Only man afraid of Bush is Mugabe

WHO’s afraid

of the Big Bad Bush? Robert Mugabe it seems.

How else do we explain his repeated references to the US president’s visit to our region this week?

Would a leader confident of his position feel the need to keep reassuring his followers that he had nothing to fear from the visit? After all, Zimbabwe had no oil, Mugabe reminded us — as if we needed any reminding!

There is of course always the jerrycan he brought back from Libya. What happened to that?

Mugabe appears to think he has some control over Bush’s itinerary.

“If Mr Bush is coming to seek cooperation then he is welcome,” he told villagers in Masvingo, “but if he is coming to dictate what we should do, then we will say: ‘Go back home Yankee’.”

But Bush has been telling Mugabe what to do: Hold free and fair elections. And he only went home when he was ready.

The days when Mugabe gave other leaders their marching orders have long since passed. The only people who listen to him now are gullible rural folk. Who — apart from Sunday Mail reporters — would swallow the fiction that “government was working towards ending the relentless price hikes and the prevailing acute shortage of both local bank notes and foreign currency to bring immediate relief to the public”?

Why is Mugabe suddenly able to do that when he hasn’t been able to all year?

But we are pleased to hear that he now accepts the need for sitting presidents to be brought before the International Court of Justice “to answer charges of genocide”.

Needless to say, he wasn’t referring to his own case in Matabeleland but those of President Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair in Iraq. But we are sure Mugabe wouldn’t want to be accused of gross double standards, so we are delighted that he now accepts the need for all such accused persons to stand trial.

The Sunday Mail’s political editor Munyaradzi Huni has again been fulfilling his murky mandate as a presidential apologist. In a vain attempt to justify Mugabe’s self-indulgent 1000% pay hike, he points out that salaries for chief executives have doubled with most getting between $3 million and $10 million a month.

What he doesn’t say is that these salaries are performance-related. Can we say the same for Mugabe?

How long would he survive as chairman of any self-respecting business board? Can you imagine any chief executive lasting at the helm after driving his company into the ground and pauperising its shareholders?

Huni has also been defending Zimbabwe’s participation in the Congo war. He appears piqued that President Bush congratulated Thabo Mbeki for his role in brokering a peace agreement in the DRC.

Doesn’t he know that Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia helped restore peace in the DRC, Huni spluttered indignantly?

Apparently not! And another thing getting Huni’s goat is the fact that President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal referred to Mugabe bending the electoral rules in March 2002.

“There were many deaths,” Wade said. “Electoral laws were changed days before the election. We can’t call that an election.”

“No one knows where President Wade was getting all this wrong information from,” Huni complained, pointing a finger of suspicion at Bush.

But what appears to have irked Huni most is the fact that Wade addressed Mugabe as “Mr Mugabe”. All other African leaders addressed him as “Cde Mugabe”, Huni haughtily told us.

Really? Who does? Every reference by Thabo Mbeki has been to “Mr Mugabe” according to our records. The same goes for other leaders, except perhaps the Namibians and Angolans.

Is Olusegun Obasanjo likely to refer to “Cde Mugabe”? Somehow we don’t think so. Nor Bakili Muluzi.

We feel sorry for the Editor of the Herald. There he was trying to brighten up his Saturday edition and along comes Nathaniel Manheru dumping a whole heap of garbage, called “The Other Side”, right in the middle of its editorial pages.

But not content with five columns of vitriolic diatribe, mostly directed at the US/UK and rival media houses, the editor has now been obliged to make room for another column on the same page, called “Out of the Haystack with the Chatterbox”, which looks suspiciously like the same person offloading stories that he was unable to squeeze into “The Other Side”. Letters to the Editor were sacrificed to make room for Cde Haystack.

Henry Olonga, Reuters’ Stella Mapenzauswa, the Daily News and Muckraker all came under fire last Saturday. And it looks as if there was more abuse lined up which couldn’t be fitted because a heading which said “What damnable nonsense” only advanced six lines before being cut off at the legs by an over-zealous sub-editor. We never did discover what the “damnable nonsense” was, apart of course from most of the column’s contents.

Can we expect a story this Saturday about a sub losing his head? And the funny story we are served up each week about Mrs “Kainsterner” being a Rhodie. Could there be some confusion here with Mrs (Chester) Crocker? Given its obsession with Walter “Kainsterner” and “house nigger” Colin Powell, Muckraker’s heading for Manheru’s next column would be “Uncle Tom’s Other Cabin”.

As for Manheru’s violent hostility to a transitional government, one can only understand this in the context of the diehards around Mugabe who are becoming as nervous as hell about their future prospects.

“Transitional governments always follow coups,” we are told. Those who are calling for such a government seek the unconstitutional removal of President Mugabe.

