What an obliging (stupid) fellow!

WHAT exactly constitutes free and open discussion of a subject? Zanu PF says anything that is not “clandestine”.

Zanu PF secretary for the commissariat Elliot Manyika say

s that while President Mugabe has permitted debate on the succession issue, “we do not want any clandestine meetings”.

He was referring to the Tsholotsho episode in which six provincial party chairmen were suspended for holding a secret meeting.

This comes under the heading of giving a dog a bad name and then beating it. Are members of Zanu PF not permitted to come together at a school or hotel to discuss a candidate they can support, as they did in November 2004?

What is wrong with a private or confidential meeting at which senior party members plan the position they will adopt at congress? By calling it “clandestine” Manyika is giving a perfectly legitimate meeting a sinister label. What we are witnessing here is exactly the same form of manipulation we see in regard to Zanu PF’s treatment of the MDC.

The MDC is free to debate the nation’s future but it has to be “patriotic”, we are told. So one side’s childish and self-serving definition of patriotism becomes the template which others must adhere to.

At one stroke the ruling party determines the rules of engagement. It sets the terms of debate by the language it uses.

Mugabe promised his party a free debate on the succession issue. But then he decided that those meeting at a school or hotel were acting outside his remit, so he denounced and fired them.

In fact he fired them because they chose somebody other than his anointed candidate. And on the same day that the dissident chairmen were meeting, he had the politburo rule that the next vice-president should be a woman.

Armed with this resolution it became possible for party spokesmen like Manyika to speak of the Tsholotsho participants as agreeing to “subvert politburo guidance”.

So there we have the ruling party’s definition of democracy and debate neatly set out. There must be no “subverting politburo guidance”.

No wonder nobody will open their mouths when the president invites them to debate his succession! And can we take a party seriously in the 21st century that continues to refer to one of its officials as “secretary of the commissariat”?

Josef Stalin would be proud.

Talking of which, does Tafataona Mahoso have any idea how many votes Slobodan Milosevic’s party picked up in the last Serbian election?

He told us that the former dictator and other Serb leaders had to be kidnapped by paid mercenaries “because they enjoyed support and security among the people who had elected them”.

He should look and see just how many people elected them before he next attempts to mislead us. He also appears to think that only Serb war crimes offenders have been arrested to date.

All this in an article which accuses Financial Gazette writers of getting their facts wrong. (A columnist mixed up Argentina and Chile.) Let’s hope none of this has anything to do with a Fingaz article that focused on Mahoso’s role as chair of the MIC.

By the way, has he discovered yet in which decade the Long March took place?

We appreciate that state employees are expected to say some pretty daft things occasionally. But Harare Polytechnic principal Steven Rasa took the cake when he suggested all was well at the institution and none of his students were complaining about fee hikes.

“In fact some students had asked for a fee hike so that the money is used to improve standards,” he claimed.

You can imagine hundreds of students lining up outside his office imploring him to increase their fees!

Rasa then had this to say: “Even me, if school fees for my children are increased, I just pay.”

What an obliging fellow!

Cuba was quick to respond to US claims that it was an unsuitable candidate for the new UN Human Rights Council. The US had no room to talk given its record at Guantanamo Bay, the Cuban government retorted. But the Cuban embassy in Harare should edit the script before it sends handouts to newspapers.

One of 400 intellectuals who joined the Cuban protest against alleged US double standards was British playwright Harold Pinter. His name was followed by somebody called Reino Unido.

Muckraker was puzzled. Isn’t that Spanish for United Kingdom? In other words, where Pinter hails from. And the last time we looked Guantanamo Bay wasn’t “off the coast of Cuba”.

By the way, have any of the “intellectuals” like Pinter and Nadine Gordimer who signed the Cuban document ever protested about the imprisonment of intellectuals and journalists in Cuba?

Talk about double standards!

We liked the picture in Friday’s Business Herald of Minister of Small and Medium Enterprises Development Sithembiso Nyoni reading a speech to an audience of one person sitting on a sofa. He turned out to be the director of the ILO’s sub-regional office.

Did she have anything of value to say, we wonder? Nyoni is of course a notable electoral failure who was found accommodation within the president’s patronage system. Her permanent secretary Evelyn Ndlovu seems to share some of her boss’s delusional political views.

The ministry was trying to fill the gap created by the closure of companies, she told a parliamentary portfolio committee recently in a bid to justify the ministry’s existence. Some of them had been closed for “political reasons”, she claimed.

“The initial closure of some of the companies was not necessitated by the economic environment but was a response that we are taking back our land,” she suggested.

So it had nothing to do with the toxic business climate government’s failed policies has spawned? Threats to seize companies and mines, invasions by politically-sponsored thugs, price controls and an artificial exchange rate had nothing to do with it?

“After the negative reaction by some of the companies our economy began to go down,” Ndlovu suggested.

