Muckraker

There’s no fool like an old fool

WE read with interest the Herald story on Tuesday about a policeman who lost his car keys and a communication radio to suspected armed robbers in Hatfield.

There is no doubt that his was an act of outstanding valour in approac

hing the four men single-handed. But there was also a certain level of bravado that suggests foolhardiness.

After forcing three of the robbers to surrender and lie down, why was it necessary for him to chase after the lone run-away?

Did it not occur to him that they might not just take the vehicle keys but drive the car away with them? Why did he leave the keys in the ignition and the communication radio in the vehicle when he needed it to call for reinforcements?

Did it not occur to him that the robbers left behind could easily have shot him dead and disappeared? Yet arresting the three robbers he had already subdued would have helped the police track down the fugitive.

The article reads like a fairy tale in which the villain is the victor. It doesn’t paint a good picture of police training if it produces such reckless officers. In seeking to win everything, he almost lost everything.

Still on the subject of car keys, why did none of the Herald reports on Kumbirai Kangai’s stolen Merc ask what the driver was doing giving lifts to people at Roadport bus terminus? This was a government vehicle. The suspicion arises that it had become a taxi!


On Friday the Herald carried the colour portraits of nine ambassadors who were presenting their credentials to President Mugabe. The significance of this item cannot have been lost on even the most obtuse Herald reader.

Most of the new envoys will be “conducting their diplomatic business from South Africa”, we were told.

In some cases it was Zambia. But the point is, nearly all the countries cited in the report used to have ambassadors based here in Harare.

Denmark, Slovakia and Argentina, for instance, used to be represented here but decided to relocate elsewhere in recent years.

Others have reduced their staff numbers as trade and the need for consular services dries up.

Many of the envoys presenting their credentials at State House last week tried to think of something polite to say about their new posting. But all they could manage was that there was “potential” for trade and investment.

The Danish ambassador nearly gave a hostage to fortune by saying relations between Harare and Copenhagen were “now on the right footing again”.

He should beware of a Caesarian section!

New British ambassador Andrew Pocock nearly had an involuntary operation when he made some uncontentious remarks last week after a meeting with Joseph Msika about the need to lay foundations before bridges could be built.

But he was obviously not going to be drawn beyond that. So the Herald had to content itself with repeating what Mugabe said when he met the ambassador last month.

It must be obvious to all observers now that there is no basis for talks between Harare and London. You cannot have talks when new draconian measures are being presented to parliament and the state is fuelling inflation of over 800%, thus making business of any sort impossible.

The Herald’s reporter trotted out the tired official line that “relations between Zimbabwe and Britain have been sour since the year 2000 when Harare embarked on the land redistribution programme”.

This is a comforting illusion. Relations between Zimbabwe and many countries soured when political violence and fraud were used to prevent the MDC winning the 2000 election. That is the reality the Herald’s handlers refuse to admit.

And the establishment of a Human Rights Commission will make no difference. The government has had ample time to investigate complaints of torture by what Patrick Chinamasa calls “state actors” and has done nothing to punish those responsible. Its failure to apprehend Joseph Mwale is emblematic of its refusal to take human rights seriously.

Chinamasa unwittingly sabotaged the commission’s credibility by saying it would have “the same independence as our judiciary and our Zimbabwe Electoral Commission”.

So, no change there! But what interests Muckraker is how this all came about in the first place.

Obviously, key cabinet ministers don’t wake up one morning and decide to set up a Human Rights Commission because Zimbabwe is out of step with certain international treaties. So who has spurred them into action? How does it work?


The Herald’s Nathaniel Manheru column was last week spewing venom at Independent staff over what appeared to be resentment of comments in this column.
 
The author didn’t say which comments in particular had given offence and to whom but we do recall drawing attention to the absence of Manheru from the Herald the previous week and references in the same paper to “Cde” George Charamba’s presence in Windhoek at the opening of the Southern Times’ offices there.

This apparently constituted “cockiness” which joins the long list of offences an increasingly paranoid state finds unpalatable. Can we expect a Suppression of Cockiness Bill to make its way to parliament soon?

The reptilian author of the Manheru column, who likes to regularly advertise the little learning he received at the hands of our erstwhile imperial masters, threatened the editor and proprietor of this newspaper with retaliation for letting the “Rhodesian dogs” out.

“Kana koririsa koda kaparuka,” he warned.

This is not the first time this individual has threatened staff at this paper. But let’s put it on the record so when Chinamasa stands up in parliament and talks about the need to bring delinquent “state actors” to account we can mention a few names!

And hasn’t Manheru learnt yet that his threadbare “Rhodesian” label has lost its purchase on the public imagination? Doesn’t the miserable failure of his Keystone Cops gang in Mutare tell him something about public impatience with these diversions when the country is going down the tubes thanks to his time-expired boss?


