Muckraker

The day Moyo’s armour got a piercing

HOW time flies. It is now three-and-a-half months since the election. So you would naturally suppose Zanu PF and all those celebrating its “crushing” victory would have had time to fulfil promises made to the electorate.

For example, what has happened to the following promises published in the last week of the campaign: “An end to sanctions”; “No disruption to fuel supplies”; “Faster economic turnaround”; and “More currency inflows”?


In any normal democracy the opposition and the media would be haunting the president and his ministers with questions about those broken promises, just as they would be asking Mugabe why he appointed Emmerson Mnangagwa, Sithembiso Nyoni, and Amos Midzi to office when they had failed to win seats — contrary to his assurances that electoral failures would not be accommodated.


But in Zimbabwe we assume that Zanu PF will make promises it has no intention of keeping and we therefore let them off the hook. We even had Patrick Chinamasa stand up in parliament last week and tell the House there was no end in sight to our fuel woes until sanctions are lifted.


“Until political isolation is terminated we will continue to face these challenges,” he said, using the buzzword “challenges” for crises.


Would Jonathan Moyo have ever permitted this collective clueless-ness by ministers?


What Muckraker wants to know is why Mugabe keeps telling the state media how grateful he is that everybody is backing Zimbabwe and not listening to the UK, US or EU, when there is nothing to show for the support he is supposedly getting. Why doesn’t Libya translate its supposed support into fuel? Where are the Iranians whose new president was so warmly backed by Harare? What has happened to Malaysia’s Petronas? Where are Venezuela’s oil tankers?


None of them are headed this way!


Then there is the non-existent investment inflows. What happened to that great South-South deal with YTL over Hwange? A whole Zesa board was fired for saying it wasn’t in the national interest. But the president ploughed ahead. Where are the Indonesian millions after one of their nationals found his ostrich farms expropriated?


Now the Chinese will save us. Let’s wait and see. Looking East when the East is looking West is proving problematic!


There was a funny little article by Munyaradzi Huni in the Sunday Mail last weekend quoting Gideon Gono as saying he had never applied for a New Zealand visa. This was in response to reports from Wellington that he would be denied a visa to visit the land of the long white cloud where a Homelink team had been expected.


It was all “Internet fiction”, Gono scoffed.


So Muckraker decided to seek clarification from the New Zealand government. And the response was as follows: “The Prime Minister said in a press interview after last Monday’s Cabinet meeting (July 4) that a Reserve Bank team headed by Gono would not be welcome in New Zealand. Applications from lower level officials (eg a RBZ team minus Gono) will continue to be considered on a case-by-case basis.”


Clear enough Munyaradzi?


Then there was the piece by the Herald’s political editor claiming that an AP story about Vladimir Putin emanated from Andrew Lloyd, Southern African division desk officer at the FCO. The Herald branded Lloyd a “spy” but then revealed that its political masters had been spying on him.


We had “diplomatic sources” telling us that “a government official” had confronted Lloyd with the claim that he was the source of the AP report on Putin denouncing Mugabe. It had been traced to his computer, we were led to believe.


Lloyd was reported as begging for mercy in what looked suspiciously like Herald -speak.


Would a desk officer at the FCO in all seriousness ask: “How did you get hold of secrets to my prime minister” and then “plead” with the official not to make his findings public?


It was always a standing joke in our newsroom that whenever the Sunday Mail quoted some MDC official as denouncing his own party, the official would always sound like a Sunday Mail reporter. Now we have the same thing with the Herald. The conversation with Lloyd, we can be sure, was pure fiction.


And why does the political editor pretend that he got the story from a “diplomatic source” when it was handed to him by the same government official cited in the story?


Meanwhile, the state media has been blaming the MDC for “jamming” the courts with electoral petitions, thus frustrating the electoral process by causing delays in the hearing of cases.


So it’s the MDC that has been causing delays in the hearing of electoral cases is it? And what about the cases stemming from 2000 and 2002? What were the obstacles there?


We hear that Jonathan Moyo is now moving around with a UZ rent-a-crowd. They were very evident at the Ambassador Hotel meeting last Thursday where they cheered Johno’s every word and barracked John Makumbe when he spoke. But that didn’t stop Makumbe from piercing Moyo’s armour with a well-aimed shot.


“If he was offered a job by Mugabe tomorrow he would take it,” Makumbe blasted. “And he would be twice as vicious as before.”


Moyo appeared somewhat deflated after that!


Presidential spokesman George Charamba appears to believe there is some prospect of Zimbabwe rejoining the Commonwealth following talks in Sirte between President Mugabe and Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo. He was quoted in the Herald as saying Zimbabwe did not want to return to the group of former British colonies because of the “very bad and unfair experience” Zimbabwe had in 2003.


It will be recalled that Mugabe desperately tried to attend the Abuja Chogm but was barred by Obasanjo on the grounds that the country’s suspension was still in force. Then, once President Mbeki had failed to end Zimbabwe’s suspension, Mugabe withdrew in a huff.


Charamba needs to be told that there is no prospect of Zimbabwe being invited to rejoin, whatever Obasanjo might suggest. Zimbabwe does not meet the basic conditions of the Harare Declaration of 1991 which is why it was suspended in the first place. Why is it “unfair” to require a member to adhere to the conditions it has signed up to?


