None so blind as those who will not see

GOOD news readers. Zimbabwe is not isolated as the Western media claim.

President Mugabe was able to mix freely with seven other presidents at the recent Comesa summ

it in Djibouti, the Herald told us. This just goes to prove that the propaganda machinery of Western countries has been lying about our predicament.

You may not have heard of Comesa, a half-baked customs arrangement, or Djibouti, a barely existent state, but in 2003 it passed a resolution calling for the removal of “illegal” sanctions. It also called for Zimbabwe’s suspension from the Commonwealth to be lifted in line with calls from Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Thabo Mbeki.

It is a sign of how desperate the government has become that it can dig up a 2003 resolution of a dysfunctional east African body and proclaim it to be evidence of normality three years later!

President Obasanjo is cited as supporting the lifting of Zimbabwe’s suspension from the Commonwealth. But the state media has reminded us at every opportunity that the Nigerian leader quickly shifted his stance.

This followed his realisation that he had been misled when he was prevailed upon to send a letter to the Australian prime minister John Howard claiming that the authorities in Harare were addressing shortcomings in governance and human rights.

When Mbeki attempted to raise the issue of lifting Zimbabwe’s suspension at the Abuja Chogm, he soon found himself isolated.

So that leaves Comesa as cold comfort for the regime’s propagandists. Comesa was praised for sending observers to witness Zimbabwe’s elections when some of the Western nations that have endorsed sanctions “have never sent observers to Zimbabwe”.

The propagandists who are fed this junk assume Zimbabweans have short memories. The EU adopted sanctions against Zimbabwe’s leadership when the head of their electoral monitoring team, Pierre Schori, was prevented from observing the 2002 presidential poll. As for Comesa’s Electoral Observation Policy, we can be sure it involves a very tight blindfold!

But is this the best they can do? A 2003 resolution from Comesa in which two leaders cited as Zimbabwe’s key supporters are today no longer quite so enthusiastic. There must be better news than this.

Somebody trying to work up some good news is Emcoz senior vice-president David Govere. Speaking at the Emcoz convention, he forecast that despite a bumpy start, “We are heading towards the inevitable recovery of the economy in the second half of 2007.”

He saw a “thawing of bad political relations”, reduced dependence on food imports, a reduced wheat shortfall, and “unwavering determination by stakeholders” to rectify macro-economic fundamentals. This would all lead to a fast-growing economy by 2010, he predicted.

We rather thought that Pollyanna, Mark Twain’s little girl who was enchanted by everything she encountered, lived only on the pages of the Business Herald. But, it seems, her rose-tinted spectacles are also worn by some of our business leaders.

Does Govere seriously think that inflation will come down when there is no plan to tackle it and wasteful expenditure persists at every level?

Does he really think that with plummeting output on the land, where politically induced instability continues, stoked by ruling-party bigwigs, the economy will recover?

Does he think investors will sink their hard-earned cash in a country where the rule of law has been suborned?

He admits that the first half of next year will be “fraught with major challenges”, a euphemism for failure. And he does concede that the last seven years have been “seven lean years”. But there the reality ends and fantasy takes over.

“We are beginning to speak about the real issues on the National Economic Development Priority Programme,” Govere suggests.

So perhaps he can tell us what happened to the six-month miracle cure we were promised when the programme was launched? What happened to the US$2,5 billion investment that was expected? Which parastatals have been sold?

We expect political leaders to throw dust in our eyes as they seek to excuse their record of misrule. But naive forecasts of this sort designed to please those who should be confronted with the hard truth do nothing for the credibility of our business leaders.

Perhaps Govere shares with President Mugabe a secret formula. Speaking in July, Mugabe told the country that forex inflows were beginning to be felt.

“I won’t say much now,” he said, “but between now and December a lot is going to happen.”

He was right: inflation has gone up, employment has come down and the forex flows never materialised.

The Herald carried an interesting snippet last week.

In its “50 Years Ago” column it reported the following for November 1956: “During the past 10 years
1 677 dams have been built either by the Division of Irrigation or under its guidance. Including the virtually complete Sebakwe Dam, these give a total storage of 124 billion gallons. Under construction is the Gwenoro Dam south of Gwelo which should be finished in 1958 and will hold 7 million gallons.”