You don’t say? What qualifications does one need for this sort of job?

“We have asked the people to take up the challenge and come up with projects for commercial centres like Sam Levy’s Village in Borrowdale,” Ndlovu said. “We are tired of foreign nationals dominating our towns.”

This obviously doesn’t include Lithuanians!

Muckraker was disappointed not to see Nathaniel Manheru occupying his usual soap box last week. What could have happened? But all became clear with a report in the same edition of Saturday’s Herald telling us that “notable among guests at the official opening” of the little-read Southern Times’ offices in Windhoek last week was “Cde” George Charamba.

PD should insist that contributors get their copy in before they go gallivanting on government business abroad! Information minister Tichaona Jokonya must have caused consternation in certain circles when he said at the opening ceremony that at the height of the liberation struggle fighters would stop whatever it was they were doing to listen to the BBC news.

He said he looked forward to a time when the Southern Times would become the BBC or CNN of Southern Africa.

What heresy is this?

National Security minister Didymus Mutasa says the land audit teams that have been touring the country “have not come across multiple farm owners”. This was evidence, reported The Voice, that farmers had responded positively to the one man one farm policy.

Is this an assurance that both former Lands minister John Nkomo and President Mugabe were thoroughly wrong? Or is Mutasa’s “intelligence” faulty?

But there were bigger issues in the story. Mutasa said government would delist all farms belonging to blacks that had been mistakenly listed for acquisition.

“I will follow a policy that no one takes a farm that belongs to a black person and I will be delisting them,” Mutasa disclosed. Thank you for that minister. At least we now know that all the bluster about “sharing the land” was pure deceit. It is, as we always suspected, more about race than land utilisation. Or will you next be claiming all whites are poor farmers who don’t deserve to have their farms delisted?

As if to confirm our suspicions about the race issue, Mutasa couldn’t see the contradiction between giving beneficiaries their ancestral land and the vandalism going on on the farms. In his own words, he said: “It is sad that if you give some black farmers a place with
equipment, they sell the equipment and move on to another farm. No, that is not land reform, it is sabotage.”

So, in Mutasa’s lexicon, sabotage is not a crime so long as you don’t threaten those in power!

Meanwhile, Mutasa told villagers and headmen in his Makoni North constituency to speak openly about problems in their areas so that they are solved urgently. He castigated those who “backbite” others as traitors who can stab you in the

His counterpart from Makoni East, Shadreck Chipanga, who also attended the meeting, apparently didn’t hear Mutasa’s message. He attacked the same headmen “for openly attending MDC meetings yet every month they are paid by the Zanu PF government which they castigate at their meetings”.

No wonder the headmen appear confused. It starts at the top.

zanu PF apologist Dick Chingaira is a graceless winner. He was given a Silver Jubilee award for his “revolutionary music”. Instead of accepting the accolade with modesty, he went over the mountain tops to boast about how people like him spent seven years in the bush to liberate the country from white minority rule. He was equally bitter that it took 25 years for him to be recognised.

He went on to criticise the organisers for giving Thomas Mapfumo an award. “They should not have given him the award because he has become a sellout ever since he went to America,” declared Chingaira.

Mapfumo sang against corruption in high places as far back as 1989. The cancer has now become endemic in government and we even have a whole anti-corruption ministry. Senior Zanu PF officials are implicated in the deals that see fuel finding its way into the black market instead of farming. Perhaps Chingaira could tell us who fits the description of a sellout!

in the midst of poverty, poor service delivery and swingeing rate increases and service charges, the Harare council has achieved the unthinkable: town clerk Nomutsa Chideya says now they have all the money they need “there should be no excuse for failure…” He said they were in the process of buying vehicles, plant and equipment, workers have been given a 130% wage review and they are able to service their debt.

This month, revealed Chideya to the Herald, they expect to collect $850 billion from rates, supplementary charges and “other sources of revenue”.

“Out of this, nearly $300 billion will go towards salaries and wages, leaving the city with a surplus of $500 billion.”

So why the punishing charges on struggling ratepayers? You would expect council to ease the burden on “the chicken that lays the golden egg”, as we read in one newspaper this week.

No, not in Zimbabwe where the commission runs the city and taxes residents solely for its own benefit. No doubt they have enough to buy curtains for the mayoral mansion too.

David Bullard writing in the Sunday Times provided a lighter look at the Danish cartoons furore. We should give the Danes a taste of their own medicine, he suggested, by having a go at their Viking gods.

Proposed graffiti: “Odin is raven mad.” “Thor wears a thong.” “Valhalla is full of quiche eaters.”

“Pretty incendiary stuff,” Bullard thinks, tongue in cheek, “and we’re publishing it only in the interests of press freedom.”

Finally, is the new Swedish ambassador, who keeps giving a hostage to fortune by making naive statements to the government media, a victim of Caesarian section?

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