What Muckraker doesn’t understand is why, if this is an “effete club” and of “no material value”, as Charamba says, did Mugabe do everything within his power to remain a member? As for leaving the Commonwealth “for good”, that will be up to a future government to decide, not Charamba.


Finally, if the Herald decides to reprint articles from the Mail & Guardian, it might be a good idea to include the last word.


John Vidal wrote approvingly of Operation Murambatsvina: “Last year 250 homeless Zimbabweans, members of the Federation of Slum and Shack Dwellers, negotiated the provision of land from the city authority.


“They have now planned the layout of their community, worked out the cost of the homes and are ready to build. Where are they? Harare.”


In the Herald version the word “Harare” is missing, so the story ends: “Where are they?”


What is the significance of this omission?


Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono had no kind words for operators in the tourism sector. He accused them of keeping foreign currency in their “drawers” instead of surrendering it to him.


But that was not all. They were also accused of “wasting the Victoria Falls. That’s criminal and that’s vandalism and we cannot afford to do that at this time,” Gono warned.


He was angry that the Victoria Falls was being “marketed as if it belongs to other countries” while the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority was “sleeping behind the steering wheel”.


What Gono probably doesn’t know is that Zimbabwe has become a hard sell regardless of however one tries to package it. Operation Murambatsvina is not the best advertisement to lure tourists. In case he wasn’t aware, even South African Airways has cut the number of flights to Victoria Falls in favour of Livingstone just across the Zambezi River in Zambia. That just goes to show how bad things are for any business in this country.


Is it Zupco or China promoting the zhing zhong buses? This week the Sunday Mail ran a story ostensibly to debunk claims that buses purchased from China are of poor quality and generally unreliable. The paper sponsored its reporters to ride on the buses to different destinations around the city.


The crew was impressed. “The buses are of international standard and quality and the seats are comfortable much as they are economical wise,” enthused one of the crew members.


We are curious to know what is meant by “international standard and quality”. What other imported buses did they ride on we wonder?


Commenting on claims that the sumps for the buses were too low and so the buses had problems going over speed humps, the writer took a few pot shots at our road engineers.


“It seemed evident,” he wrote, “that what was needed was a road network to fit the buses not the other way round.” He said the roads in high density suburbs “are not fit for this century and age. Our road engineers are so overzealous that even some small private cars have the same problems” going over the speed humps.


Free advice for city planners. They must redesign our roads to suit Chinese buses, not the other way round.


We were interested to read Caesar Zvayi’s interview with Energy minister Mike Nyambuya in which the ex-soldier declared he wasn’t “appointed to resign”. What has been remarkable about the minister since his appointment is his capacity for enigmatic silence. In the early days of the fuel crisis we assumed that as a military man, President Mugabe wanted someone who could deliver, and less of a motormouth. We were wrong. He doesn’t talk and he doesn’t deliver. Nobody appears to know what is being done to alleviate the deepening crisis.


But surely what is the point of being a minister if not to serve the nation? Nyambuya is doing nothing of the sort, yet he wants to cling on to his sinecure. His reason is that there are shortages of bread and other commodities and yet the ministers responsible are not being asked to resign.


Meanwhile, what has become of Gono’s pledge that the fuel crisis would “soon be a thing of the past”? What economic turnaround can we expect when thousands of workers spend so many man-hours in fuel queues or at bus terminuses every morning trying to get to work?


At least Enos Chikowore was man enough to admit failure and quit.


Muckraker this week stumbled upon a magazine calling itself Zimbabwe Travel. It’s a curious title considering how travelling has become such a tricky undertaking which involves lots of planning. But that is beside the point.


In the magazine was an article on the death by hanging of those valiant revolutionaries, Mbuya Nehanda and Sekuru Kaguvi. The two were sentenced to hang on April 27 1898 in Salisbury.


As they were being dragged to be hanged on the Musasa tree along Tongogara Avenue, writes Diana Ganya, “eyewitnesses say the two broke into revolutionary songs and dance, furiously kicking and punching despite being in leg-irons and handcuffs”.


Dear reader, you have to choose what to believe. Either you take it as the stuff of myths and legends or that the prison guards in colonial times were not as vicious as they are today. In free Zimbabwe once you are in leg-irons they make sure you cannot lift your leg, let alone execute a “furious” kick or punch. We hope they are not teaching our children these fables. It would also be interesting to know what century the “eyewitnesses” belong to.


From myth to reality, we hear Zvayi this week nearly broke a female colleague’s neck with a Mike Tyson kind of blow. Never mind the cause of the fracas, we are told Zvayi did not take kindly to being reminded that he was only a teacher laying claim to journalism, and he did what he would predictably have done with a student challenging his authority in the classroom.


We hear the attack was so vicious it shocked most female colleagues who had gotten inured to shock by the excesses of Murambatsvina. They allegedly wanted to cover his head with their petticoats and only the timely intervention of PD appears to have saved Zvayi the ultimate humiliation.


PD has promised a commission of inquiry and disciplinary action to avoid the issue turning into a gender bashing scandal.


It’s never a good idea to fight colleagues at work. It’s worse when that workmate is a woman. Were the police informed of this brutal assault on a hapless woman by a bullying pugilist who confuses the newsroom for a boxing ring and takes women for punch-bags? Let the law take its course.