The Kyle Dam was on the drawing board, it was reported. It was completed a few years later.

Meanwhile, the Kunzvi Dam still awaits construction 26 years after Independence. Isn’t this the government that said it would bring development to correct the anomalies of the past?

On Tuesday this week the same column had a more sobering tale of the state we are in today. Speaking in Shabani, the prime minister of Southern Rhodesia RS Garfield Todd said one-third of the African population should be farmers and two-thirds employed in industry and commerce.

“We stand at the beginning of our industrial era,” Todd observed, “but already we have 78 000 Europeans and 604 000 Africans in regular employment.”

We wonder what ratio of the population Zimbabwe still has in formal employment today. We have now entered the era of de-industralisation spawned by the Third Chimurenga.

President Mugabe last week lashed out at politicians who tell lies to ingratiate themselves with the Zanu PF leadership, the Herald reported on Saturday. At first we thought this referred to Industry and International Trade minister Obert Mpofu and the looting at Zisco.

We were wrong. Mugabe told mourners at the burial of his homeboy, Tony Gara, in Zvimba that a number of candidates who wanted to be elected to the senate last year “told a lot of lies” that Gara was part of the Tsholotsho gang that was opposed to Joice Mujuru’s elevation to the presidency.

He blamed individuals in his party for trying to blemish Gara’s good name by linking him to the Tsholotsho affair in 2004 that cost several provincial chairmen their posts in the party.

We wonder why this piece of information waited for two years before being made public. It is also one of several wild allegations that Mugabe makes when he has nothing better to say, like his now familiar claims against his ministers that they consult witchdoctors in a bid to succeed him. Why doesn’t he name and shame them if there is an iota of truth to these allegations?

In another note, the Herald reported that Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings chairman Justin Mutasa had “dismissed as false” claims that Chris Chivinge had been fired as Newsnet editor-in-chief.

He said Chivinge had not been fired “because he is serving his notice on his contract of employment which ends on Thursday, November 30”.

This however did not stop him from warning that ZBH would not “condone irresponsible behaviour that displays insubordination and indiscipline”.

This was one of the problems that needed to be “eliminated” at ZBH, he said.

Mutasa did not say if Chivinge had resigned of his own volition. Nor whether he was being made an example of to the rest of the employees.

It’s all as clear as mud.

Zimbabwe, Iran think alike says President Mugabe,” one news agency reported this week.

Indeed they do. Both like to portray themselves as victims of Anglo-American imperialist aggression. Both have rulers who like to posture on the world stage; and both ruthlessly suppress dissent.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is regarded as a dangerous populist demagogue by Iran’s civil society and the country’s student movement has been battling with the regime over freedom of expression and association.

But, we wonder, does President Mugabe agree with Ahmadinejad that Israel should be wiped off the face of the map?

We liked the concluding paragraph of the Herald’s report saying that Mugabe would be visiting a tractor factory in Tabriz before leaving Iran.

The Herald is probably unaware that in the pre-1989 era a visit to a tractor factory was mandatory for any leader visiting an East bloc country. It quickly became something of a joke in the Western media as did fictional reports of record output from such factories. Needless to say, the tractors were not of a particularly high standard!

While Mugabe was visiting Iran, his Transport minister, Chris Mushohwe MA, was assuring a gullible Comesa delegation, touring the Whitecliff housing project, that Zimbabwe was successfully countering the “bad image” that the British, Americans and Australians were trying to portray. They were trying to portray Zimbabwe “as a country where there is lawlessness and chaos”, he suggested.

Over 700 000 people were rendered homeless by Operation Murambatsvina. Most today have still not been rehoused.

There was support from the Namibians who clearly thought dispossession of urban residents was a good thing. But was the Comesa delegation given access to civil society or UN personnel concerned with resettlement issues? And were they told that many of the recipients of Garikai houses were well-connected ruling-party supporters?

No doubt that would have impressed them even more!

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