Muckraker

Not even Mugabe is spared the propaganda


WE were embarrassed this week to realise that Preside

nt Robert Mugabe has become a victim of information obstructionists. The president’s address to the 21st National Consultative Assembly of the ruling party was all mudslinging at British Prime Minister Tony Blair.


Trying in vain to raise Information minister Jonathan Moyo’s infantile propaganda to a national viewpoint, Mugabe said Zanu PF could not hold talks with the opposition MDC because “they don’t have any authority to decide. They are just puppets and that is why we have always insisted that if there are any talks that need to be done, they have to be between the British and Zimbabwean governments.”


So why would the Zimbabwean government want to talk to Tony Blair if doing so by the MDC amounts to treachery? Are we being told that every lie that Moyo decides should be blown out of proportion in the course of his propaganda duties becomes national policy?


Mugabe claimed to have known “all along that the MDC is a foreign creation disguised as a credible opposition in the vain hope that one day it would ascend to power and perpetuate Blair’s colonial legacy”. Surely we are not being told that all the 1,2 million Zimbabweans who voted for Morgan Tsvangirai in the presidential election in 2002 were bewitched by Tony Blair? And is Moyo now also subscribing to the same view he once attacked that behind every thinking African or Zimbabwean there lurks a white man?


So who is the white man behind Moyo and Mugabe? We have not forgotten which political party was heavily funded by one Tiny Rowland until his death a few years ago. It is the same foolish party that opts to go to China, Malaysia and other countries to trade for American dollars and British pounds instead of trading directly with those countries. It is the same party that once claimed all those Zimbabweans escaping to the UK were MDC stooges who should not be allowed to cast their ballot that is now pursuing them with a begging bowl named Homelink. Since all Zanu PF supporters are happily satisfied back home why worry about British stooges?


What really touched Muckraker about the Sunday Mail’s  report on Zanu PF’s National Consultative Assembly was the realisation that not even Mugabe is spared from censorship. We all know he feels passionately about the issue of multiple farm owners; he staked the integrity of the land reform programme on it when he ordered all those who grabbed more than one property to surrender their surplus holdings.


He emphasised his sentiments on this issue once again when he launched the anti-corruption jihad last December. He repeated at Friday’s meeting that extra farms should be surrendered, according to radio reports before they were sanitised by greedy “immoral little boys” still clinging on to multiple farms.


In the Mail report Mugabe’s call was pared down to a mere footnote without so much as a quotation: “President Mugabe said it was embarrassing to note that the majority of multiple farm owners were in the leadership of both the party and the government.”


So this disembodied short sentence is all Mugabe could say about a subject where there are facts and figures? Yet the newspaper was able to fill tonnes of column inches about the MDC’s puppetry which noone can prove. Muckraker reckons Moyo’s obnoxious piece of legislation should be called the “Protection of Information and Access to Privacy Act”. After all someone wants to pry into our e-mails as well.


Meanwhile, Philip Chiyangwa, who moved the motion to investigate the MDC’s alleged dealings with Tony Blair, has been holding forth in parliament with a new-found passion to defend the motherland. In this cheap propaganda he has been joined by the likes of Saviour Kasukuwere and Foreign Affairs minister Stan Mudenge, who said Britain should leave Zimbabwe alone.


In fact we believe their zeal should be directed at supporting President Mugabe’s anti-corruption crusade. Those people refusing to surrender extra farms looted from the poor are the enemies of the people. If the anti-graft jihad means a time for moral rearmament, that should cover all those Mugabe says are embarrassing the party and government by refusing to share a vital and finite national resource such as land.


Come on Chiyangwa and company. Where is your patriotism? Let’s fish out those clinging on to ill-gotten farms, everything else shall follow.


The shadowy Nathaniel Manheru couldn’t miss the opportunity to make a point about the MDC’s so-called treachery last Saturday. According to Manheru, British Foreign secretary Jack Straw has also corroborated claims by Blair that they are working with the MDC. He reportedly told the House of Commons: “We are actively supporting those working for peaceful change in Zimbabwe: lawyers, trade unionists, civil rights activists, the free media and MPs.”


Then in comes Manheru: “And when these are put together what do they give us?


“The MDC of course…,” was the smug verdict. In other words anybody who exposes Zanu PF and its charlatans for what they are is an enemy. This notwithstanding Straw’s superfluous emphasis on “peaceful change”. Only the mean-spirited among Mugabe’s minions keep dreaming about regime change in terms of coups. Fortunately they have failed to find support for their violent agenda.


The Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa) this week gave us an early taste of its new twice-hourly jingle. Parts of Harare had no electricity the whole of Monday except for intermittent flashes. It was the same problem early Tuesday, so that there was very little work done in the two days.


But on a bigger scale, just what is the import of the jingle? Not only is Zesa failing to meet demand in urban areas, it is a crying shame that people in communal areas who don’t have electricity in their homes are constantly being told that Zesa has brought them power. What power when they rely on firewood for energy?


Talking of which, the front page picture in the Herald on Tuesday said all we needed to say about the success of the agrarian reform and Zesa bringing power to Zimbabwean homes. It showed a huge pile of logs that are being sold as firewood in Chitungwiza. These are obviously indigenous trees that are being felled without replacement. Each one of them takes up to 100 years to reach the size seen in the picture. Not to mention that this is what has been going on for the past four years since the start of “fast track” — environmental degradation.


Is that all land reform was about — hacking down trees for fuel? Then you have Zesa saying something silly about “power to the people”. It is not surprising that the only person capable of coming up with such a gem is none other than the inimitable “Toilet” Tambaoga.


