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Editor’s Memo

Unique exports

AS Iden Wetherell rightly predicted, the restructuring exercise announced last week at the Zimbabwe Independent set detractors’ inflamed tongues loose, giving all sorts of interpret

ations to explain his elevation to Group Projects Editor and my own appointment as Editor.

The Herald cobbled together a funny little story on Saturday which suggested that Iden had been “demoted” for failing to give prominence to the torture of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib.

The Sunday Mirror weighed in with its own hypothesis that Iden was a bulwark against “critical analysis” of the opposition MDC by the Independent. The “imperious gate-keeper made sure (there was) no unsavoury criticism of the democratic successor regime”, the Mirror claimed.

A hack claiming to be calling from the Herald on Friday evening wanted me to confirm that I had staged a newsroom coup together with my colleague and co-conspirator Joram Nyathi.

“I hear you were in South Africa where you met with Trevor Ncube to plot Wetherell’s downfall,” he gushed. He expected me to say “yes” to this farrago of nonsense. In fact we are all now assuming roles Iden and Trevor first proposed five months ago.

I got a call from the Herald assistant editor Moses Magadza on Tuesday – whom I last met in Nyanga two years ago – congratulating me. But I forgot to also congratulate him on his appointment as editor of the regional newspaper, the New Sunday Times, that is expected to preach unadulterated black nationalism. I also forgot to ask him why we did not see the Sunday paper on July 1, the promised day of appearance – a Thursday!

Anyway, good luck Moses and congratulations. Thanks also to all who sent me messages of support.

Coming back to conjectures about the restructuring, one cannot fail to notice attempts to set an agenda for the new editorial team.

As a black editor, there are some who would like to believe that I should advertise my nationalist credentials by remodelling the paper into a pliable medium for praise-singing partisan politics. That will not happen because other media are already ably playing that role!

I believe my greatest contribution as a nationalist would be to continue pointing out fractures, faults and deformities in Zimbabwe’s political, economic, and social superstructure. There is also cause to celebrate achievements as long as these are not imagined.

I believe that our society does not need to be told how to think but requires assistance and elucidation on issues to think about. Society needs to hear alternative voices to the mantras of officialdom, and the Independent will continue to provide that voice which enhances decision-making.

The trip to Johannesburg – during which I spent 10 days at the Mail & Guardian studying and exchanging ideas with a well-knit professional team – was worth living through the biting cold for, which unfortunately followed me back home at the weekend. The trip also awakened me to the level of crime by Zimbabweans living in the Johannesburg metropolis.

Last Tuesday and Wednesday I had an opportunity to attend Mutumwa Mawere’s court hearing in Randburg at which a crest-fallen team of Zimbabwean investigators and central bank officials witnessed the besieged businessman being taken off remand. I had a chat with Mawere who assured me that he was as clean as a whistle and had not externalised a single cent. We will see.

Mawere, resplendent in a dark suit with half a dozen lawyers and handlers in tow, looked incongruous as he stood in the crammed corridor waiting for his turn to be called into the small courtroom. He was however not the only Zimbabwean to stand in the dock at the Randburg court during the two days. He joined at least 10 Zimbabwean youths who appeared before magistrate Tefo Myambo.

On Tuesday, a six-member gang of Zimbabweans appeared before the magistrate to answer charges of car theft. There were two spiky-haired Zimbabwean juveniles – who were apparently not clear about their ages – on a charge of house-breaking.

During a chat at tea break one member of the gang told me they were from Mfombi (Mufakose) and that they preferred to stay in a South African jail than go back home. Another unique export from Zimbabwe!

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