Every patriotic Zimbabwean disappointed

THE Herald&#

8217;s Beatrice Tonhodzayi seems to be “mixed” up about the just-ended Miss Malaika event. The audience was not satisfied about the winner, Yolanda Hall, and kept shouting that they wanted Number 14, Tonhodzayi told us in her weekend column, “Mixed Bag”. But the judges prevailed and Tonhodzayi says “it is the hope of every patriotic Zimbabwean that she will lift the country’s flag high in South Africa”.

We are immediately told the contestants revealed “an amazing lack of intelligence and depth that was shocking to say the least.

“It was like most of them were just trying out their luck and were not serious about the pageant. They were immature and showed a disturbing lack of confidence,” says Tonhodzayi without any sense of irony.

So what has “patriotism” got todo with this evident failure by the contestants? If Zimbabweans themselves are not happy with their product, including Tonhodzayi herself, what chance does Hall have with foreign judges in South Africa?

She accuses the contestants of failing to “talk about important issues” like how they will “correct the bad image” that Zimbabwe has in the international community and how they will promote the continent.

Surely you cannot export damaged goods and hope that your patriotic zeal alone will make them saleable. Tonhodzayi should be telling us how the pageants can “correct the bad image” that she has of them. Then she can correct the image of the country, whatever that means.

On the pageants failing to talk about important issues, Muckraker thinks Tonhodzayi should spare the kids the rod. Has she ever heard the country’s leadership “talking” about the important issues affecting the country? Even during elections?

A classic example was last week when Zanu PF’s politburo held its ordinary session at Shake Shake building and people expected to hear what President Mugabe was going to do to those who ignored his ultimatum to surrender some of their stolen farms. People expected to hear what the party was doing about the country’s multifaceted crisis, from fuel to food to cash shortages. Every patriotic Zimbabwean was disappointed.

Information chief Nathan Shamuyarira said they had discussed how Zanu PF had “lost in the recent council elections” to the MDC and how this could be reversed. That kind of self-deception should alert patriotic Beatrice Tonhodzayi as to the real source of the country’s problems — lack of seriousness and a huge dose of delusional thinking.

On Friday, September 5, the Herald carried a front-page statement by the Department of Information in the Office of the President saying Vice-President Simon Muzenda was “on the way to recovery”.

This followed press reports in South Africa, and carried in our own media, that he was in a critical condition.

These reports were “mischievous”, the Office of the President said.

The Herald story was headed “VP Muzenda on way to recovery”.

The following Friday, September 12, our editor wrote in his weekly Editor’s Memo that while reports about President Mugabe’s health may be wide of the mark, “Muzenda’s health does give cause for concern”.

The editor went on to document cases in which the condition of leaders elsewhere had been disguised by officials so as to ensure stability and continuity at the top.

Mugabe on Saturday said in his tribute to Muzenda broadcast by ZBC that “soon after his return from China it was quite clear that the odds against his recovery were growing insurmountable by the day”.

So why did officials in Mugabe’s office put out the statement on September 5 saying that Muzenda was “on the way to recovery” when his condition, as the president concedes, was deteriorating?

Here we have a clear example of official dissembling of the sort attempted when Laurent Kabila was assassinated. Why can’t Mugabe’s officials tell the public the truth about the health of their leaders?  It is possible to be honest about these things without being insensitive. But there is no excuse for calculated deception.

Why did the Herald mislead its readers by publishing the Office of the President’s remarks about “mischievous” press reports without first satisfying itself that the statement was accurate? Or did it, as we suspect, just publish what it was told to?

Is this what we can expect from a one-party daily press?

If any proof were needed of official attempts to hoodwink the public, we need look no further than recent remarks made by Francis Nhema assuring South Africans of a plentiful supply of petrol.

“At last I can stand here and say,” he told South African motorists, “we do have petrol. You will be assured. You drive up to Zimbabwe and (we) will refill your tank.”

Now you will understand how our ministers are able to launch tourism campaigns in South Africa while their supporters are decimating wildlife in conservancies and national parks.

Another delusional minister is John Nkomo who gave the Financial Gazette this account of how the 1987 unity accord between Zanu and Zapu came about.

“Coming back home, we had our teething problems…It quickly became necessary for the two parties to converge and remind each other of the liberation movement. We had to convince ourselves that we were one.”

And what were these teething problems? A campaign of ethnic cleansing in Matabeleland and the Midlands that saw 30 000 people killed. An army brigade with a licence to abduct, torture and murder. A whole generation scarred and those responsible granted immunity from prosecution.