If anybody had questions about government’s attitude towards crime, the exchange between MDC MP David Coltart and Legal Affairs minister Patrick Chinamasa in the House last week provided the answer. Coltart wanted to know what government policy was regarding the likes of Joseph Mwale who was allegedly involved in a murder case in the run up to the 2000 election. Coltart said the fellow was apparently still walking scot free despite a High Court judge indicating there was a prima facie case against him. Chinamasa retorted that since some of Mwale’s alleged accomplices had been arrested, government policy on criminals was very clear: “… we are committed to eradicating our society from crime and that is a clear policy of government,” he said. 


Check the Hansard of June 30. It’s a chilling policy.


Still in parliament, what unfortunate constituency is represented by a fellow by the name Innocent Chikiyi? It looks like all he does in parliament is utter unprintable epithets against other MPs. Last week the deputy Speaker had to order him out of the House because of his foul mouth. Ask Mathias Mlambo-Matewu and Job Sikhala what they were told and then you will understand why we need another Bennett.


We were touched by Robson Sharuko’s complaint against what he felt was biased dissection of their stories by Charles Mabika on his “This is football” programme on ZTV. Sharuko moans that although he has been friends with Mabika for the past 12 years, his integrity as a sports reporter has been shredded to smithereens. Those called by Mabika to ZBC as panellists, lamented Sharuko, “revel in the lights of the ZBC studios, telling the nation how terrible the Herald is, the incompetence of its sports journalists and just about everything meant to label us a pathetic bunch of idiots”.


Sharuko’s bitterness in part stems from the fact that they are never invited to defend themselves and that it is always their stories that are the subject for discussion. “‘This is Football’ indirectly becomes ‘this is the Herald’,” complains Sharuko. “But we never get invited and can only watch from a distance while our very integrity is being savaged on national television.”


We are sorry to hear all this from Sharuko. Muckraker has nothing against either Charlie or Robson. But the thing about integrity being savaged appears to ring a bell when it comes to ZBC. Bring together Tazzen Mandizvidza and Tafataona Mahoso or Vimbai “European” Chivaura on Media Watch, and you can be sure it is the private newspapers that are up for bashing. If it is the main Newshour, you can be equally certain it is the integrity of the opposition that is being mauled and they “can only watch from a distance”.


It’s a pity the so-called media polarisation has got this bad. We thought you fellows were all a happy family in your Hondo Yeminda!


As for the Herald, Sharuko is right. Since it got embedded with the Information department, it is terrible!


Muckraker was interested to note remarks made by Dr Gideon Gono in an interview with the Herald last Saturday. He was asked by Herald business editor Victoria Ruzvidzo about the demonstrations that took place during his recent visit to the UK and South Africa.


Gono replied that there had been “distortions” in media coverage of his Homelink campaign.


Different media houses existed for “different missions”, he replied, and “would do everything possible to stay consistent with their agenda, never mind what the facts on the ground could be saying”.


In London there was only a handful of protestors — “no more than 10” — who were “hired demonstrators”, Gono said. This contrasted with the “over a thousand people who thronged the embassy reception and participated positively”.


In South Africa it was true he could not deliver his message because “rowdy youths who had been bussed into the venue” disrupted proceedings.


“It is true that these misguided youths were clad in T-shirts that suggested their lineage to some political parties back home,” Gono said.


“What I know for sure is that these gangsters were under guidance of people of limited mental amplitude (sic) who cannot distinguish finance from politics.”


It is not difficult to discern the governor’s “politics” in all this. Calling his detractors all sorts of names — “most of them were definitely drunk” — is not a good way to win friends and influence people — especially if you’re trying to get them to part with their funds. If this was a non-partisan visit, why did he use the state media to abuse his critics upon his return?


And have we been given accurate figures? Were many of the “over a thousand people” who attended the Zimbabwe House meeting in London not opposition supporters? 


Did they all give him their wholehearted support? We hear not.


Did the “gangsters” really “loot” the Homelink T-shirts and food and drink at the Midrand meeting? We thought these inducements were put out for anybody attending the meeting.


As for different media houses existing for “different missions”, why doesn’t Gono tell us if he has any connection to a media house? And are “hired demonstrators” the exclusive domain of the opposition? What about Supa Mandiwanzira and Mike Hamilton Public Relations? Who hired them to “demonstrate” what we all know about Homelink?


Despite his protestations, Gono has in fact enjoyed a reasonably indulgent ride with the newspapers whose “missions” he questions. No stories here about self-amnesties or private banking arrangements. We leave that to the Sunday papers.


But we can’t speak for the diaspora. If Gono insists on insulting opposition protestors who live in exile because of the depredations of the government he serves, he cannot expect his next reception abroad to be any less lively than the last!


The Sunday Mirror’s publisher appears to have been stung by remarks made in our Editor’s Memo last week about there being only three independent papers left. As these did not include the Mirror, there was some high indignation at the broadsheet’s headquarters where unwavering defence of the moribund Zanu PF-state project has been camouflaged as independent journalism.


If the Mirror wants to be taken seriously as an independent newspaper it should avoid reporting word for word, as it did on Sunday, the Herald’s version of changes at this newspaper. It is one thing to invent your own spin, quite another to reprint somebody else’s!


Voters fretting about their security at the polls next year do not appear to have been reassured by Zanu PF’s adoption of new electoral procedures. While these are welcome as far as they go, they will be of little use so long as ruling-party thugs threaten the safety of voters ahead of the poll.


Anybody doubting the intentions of these marauders should pay heed to Caesar Zvayi writing in the Herald on Tuesday. It was time to clip the MDC’s wings for good, he intoned.


“As Zimbabweans we have a unique opportunity to send them out the way they came. Let’s kill the quislings at the polls next year.”


So no change there!

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