Muckraker

Ministerial doctorates didn’t come from the Third Chimurenga


THERE are still more brickbats being aimed at Professor Arthur Mutambara for daring to enter the Zimbabwean political circus.

The latest came from Ranga “Simpleton” Mat

aire of The Voice. His bone of contention is that when Mutambara was elected to head the MDC two weeks ago he should have told potential voters how he was going to reconcile his Western education and experiences with his new role as leader of an opposition party with the interests of the country at heart.

Mataire complained that Mutambara had “edited” out a huge chunk of his “biography” in his speech, like being a “cheerleader” when University of Zimbabwe students “went on the rampage destroying property”.
 
Mutambara’s stay outside the country is being portrayed as a huge political handicap, without Mataire demonstrating how President Mugabe is a better leader for his 26 years in power.
 
What Muckraker finds laughable is Mataire’s concern about the influence of Western education on Mutambara. How many cabinet ministers in Zimbabwe today got their doctorates from Britain or the US? They certainly didn’t get them from the Third Chimurenga.

What makes them any different in their world outlook? Is this a case of selective amnesia or plain ignorance by a “simpleton” singing for his supper? Dr Tafataona Mahoso is another product of American education. What would Mataire make of his case?


Talking of which, the doctor was recently fulminating against the IMF; that it is “a cruel debt collector”. The Voice reports that Mahoso was furious that the IMF was demanding repayment of its debt from “a country undergoing an economic revolution”.

When did an economic collapse become a “revolution”?

Mahoso said the money Zimbabwe had paid to the IMF was needed here more than anywhere else to buy chemicals and fertilisers.

“What we are paying back is not what we got or what we bargained for,” fumed Mahoso sagely. “We should look for other sources of financial assistance.”

But surely even in his new-found luxury Mahoso should know about something called interest when you borrow money. As for the “bargain”, we would love to hear what it was they “bargained for”. It’s also interesting that in suggesting other sources of financial assistance Mahoso doesn’t mention our Chinese friends because no money ever flows from that corner of the globe despite all the patriotic lies about the “Look East” policy.


Apparently the best story for Mahoso was about heavily armed Kenyan police who stormed the headquarters of the Standard newspaper and smashed its printing press. AFP reports that the cause of this senseless outrage was a story which said President Mwai Kibaki “had held secret talks with a political opponent”.

“Dozens of balaclava-clad officers, carrying AK-47 assault rifles raided the Standard group’s offices shortly after midnight, seizing computers and transmission equipment for the independent Kenya Television Network,” says AFP.

In his comments in the Sunday Mail Mahoso reminded us that soon after coming into power Kibaki sent two officials from his Ministry of Information to Zimbabwe to “learn our approach to media policy and media regulation” so that they could always anticipate issues instead of reacting to them.
 
We don’t need to labour the point that they appear to have learnt their lesson well. What they did to the Standard is what happened at the Daily News offices in Harare and there is no chance that the perpetrators of that crime will ever be brought to book. With a bit of Mahoso’s prescient media laws, the Kenyan authorities could follow up their dastardly deed by closing down the paper altogether.


Nathaniel Manheru appears vexed by the Zimbabwe Independent’s rebranding exercise. Our new masthead represents a “confession of possible shareholder changes and affinities with the British Independent, identifiable by the fish-eagle”, he inventively tells his few remaining readers.

“The Zimbabwe bird had no appeal for them and that is as nationalist as they are. I hope Mahoso is watching and asking questions in what clearly appears to be a strengthening of the British hand in the local media.”

This puerile conspiracy theory rests upon a false premise: that the eagle on the London Independent’s masthead and the African fish-eagle on ours are one and the same thing.

This crass ignorance leads Manheru to direct the MIC chairman to conduct a probe.
 
There has been no shareholder change at the Independent or Standard. If Manheru was a well-informed commentator, instead of an excitable party zealot, he would know that. And why is a fish-eagle any less patriotic than a Zimbabwe bird?

Only in Zimbabwe’s Orwellian media climate do you find a presidential spokesman instructing a newspaper on what species of bird it should have on its cover!


It doesn’t end there. In the Sunday Mail, Mahoso occupied seemingly endless column inches lecturing this paper on what stories it should carry and on which pages. He attacked a “dubious and bogus lead story” about Aippa which we published on January 6 and suggested an alternative story carried elsewhere in the paper about journalists killed in the pursuit of their work would have been more deserving. The British and US in Iraq were responsible for creating the conditions that led to the largest number of deaths, he claimed.

Mahoso omitted to declare an interest here. His job is on the line if government amends the legislation under which his officious commission operates. Our story on January 6 reported government law officers as telling the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights in Banjul that the government was reviewing Aippa with a view to removing offending provisions.
 
Subsequent communications between the minister and ZUJ concerning the composition of the MIC would appear to bear this out. Mahoso failed to mention that salient point while he pursued his batty championship of Unesco’s New World Information and Communications Order, shot down by the US and UK, among others, because it provided the means by which totalitarian regimes could regulate their media.

