quibble; that the Afrikaner Nationalist government of DF Malan, which was bitterly anti-British, was in reality a British colonial front.


But as no South African historian has yet advanced such an imaginative theory, we should not entertain Mahoso’s!


It does at least usefully illustrate how those responsible for policing the media are able to get away with significant distortions of the record for the sake of their threadbare arguments.


Still with Mahoso’s distortions, we should note that Chengetai Zvauya, Andy Moyse and Clive Wilson were acquitted in the High Court last week. The three were charged with criminal defamation after the Standard in 2000 carried a story claiming the constitutional commission printed its report before consultations were completed. We recall Patrick Chinamasa inviting others to feed at the state’s trough — ie join in the lawsuit. Jonathan Moyo testified against them, claiming his credibility as the commission’s spokesman was at stake.


Mahoso predetermined their fate by regarding the trio as convicted when in fact their appeal had suspended their convictions. He was asked last year in court at the Daily News hearing if he was aware that the case was under appeal. He said he wasn’t.


Is he now aware the three were acquitted last week? Or is he still not paying attention to inconvenient facts?


Muckraker roared with laughter on Saturday when he saw the coward Manheru telling Roy Bennett he was lucky that “I, Nathaniel, the son of Manheru”, was not in parliament on the day of the fracas with Patrick Chinamasa.


“As we say in Shona, he would have seen it.”


Seen what Nathaniel? You and whose army? Because like all Zanu PF cowards you would never act unless you had the instruments of state power backing you up. We know all about your kind of bravery. We have seen it in Joseph Mwale’s exploits. We have seen it in the workers dumped on the roadside in Odzi.


We have seen it in the vicious abuse of decent principled men such as Desmond Tutu and Pius Ncube who cannot reply to your facile insults — or “insulations” as you ineptly wrote last week. We have seen it in the blatant lies peddled every week in your semi-literate column over which your supine editors appear to have no jurisdiction.


We have on record your threat that “Bennett’s jaws and all should just have been broken in swift and overwhelming vengeance”. That you believe in violence is not in doubt. But should the Minister of Justice accept the protection of one so brave that he could not even admit his authorship of the column from which he waves his fists?


It was instructive to read Witness Mangwende’s remarks made outside parliament last Thursday to stir up the hired mob that was trucked in to express their wrath over the assault on Chinamasa. Mangwende, and Mike Madiro in Mutare, were strident in telling Roy Bennett where he could not set foot again. All sorts of threats were made against Bennett by these fiery zealots. Even William Nhara was photographed waving his fists around.


What have these three got in common?


They are losers. Mangwende’s career has been in steady decline since the heady days when he was Foreign minister in the early 1980s. We all recall the incident with Jimmy Carter! Since then he has fetched up at the department dealing with war veterans where even the kindest observer would be hard-put to use the word “success”.


Now he has been rescued from obscurity by President Mugabe and put in charge of Harare. Apart from subverting democratic governance in the capital, he clearly thinks the job description involves hurling abuse at MPs who, unlike him, were actually elected to parliament.


Mike Madiro lost the 2000 contest for Mutare South. William Nhara lost a by-election bid for Harare Central last year. Yet they have the cheek to tell Bennett where he can and cannot go!


Nothing more clearly illustrates the intolerant and anti-democratic character of the ruling party than these popularly rejected demagogues attempting to forbid the access of an elected MP to his constituency and to parliament.


It might be worth recording what Chinamasa actually said last Tuesday that caused the furore in the first place. This is how Hansard recorded his remarks about Bennett: “He forgets that his forefathers were thieves. And he forgets that what he owns — the whole of Chimanimani — was not because of his intelligence but was a legacy … That is an inheritance of stolen wealth accumulated over a century-and-a-half. I want to warn him that we have taken over Charleswood Farm, and he must not set foot again on that ground.


“Bennett — I hope you are listening. Your forefathers were thieves whether they came here in 1890 or stayed in England.”


In fact Bennett bought Charleswood Farm in 1983 with a certificate of No Present Interest from the government. The property comprises 7 000 acres, of which 300 are arable and the remainder mountainside. Hardly the whole of Chimanimani! And he consulted extensively among the local community before buying the farm. They have supported him through thick and thin. And now Zanu PF losers say he can’t go back to his farm!


Didymus Mutasa, as always, managed to brighten things up with some suitably daft remarks. He was accused by Bennett of kicking him from behind, a move many would consider a good exhibition of Zanu PF bravery.


Asked by VoA if he had in fact kicked Bennett, Mutasa replied:


“Yes — restraining him from beating up a member of parliament. You don’t just wait there when a mad man is charging at you. It’s true. I kicked him very hard. What’s wrong with that?”


Interviewer: “Some would ask that you could have restrained yourself just like you are asking Mr Bennett to restrain himself.”


Mutasa: “Why? Because I am a black man?”


Interviewer: “No — because you are a minister and an honourable member of parliament.”


Mutasa: “Exactly, and that is what honour is all about. You don’t just stand there watching a fellow minister being abused.”


Asked whether people should take the law into their own hands, now that it appeared Bennett’s safety was in question, Mutasa replied: “That’s what he was looking for, so he’s going to have it. It’s his fault…We are just letting the events unfold in the country, and if the people go violent against Bennett, and if he gets hurt in the process, it is his own outlook. That is what he has been inviting and he’s going to have it.”


And this is a senior government minister, we need to remind ourselves!


There appear to be strenuous efforts by Zanu PF to justify its usurpation of the powers of MDC executive mayors in Bulawayo and Harare. The Sunday Mail ran a story about a celebration in Harare on Saturday to mark the appointment of Witness Mangwende as resident minister and governor of the capital.


This became an opportunity for Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo to sing Mangwende’s praises. He said Mangwende’s appointment was “key to the restoration of Harare’s former glory as the Sunshine city”.


This miraculous rebirth would be achieved through coordinated infrastructural development and maintenance, said Chombo. He didn’t say why central government had not released those resources to a popularly elected council or in what respect former mayor Elias Mudzuri had failed. Isn’t it true that residents’ interests are being sacrificed to massage Zanu PF’s inordinately huge ego after losing control of the city to the opposition MDC?


In typical Zanu PF electioneering propaganda, residents were promised that their transport problems “would soon be a thing of the past”. Government was going to purchase 150 buses and 65 commuter omnibuses through the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company.


Is this the same outfit run by one Bright Matonga which managed to purchase only 49 buses from the projected 200 last year? Has there been a change of management since Matonga was taken to court on accusations of abusing public funds meant for the purchase of Kopolo buses?


Of course it would be too much to expect a Sunday Mail reporter to ask any of these inconvenient questions. It’s easier for him to swallow the propaganda and then regurgitate it for their gullible readers.


Did you notice the bottle of mineral water sitting beside President Mugabe during his Sky News interview? Evidently the president shares with us a distrust of Harare’s water supply. But how many people can afford the alternatives?