And how “quickly” did the two parties converge and “remind each other of the liberation movement”? Seven years it took them! From then on they “reminded each other of the liberation movement” by agreeing not to talk about genocide in public or even address the needs of those traumatised.

Thanks for that reminder John. And just for the record, the Pearce Commission (not “Pierce”) was 1972, not 1970. It is unlike you to get that sort of thing wrong!

Which brings us to the Sunday Mirror’s Scrutator who wrote a very funny column last week pretending the European Union had undergone some Damascene conversion over Zimbabwe. Borrowing the final paragraph of a strong EU statement spelling out its position on sanctions, Scrutator managed to detect a “thaw” in relations.

But at the same time he attacked the EU for claiming sanctions were not aimed at causing hardship for ordinary Zimbabweans. Pursuing the Zanu PF line that sanctions were designed to procure regime change in Zimbabwe, Scrutator said “only a fool would fail to recognise the overt political and economic objectives of any form of sanctions”.

“Only” if you’re seriously para-noid. Has it not occurred to Scrutator that the EU might have difficulty justifying to its taxpayers assistance to a violent, corrupt and lawless regime? How could the EU excuse giving aid to Zimbabwe when government resources were being diverted to the National Youth Training scheme and the Borrowdale Brooke mansion?

It was wrong of the EU to ascribe Zimbabwe’s crisis to inappropriate economic policies and the manner in which the land reform has been carried out, Scrutator complained. So who is to blame?

“The fundamental causes of the current Zimbabwean political and economic crisis are to be found in the legacy of European colonialism…”

How silly of us not to have guessed!

The Herald’s Nathaniel Manheru seems unhappy with Muckraker’s criticisms of the Herald and Sunday Mail. Speaking as their proprietor, he says he will not dignify our remarks by responding to them, “save to say (Muckraker) is one of the top readers” of the two papers.

It is kind of Manheru to say so. But that should probably have read “only” instead of “top”. You know what the Herald is like with typos!

“We shall not bore readers (now there’s a change!) by critically examining his monotonous bashing of the Herald and Sunday Mail,” Manheru continues despite his promise. “We know where this is coming from. It smacks of gay-gangster tactics.”

Ouch! No, please guys. Lay off. Can’t take it any more. Promise not to say another thing. Wonderful papers. Just love them. Very professional etc…

But seriously folks, is this the best they can do?

Evidently not. The Herald’s Caesar Zvayi, whose journalism represents the scraping of the very bottom of the government’s empty barrel, asked this week if John Howard was possibly “Ms Howard since one never knows with Peter Tatchell’s friends”. 

Zvayi is lucky we don’t enquire too closely about Allum Mpofu’s friends. What government columnists like Zvayi cannot bring themselves to admit is that it was not Australia’s leader who banned Mugabe from Chogm but his good friend and ally Olusegun Obasanjo. None of the government’s apologists have actually got around to explaining that!

Poor old Joseph Made. There he was for three years dutifully parroting whatever Jonathan Moyo told him to say and what does he get for it: probably the chop.

President Mugabe is not known for moving swiftly to axe non-performing ministers. Some are allowed to stay on for years. Ask Enos Chikowore.

But the politburo is demanding that heads roll. There must be a scapegoat for the mess in the A1 and A2 sectors. And it looks like poor old Made is the sacrificial goat. This will all be done under the rubric of “streamlining” ministerial “overlaps”. There will be “redeployments” you understand. Whatever you call it, Made must go.

What about moving him to the Ministry of Transport. He likes flying around looking out the window. Then again a job at the Central Statistical Office would enable him to make use of his dexterity with figures.

The government, by the way, despite revelations made in the Utete Report, is still telling Munyaradzi Huni that 300 000 families have been resettled. They gave the same figure to the gullible Caesar Zvayi this week. Both “journalists” regurgitated them without question. But then again, if Zvayi believes blacks are barred from  the streets of Perth and Hobart after 10pm, he will believe anything!

Muckraker has been trying to think of something tasteful to say about the late Simon Muzenda. So we won’t mention the baboons that stood as ruling-party candidates in Masvingo, even though all the obituaries published abroad made reference to them. Or that shooting episode in Gweru.

A fitting tribute we think would be an exhibition at State House of his collection of sweaters, jerseys and cardigans without which he would never have seemed quite complete.

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