If NWICO had survived, it would of course have provided international justification for vicious laws like Aippa. As it is, the Unesco initiative is as dead as a dodo and will not be revived.

But that won’t prevent Mahoso hankering after it.

“Events in Kenya on March 2 indicate that media regulation is necessary on a global scale if we are to be spared the violent and unexpected clashes which could have been handled by tribunals and courts if anticipated by law,” Mahoso pontificates.

In other words state violence against the free media can only be prevented by state control!


Manheru meanwhile takes another pot shot at the Independent’s Dumisani Muleya, the target of official bile the previous week.
 
Muleya is now accused of being motivated by sour grapes in his comments on the National Journalistic and Media awards.
 
Muleya is not the only journalist to comment on the shambles at the awards ceremony and the cronyism which appeared to guide those presiding over it. We wonder why Manheru feels a parental need to prevent this criticism. But the real reason for Manheru’s bitterness with Muleya is not difficult to find. Anchoring Page 1 in the Independent last Friday was a story by Muleya headed “Charamba in hot soup over Tsholotsho”.
 
So, suddenly all is clear.


Zanu PF’s victory in the Chegutu mayoral election has come with the customary noise about people “finally” discovering the truth about the MDC. The ruling party “romped home to victory”, we were told. The “beleaguered opposition” was “buried” by the winning candidate.

Well, actually, it wasn’t quite like that. Zanu PF’s candidate won by 3 236 votes to 2 335. Hardly the burial Webster Shamu was boasting about.
 
But let them have their day. Nobody believes an election result in Zimbabwe any more, be it for president or mayor. If the MDC, fractious and weakened, is capable of securing 41% of the vote, we can be confident they would have no difficulty taking Chegutu back in a free poll.

And, as the example of Harare shows, Zanu PF is incapable of delivering even the most elementary of services.

Shamu said his party’s victory was “a fitting birthday present” for President Mugabe. Was that the campaign pitch used by Martin Zimani we wonder?

Shamu also claimed service delivery had collapsed under Francis Dhlakama of the MDC and promised the “beginning of Zanu PF’s development plan” for the town.
 
“The former MDC mayor had virtually no programme of a turnaround strategy,” declared the oracle of Chegutu. “We are now going to come up with a clear strategy to improve service delivery and meet all obligations.”

We would like to advise the people of Chegutu to visit Harare and Chitungwiza to see for themselves the success story of Zanu PF’s “clear strategy” before they start celebrating the dawn of a new day. And of course Shamu is Minister for Policy Implementation.

By the way the winning candidate’s low vote of 3 236 tells us all we need to know about how much faith people have in the ruling party. In civilised countries that would be taken as a vote of no confidence.


Isn’t it about time, what with all the awards ceremonies going on, that we had a Most Poorly Performing Parastatal award?
 
Zesa for instance is still telling customers that it cannot get to their homes because of fuel shortages. Its faults line is a mission to get through to. And the staff have evidently not been taught the finer points of customer relations. You can tell this outfit is run by someone with close links to the ruling party.

Eric Bloch would no doubt like to nominate Air Zimbabwe but that would be unfair to several other companies that are vying for the award. The correlation between poor performance and fawning praise offered on the occasion of the president’s birthday provides a clue as to who the main contenders are.


So, the MDC has been promoted to the “largest opposition party in Africa, particularly in parliament” by the government. The claim is being touted by Walter Mzembi, Zimbabwe’s head of delegation to a joint EU/ACP parliamentary assembly session in Brussels where he hopes to get EU countries to justify their hard-line stance on Zimbabwe.

Nelson Chamisa, who is part of the delegation, will probably be reluctant to endorse Mzembi’s claim that Zimbabwe is a “thriving democracy”. Does the MDC receive coverage in the public media commensurate with its standing in parliament? How long did it take the courts to hear the MDC’s applications over the conduct of elections in 2000 and 2002?
 
Zanu PF MPs, found by the High Court to be unlawfully elected because of violence, inducement or coercion, were allowed to continue sitting all the way through to 2005 while they appealed to the Supreme Court, thus shoring up the ruling party’s majority.
 
Mzembi needs to be asked a few simple questions: Where is Joseph Mwale, the alleged assassin of Tichaona Chiminya and Talent Mabika? How, with all the state’s resources at their disposal are law enforcement agents unable to bring him to court?
 
And how come the Daily News bombers continue to roam free?
 
Forget the Euro MPs. Why have these questions not been asked in our own parliament? 


Muckraker had a chuckle reading a story in the Sunday Mail titled “Zimpapers devoted to promoting family values”. The paper went on to claim it was promoting family values through its annual “Bride of the year” contest.

Group chief executive Justin Mutasa conceded that staging the contest cost money, adding “but we believe we cannot put a monetary value to marriage and strong families”.
 
This might be true of the Sunday Mail. But one wonders what family values are being promoted by the scatological Manheru.
 
And what of the indoor “small houses” at Herald House that we hear so much about on the grapevine?

Remember, Zimpapers bosses last week blocked a parliamentary select committee from probing the group’s family values which include sexual harassment and battery of female journalists.