And there was Didymus Mutasa in the Saturday Herald trying to blame the police for Zanu PF’s latest debacle.

Needless to say, he was allowed to get away with it by the nation’s most unchallenging reporter who asked questions like: “What do you think about the discovery of arms caches 26 years after Independence?”

Shouldn’t that have been: “How can you go on pulling stunts like this 26 years after Independence?”

But Mutasa had some jewels to share with us.

“There are people in Zanu PF who worked so hard to bring this country to where it is today.”

Indeed, no disputing that. Then there was his assertion that “the economy we inherited was never intended for
the number of people there are in the country”.

So that’s why he’s running it down?

And can you believe Ceasar Zvayi asking a question that begins: “Morgan Tsvangirai, who was tried on charges of high treason, has threatened to violently remove President Mugabe”, without disclosing that the MDC leader was acquitted on  those charges?

Indeed, it has become a habit of the state press to repeat charges at length long after they have been dismissed either before plea or in court.

Mutasa was asked if he was being “groomed for the presidium”.

“I do not have that kind of ambition,” was the reply.

But wasn’t it in an earlier “conversation” with Zvayi that he revealed his ambition to be vice-president? Have both he and Zvayi conspired to forget that?

“What is the secret behind your success?” Zvayi gushed.

Muckraker was too busy throwing up to catch the reply.


Meanwhile, Vice-President Joseph Msika has been calling Tsvangirai a fool.

“Do not listen to that fool. He is nothing. He is waffling,” Msika told farmers in Makonde.
 
But he appears to forget that “there’s no fool like an old fool”. We recall him waffling about dogs sniffing around not so long ago.

“I will defend the gains of our liberation struggle with all my intelligence…” he told his audience. They must have been greatly reassured. Also reassuring was his claim in Gwayi that “everything is well on course in so far as the turnaround strategy is concerned”.

Still on the subject of intelligence, why did Nathan Shamuyarira and Elliot Manyika have to issue a joint statement condemning Tsvangirai? Is it a double act? Do they need to prop each other up?

And next time Shamuyarira purports to be defending the gains of the liberation struggle he should be reminded of the F-word. Frolizi! By the way, what happened to his magnum opus on the struggle?


Some of our ambassadors abroad are so intimidated by negative reports about Zimbabwe that they are failing to undo the damage caused, a former senior diplomat told a meeting last week. Strategies were needed to overcome a hostile press, Ambassador Tendai Mutunhu said.

“If the negative reports are not true there is no reason why our tourism sector should continue to suffer like this.”

So what sort of untrue reports is he talking about: inflation at over 800%; arbitrary arrests and detention of government’s critics; newspapers closed down; commercial agriculture ruined; irrigation equipment stolen; fuel diverted for sale on the black market; 700 000 made homeless by state-sponsored attacks on their homes and businesses (with more to come)?

Which one of those negative reports is “untrue” Ambassador? Were they all invented by the media? And do you really think you are going to lure visitors back to this country by getting our diplomats abroad to claim nothing like that is happening?

People who live in our tourism source markets are not the fools you take them for. And, unlike ours, the media there cannot be suborned into saying all is well in Zimbabwe when it manifestly isn’t.


A reader called in on Tuesday to say he witnessed the following incident at around 8pm on Monday night. The presidential motorcade had just passed the junction of Lomagundi Rd and King George Road heading back into town, presumably after visiting the home of the late police protection unit officer, Winston Changara.

A vehicle had apparently detached itself from the motorcade and a soldier who had got out was beating a motorist, kneeling on the ground beside his car, with his truncheon. The victim had his arms up trying to cover his head from the savage assault.

This horrific episode was caught in the headlamps (the streetlights weren’t working) of numerous motorists who, transfixed by the scene, remained stationary despite the lights turning to green.

It was useful to have this report in the same week that Chinamasa referred to “falsifications” and “exaggerations” of human rights incidents.

Let’s hope there were no tourists watching!


Finally, a lighter moment:

A young man consults a fictitious publication’s agony aunt.

Hallo Tete,

I have a problem and ndovimba kuti muchandibatsira ne nyaya iyi.

I am a car thief and dealer in Mbare who has recently been diagnosed as a carrier of the HIV virus. My parents live in Mufakose and one of my sisters, who lives in Mabvuku, is married to a gold smuggler.

My father and mother have recently been arrested for growing and selling marijuana. They are financially dependent on my two sisters, who are prostitutes at a city hotel.

I have two brothers, one is currently serving a non-parole life sentence at Chikurubi and my other brother is currently at Remand Prison awaiting his sentence.

I have recently become engaged to marry a former prostitute who lives in Highfield.

All things considered, my problem is this. I love my fiancée very much and look forward to bringing her into the family.

I certainly want to be totally open and honest with her.

Should I tell her about my cousin who is an MDC supporter?

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