Muckraker

A dead-loss journalist and a barmy bishop

THE Herald had a rather misleading heading last week. “ZUJ drafts new code of conduct,” we were told. There then followed a story in which Information minister Tichaona Jokonya and ZUJ president Matthew Taka

ona competed to see who could make the most offensive remarks about the media.


There was a “crisis” in the media, Jokonya declared. What he meant was there were some elements in the media, such as Internet publications, that could not be controlled. The prospect of journalists who could not be regulated by the Stalinists at the Information ministry was evidently too ghastly for the minister to contemplate.


Then there were all those “unpatriotic” journalists out there.


“There are some journalists who enjoy demonising and undermining the country,” Jokonya continued, “and when they write the stories they do so with passion.”


So passion’s out then? So is naivety, it would seem.


“Some are so naïve about our country,” Jokonya pronounced, “that they do not know what type of stories to give prominence.”


It must be obvious that any stories declaring the MDC to be tools of the British must qualify for prominence. The state media writes about nothing else. And when short of these stories, it allows itself to be duped by officials hawking British spy stories that are then reproduced word for word no matter how ludicrous they appear.


Now that’s what we call naïve!


Instead of pointing this out, Takaona joined in the attack. He said the code of conduct came after “the realisation that many newsmen had gone out of their way to write falsehoods without verifying the facts”.


“Many” Matthew? How many have been successfully prosecuted?


He cited poor remuneration as one of the reasons why journalists accepted bribes.


“We work very hard but we get peanuts at the end of the day and this has contributed to some of the reasons why journalists accept bribes,” Takaona confessed, hopefully not speaking for everybody else!


Instead of defending his colleagues against facile accusations by the minister who needs to be challenged on his definition of what is patriotic, the leader of ZUJ has nothing to say for himself except that journalists are a corrupt lot.


Matthew: you are a dead loss and if you carry on like this we are going to have to revive the ashtray story.


Let’s put the record straight. Contrary to the Herald’s spin, ZUJ did not draft the code of conduct. It was drafted by Misa with the help of others in the media fraternity. It is a simple statement of best practice. The other stakeholders gave their nod to the code months ago. After much heel-dragging ZUJ was the last organisation to come on board.


Misa felt the code should be presented to the minister by a media representative who was not deemed to be unfriendly to the state. Despite Matthew’s appalling treatment by the Moyo regime, he qualified. What Misa wasn’t to know was the minister would wipe the floor with him in front of the TV cameras. And Matthew would be happy to be the mop. It would also appear from Tuesday’s Herald that he was part of the “unanimous” decision by the MIC to refuse ANZ a licence. What sort of society is it where journalists join the state in oppressing their colleagues?


Can we please have in future discussions with ministers media representatives who are prepared to stand up for their profession and repudiate in robust language the pretensions of ministers who are not themselves bound by any code of conduct!


Then we had Tafataona Mahoso spitting on Jokonya’s parade, declaring ZUJ and Misa to be “a confused lot”.


“Zimbabwe rejects the global media apartheid models of the North Atlantic states,” he declared in his usual presumptuous way, as if he speaks for Zimbabwe.


It must have been obvious why Mahoso was keen to rubbish the new initiative: if it succeeds he will be out of a job. But he could have been a little more subtle in his bid for self-preservation!


Meanwhile, could somebody explain why Chengetai Zvauya was refused accreditation by the MIC because of a criminal conviction when he had appealed to the High Court against that conviction and was subsequently acquitted? Don’t we recall Zanu PF MPs whose election had been overturned by the High Court because of irregularities continuing to retain their seats all the way up to March this year on the grounds they were appealing?


Before we leave the topic of journalists, how about this for absolute gullibility and lack of professionalism?


Relating the visit by the South African Council of Churches team headed by the widely-respected Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane last week, we were told the following: “The Herald can reveal that the clergymen are known supporters of the MDC.”


That’s as good as it gets folks! Revelations, Chapter 1.


It is one thing for captive journalists to repeat what they are told by government officials. It is another to hear captive bishops regurgitating word for word the same forced diet.


We had Harare Anglican Archbishop Nobert Kunonga slamming the South African bishops as “a willing horse for the British government”.


We suppose he meant a Trojan horse. But it was all Greek to us.


The SACC visit was “unprocedural”, Kunonga declared without realising that word had now become totally discredited.


“The abortive visit by the South African clergymen under the guise of assessing Operation Murambatsvina is, in fact, part of the British attempts to destabilise the country by painting a false picture of the developments here for the international world,” he claimed.


Most of the world is international, we would have thought. And “facts” surely have nothing to do with it.


Clearly the archbishop is out of his depth. It would seem he has been got at. But does it serve the government’s cause to have one so obviously compromised speaking on its behalf in such a naïve and silly way? Somebody who doesn’t appear to have a mind of his own?


And what of all those Anglicans out there who are identified with such suborned leadership? Will they remain silent?


“The church in Zimbabwe, including myself, has lost all respect for Archbishop Ndungane,” Kunonga proclaimed.


Right idea, wrong archbishop.


Caesar the Butcher has been doing some serious research of late on condoms. The results have been startling.


