Muckraker

Bad news: Made will return from Russia

‘IT is a crime to conceive the exit of the head of state.”


This newly invented crime was made known by the Speaker of parliament and Zanu PF secretary for administration Emmerson Mna

ngagwa last week. He was responding to a question by the Financial Gazette on whether he would consider contesting the presidency should President Robert Mugabe decide to call it quits.


“I would love him to continue (to rule) until death,” declared Mnangagwa.


Muckraker found this both chilling and nauseating. This is the man who is touted as President Mugabe’s preferred successor who can’t even speak his mind without resorting to fawning platitudes. So what is going to happen should people be cursed with his presidency? In the unfortunate event that he is elected Mnangagwa would obviously want to make it “a crime to conceive the exit of the head of state”.


At least Zimbabweans have been warned about the type of people seeking high national office.


Meanwhile, we wonder if the Fingaz thought it was doing Mnangagwa a favour by describing him as the “most feared” Zanu PF official. Is that a strength for someone seeking public office? Isn’t one Mugabe more than enough?


An alert reader says he has finally cracked the puzzle of the Zimpapers triplets of Nathaniel, Lowani, Jonathan. This is how he explains it:


“To me they are one and the same, only tri-named but one small brain. I have been trying to prove this for some time now. Breakthrough came when Lowani Ndlovu attacked Jonathan Moyo who had attacked the Herald or whoever attacked what!


“From what we read Jonathan is Lowani and vice versa. Then the coup came last Saturday, November 13. I am sure this did not escape your sharp eye. In the morning the Saturday Herald was carrying the usual Manheru column in which he wrote about change, ie regime as opposed to government change.


“I did not think much about it until the Newsnet’s 8.00 news in the evening. In one of many stories on Jonathan Moyo, there he was at NUST giving a lecture. And what did he talk about, among other things? Right! Regime and government change, almost verbatim what was in the Herald!


“Voila! Let’s see how he is going to get out of this one.


“Lowani Ndlovu = Nathaniel Manheru = Jonathan Moyo. If you extend this equation: Lowani Ndlovu = Nathaniel Manheru = Jonathan Moyo = CRACKPOT!”


Muckraker will leave it to readers to draw their own conclusions.


Fuel shortages are beginning to bite once again and the queues at fuel service stations are back. More than that, the ubiquitous “black market” dealers are doing what they know best. Except that the market is not so black anymore because the advertisements are there on the front pages of the state media for all to see. But registered filling stations don’t seem to have the commodity.


We were recently told there was enough foreign currency to meet demand. In fact when the glitches began to manifest themselves some three weeks ago, it was “revealed” that there were more than 70 registered fuel importers some of whom didn’t have so much as a drum to store the fuel.


Noczim was said to have failed to account for up to US$20 million. We don’t know as yet what the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s visit to Noczim offices yielded.


Then we were told fuel marketers were going to start using the Beira oil pipeline and that “fuel shortages will soon be a thing of the past”.


As usual, we took this with a large pinch of salt. We have been vindicated in our scepticism. Shortages are as current as the debilitating political and economic crisis. It appears that propaganda is failing to push fuel through the Feruka pipeline!


By the way, did we hear Newsnet on Monday claiming that Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono said there was US$70 billion available for fuel imports?


There was an attempt to explain that this was in fact local currency. But the main headlines at the end of the bulletin repeated the original claim about US$70 billion.


Those are the dangers of relying too much on file tapes to peddle vapid propaganda. Unfortunately those given the task of reading the propaganda also lack a sense of proportion. With US$70 billion in its coffers Zimbabwe would not even need to negotiate to purchase or lease planes from China. There would be no need for the Homelink campaign. In fact our sovereignty would be unassailable!


The inimitable Nathaniel Manheru tried to blame the fuel crisis on the machinations of BP/Shell to bolster the so-called Cosatu plot to blockade Zimbabwe’s borders.


The claim deserves no more than contempt. We thought the 70 or so licence-holders were patriotic Zanu PF adherents since all the licences are issued by government!


We were surprised to read in the Herald that President Mugabe had sent a congratulatory message to US president George Bush on his re-election. More sober and restrained than his official spokespersons, Mugabe spoke of “working with you to enhance cooperation between Zimbabwe and the United States”.


Working with Lowani Ndlovu’s merchants of “regime change”? How strange.


That aside, Mugabe prayed for a “safer, more peaceful and more prosperous world in which the prosperity of small countries will also be the concern of the United States”.


But Mugabe has been sitting on the wheels of progress on the Nepad project. We hope he also has enough information on the goals of Agoa and the US$15 billion Bush has pledged to fight Aids in third world countries. So far we appear to be one of the few states left out of the loop.


Does Mugabe’s message signal a new dawn in Zimbabwe’s approach to international relations? That would make Gono’s task a lot easier than hitherto.


On Monday the Zimbabwe Independent got some bashing from the Herald’s latest find and ZBH’s political commentator, Caesar Zvayi. The paper carried an obituary of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat done by Reuter. All we did was place a picture of Arafat alongside the obituary. That did not please the geography teacher who went into annotating the features. There was the “annotative” and “denotative” evaluations of the picture, showing that “the Independent as usual wanted to show that Yasser Arafat was defeated”. It was speculated that if Arafat’s fingers covering his face “had been black and white” it would convey the “impression of a terrorist”.