Do they? What is to stop parliament approving such a government? And why is Manheru obsessive about this prospect? The answer is obvious. His neck is on the block and every week he squeals like a pig!

Anyone for pork?

‘I’m ready for presidency,” Vice-President Joseph Msika is quoted as saying in last Saturday’s Herald. “If people choose me, I will have no option but to comply.”

The problem is, nobody has chosen him. He has not been popularly elected to his current post. And his prospects of election to anything are as dim as he is. Will voters want somebody who called them “wretched dogs” during the 2002 campaign? Is he as tolerant or non-racist as he claims to be? Welshman Mabhena might have a different view!

Whatever the case, can you imagine Zimbabwe led by Msika as president and Didymus Mutasa as vice-president? What joke is the Herald going to play on us this Saturday as it lines up more improbable contenders?

It is sad to see what the government’s propaganda department has been reduced to in the way of editorial writers. The Herald this week carried a leader-page article by Simon Atawenah who describes himself as “an African, a researcher, and analyst of African affairs based in Washington DC”. But he is evidently not much of a researcher or analyst. He attributes the “rider and horse” analogy to Sir Roy Welensky who is described as “a British colonial ruler”. And he evidently hasn’t been following the land reform story.

“Currently around 4 000…whites remain in Zimbabwe controlling 75% of the land,” he confidently asserts. “This is in contrast with nearly 20 million Zimbabweans who are left to scramble for survival on the remaining pieces of arid and less productive land”.

What is remarkable about all this is that nobody in the commissioning department came to his rescue. Rather like the “300 000” resettled farmers, perhaps fiction is preferable to fact! (Mugabe, by the way, still thinks there are 100 000 whites left in the country which shows how long he has been on another planet.)

But we did like the picture of the last tourist in Masvingo. Accompanying an article saying “heinous and rogue elements” had “badly tarnished” Zimbabwe’s image “through corrosive acid aimed at portraying the country as lawless”, the picture, taken over 60 years ago of an elderly bespectacled gentleman in a pith helmet and several layers of clothing, propped up by a walking stick, was a “flashback” to happier times when Masvingo used to attract this type of visitor!

At least the Herald has now stopped pretending there is a tourism revival. But it is pretending that the Warriors’ victory last Saturday had something to do with land reform. A Form II cartoon by Innocent Mpofu showed a fan jumping up and down shouting “after 23 years and foreign coaches, it’s something to do with a homeboy and land reform”.

We can safely assume Nigeria’s success under Westerhof in 1994, Senegal under a French coach last year, and Cameroon’s under a German coach were entirely fortuitous? Did those countries have land reform programmes to inspire them? Or were they simply professional teams?

We recall Zimbabwe failing to organise a major tournament in 2000 soon after land reform commenced. Clearly it didn’t inspire its team or administrators then. So long as management is the problem and politicians play offside, no amount of land reform will help our lads score.

Chinondidyachii Mararike, Zanu PF apologist and regular columnist for the state-owned press, found a bomb in his front garden in England last weekend, the Herald reported. Without quite saying so, the Herald implied that there were political motives behind the find, according to ZWNews.

“He is outspoken in his political views and makes clear his support for Zimbabwe’s land reform programme and of President Mugabe’s anti-imperialist stance,” said the Herald. “He has since written to the police demanding an assurance about his safety and that of his family. He also sought an explanation on how such a lethal weapon came to be in his garden.”

Mararike, who despite loud protestations of patriotism lives in Doncaster in South Yorkshire, said the bomb disposal team had told him that the bomb was big enough to destroy five houses — had it exploded. They were not forthcoming with details, he claimed, adding to the air of conspiracy.

“It’s not information we can give out to people we do not know,” the police were reported by the Herald as saying in a telephone interview. “We do not know you and we are not sure that you are actually a journalist.”

But a spokesperson for the South Yorkshire Constabulary told ZWNews a different story.

“We have no record of having received an enquiry from a reporter at the Herald,” the spokesman said, “and I do not believe anyone in our press office would speak to any member of the public in that manner. I can confirm that a bomb disposal team was called to an address in Crooks Road, Doncaster at 6:20 last Saturday. A cylinder, 35cm long and 10cm in diameter was removed from that address. The bomb disposal officers were unable to determine whether it was primed or not, so it was taken to open ground where it was destroyed in a controlled explosion.”

Mararike can now rest easier in his bed. There was no MI5 conspiracy. Only the German Luftwaffe a little off target 63 years ago.

A useful indication of the Herald’s grasp of current affairs could be found in its statement on Wednesday that “efforts to contact US embassy spokesperson Mr Bruce Wharton” over an MDC petition due to be handed in to the embassy were “futile”.

This is hardly surprising. Wharton left the country at the end of May to take up the post of deputy ambassador to Guatemala.

Hundreds attended his farewell party including many journalists. Didn’t anybody tell the Herald?

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