Caesar questioned why the United States was donating condoms to Zimbabwe despite passage of the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act. He asks the question while acknowledging that Aids and HIV were declared a national disaster as long back as 1999 with the disease killing over 3 000 people a week. He asks despite knowing that government does not have the resources to import condoms from China or any place under the sun so long as there is a foreign currency component.


Caesar’s inane conclusion is that the US could be trying to spread Aids to exterminate so-called people of colour. But the obvious solution would be to manufacture safer condoms for the nation, if that is possible. Zimbabwe is a sovereign country and therefore is under no obligation to accept condoms from the United States.


They tried it with the so-called genetically-modified maize, but made an embarrassing volte face when the implications became clear — mass starvation. We are out with an even bigger begging bowl again this year after claiming we had more than enough to feed ourselves last year. Nothing could be more disgraceful.


Caesar the Butcher may want to appear industrious, but his weird theory is cause for more anxiety than comfort to a nation already ravaged by despondency. We wonder what the aim is; maybe that sovereign Zimbabweans doesn’t need imperialist condoms after all? A classic case of looking a gift horse in the mouth.


Meanwhile, in regard to the syphilis experiment by the US government exposed by Jean Heller in 1972, when can we expect a similarly courageous exposé from Caesar about our government’s criminal dereliction of duty — from food shortages to the inhuman conditions at Caledonia Farm? We have had enough of Abu Ghraib, Afghanistan and Guantanamo conspiracies. What about Highlands, Matapi and beyond?


We should also be grateful to Caesar for giving us former US President Bill Clinton’s response to Heller’s revelations. Clinton remarked in his apology to those affected by the experiments: “The United States government did something that was wrong, deeply, profoundly, morally wrong.”


When can Zimbabweans expect a similar apology from their president for the Gukurahundi massacres in which over 20 000 people were killed, the orgy of violence since 2000, the destruction of commercial agriculture and the hunger that followed, the transport crisis since 1999 and now the wanton destruction of homes and informal businesses in the name of Operation Murambatsvina? Let’s have some integrity and honesty here Caesar.


Come Wednesday and the Herald on its front page carried a picture of Grace Mugabe’s fugitive brother Reward Marufu looking hail and hearty in Bindura in the heart of Mashonaland Central. The caption told us Marufu is the proud owner of Leopard Vlei Farm. No questions asked.


In case you have forgotten dear reader, this is the same fellow who robbed the War Victims Compensation Fund of over $800 000 on the pretext that he was 95% disabled and suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. When it was later discovered that the claim was fraudulent, Marufu vanished into an igloo near Hudson’s Bay in Canada’s snowy wastes. Government pretended he couldn’t be located for the law to take its course. The last we heard of him he was in dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam’s country.


So there he was on Wednesday with Air Marshal Perence Shiri of Gukurahundi infamy and
Pakistani Air Chief Marshal Kaleem Saadat.


Does government still claim Marufu’s whereabouts are unknown? And what happened to those charges that were pending? No wonder government columnists refer to the rule of law as “hogwash”!


How curious it is that Zimbabwe and the United States have a mutual friend in Pakistan!


It’s great to hear the president is not the monster he is often portrayed as in the Western media. He likes a joke from time to time, we hear. It’s just a pity that it has to be an old joke.


You all remember the one about Pius Ncube praying: “O God Almighty, take this enemy of mine,” only instead of saying “Bob”, he mistakenly said “Pope”?


It’s not the most tasteful joke for a “devout Catholic” to tell, but we appreciate the president recycling it at the Victoria Falls, not to mention the brave soul who SMS’d it across to the presidential mobile. We gather he is now awaiting a new posting in Mt Darwin.


By the way, in the standard version it was God who misheard it, not Pius who misstated it. And we did like the way the president pulled rank on the archbishop: “Get out of my way Pius, I want to pray to God.”


Muckraker agrees with the president (history in the making here!) that Pius does at times look as if he is a man possessed. He hates Mugabe so much he can barely contain himself in TV interviews. He needs to discipline that anger and channel it in a way the late Cardinal Jaime Sin would have done. That way he would strike a national chord and add depth to a cause that is crying out for leadership.


Isn’t it about time the President’s Office improved the quality of the intelligence reaching it?


On Saturday we had Nathaniel Manheru referring to a meeting at the Zimbabwe Independent and Standard where editors were supposedly told by chairman Trevor Ncube to give space to the so-called third force. A picture of Ncube used to illustrate an article by Jonathan Moyo last week was adduced as further evidence of a partnership.


This is all very well. Except for one important detail. Neither Moyo nor the third force were mentioned at the meeting in question. As there were about 10 people present the truth wouldn’t have been too difficult to establish.


Let’s hope the country’s destiny is not guided by such inept intelligence gatherers!


Muckraker was intrigued to see a little story in the Sunday Mirror saying that the “Reverend” Obadiah Msindo had threatened to take legal action against the Independent for alleging he had swindled clients of a housing cooperative and diverted the funds to Zanu PF’s election campaign. Msindo denies illegally selling stands or diverting funds.


And how did this story find its way into the Mirror? We have no idea.


The lawyers for Msindo are Muzangaza, Mandaza and Tomana.