The Independent was blamed for not using a “more flattering picture” because “Comrade Arafat was a true revolutionary”.


Zvayi even blamed the Independent for the intro to the obituary, which said Arafat had made many blunders in his many years as leader of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation. We wonder what spin Zvayi wanted us to give the story.


We are frequently assailed by cries of indignation from the Sunday Mirror every time we question their credentials as an independent newspaper. Then they go and attack journalists in the independent sector or foreign correspondents for misrepresenting the Zimbabwean story.


For instance, last weekend there was an eruption of bile in the newspaper’s “Behind the Words” column because Guardian correspondent Andy Meldrum had won Columbia University’s Schork Award for his reporting on Zimbabwe.


The writer, adopting the racist tone of Nathaniel Manheru, said he was becoming “more and more peeved by the perpetuation of the White Man’s Burden discourse in so far as Zimbabwe is concerned and the way it is buttressed by the doling out of these endless awards.


“The impression given by self-proclaimed martyrs like Meldrum and the rest of their circus is that we are wading through streets of blood and stepping on carpets of broken bones while the starving masses are on the verge of becoming cannibals because there is simply no food in the national reserves.”


The Zimbabwe Independent’s front-page story headed “Parly exposes grain deficit” last Friday was cited as an example of “crisis” reporting.


What is the suggestion here? That newspapers should remain silent when a parliamentary portfolio committee finds massive discrepancies between government’s claims of a bumper harvest and the reality on the ground?


That we should pretend there are no food shortages; that there have been no attacks on peaceful NCA demonstrators or other civic activists in the streets of Harare? That nobody in Zimbabwe has been killed for their political views?


We appreciate that Zimbabwean realities can prove inconvenient for Pollyanna perspectives peddled in pro-state newspapers like the Mirror. But they should avoid churlish criticism of colleagues in the private or foreign media when their contributions to exposing official dishonesty and hypocrisy are recognised.


Meanwhile, we have been very indulgent towards our former trainee sub-editor Tendai Chari who has taken a few pot shots at this newspaper of late. We have not said what we thought of his skills as a sub-editor or the extraordinarily flexible entry requirements for those teaching at UZ’s Media Studies department. Knowing the difference between reign and rein (November 7) does not appear to be a requirement!


All we would say for the time being is that four-letter scatological terms to describe what some newspapers publish (November 7) suggests not only a lack of good taste but a dearth of descriptive powers. Dr Zhuwarara: are you paying attention?


Police commissioner Augustine Chihuri has criticised lawyers who “hide” their clients when they know fully well that the police are looking for them.


He didn’t mention police officers who hide detainees when their lawyers are looking for them!


He was addressing lawyers at the Law Society of Zimbabwe’s summer school in Nyanga.


He said the police were committed to ensuring that the rule of law was observed.


“It is not in the interests of the police in any civilised country, including ours, to see the breakdown of the rule of law,” Chihuri noted.


But responding to criticism that the police did not uphold the rule of law during and after the land reform programme, he blamed the legal community for contributing to the confusion. Disputes arising from land reform were mainly civil in nature, he argued.


“For reasons best known to some of you, you have always dragged in the police and sought to have court orders enforced through state machinery. As police we have always said we could not do that.”


Muckraker is confused. Did he not say the police were committed to upholding the rule of law? And is he now claiming that court orders instructing the police to enforce rulings will not be obeyed where they are civil in nature?


It is useful to have all this on the record.


Chihuri cannot understand why “policing has moved into the centre of political debate and controversy”.


Perhaps he should read his remarks for the answer.


he Herald carried a great story on Monday. It was headed “Made, Mumbengegwi leave for Russia”. The bad news? They are coming back!


The Russians meanwhile should be on their guard. That barley Made is offering in exchange for equipment should be inspected very carefully. The minister, as parliament discovered recently, can be somewhat imprecise about quantities!


As for the Herald’s attempt to rubbish Elias Mudzuri in an article headed “Mayoral mansion now white elephant”, would it not be useful to ask which elephant the mansion was built for?


The Southern Times is really turning out to be an exciting newspaper. Last weekend it led with “Kaunda donates trademark hankie”. The item is due to be a major tourist attraction in the Lusaka National Museum.


“Wherever he went,” we were told, “be it public rallies or private meetings, Kaunda either waved his handkerchief or held it in his left hand throughout his reign of 27 years.”


There was no mention of how it got washed although it must have been subject to the occasional downpour. Then there were all those tears that cascaded at the drop of a hat.


The museum’s management thanked the former president for his donation and said the “artefact” would be displayed as part of the museum’s historical collection. Other items donated by KK included a safari suit, a black pair of shoes and a necktie.


Interesting. But not quite the same league as the Cairo Museum. No Tutankhamen, just Tearful Ken.


inally, for those who are gullible enough to believe the economy has “tuned the corner” and is now on the “recovery path”, how do we explain the sudden fuel shortages?


Would it not be safer to say as the election approaches that we face another predictable five years of ZaNo? ZaNo fuel; ZaNo jobs; ZaNo food; ZaNo liberties, and ZaNo future.