Muckraker

More psychiatric institutions please!


INFORMATION mi

nister Jonathan Moyo naively believes Zimbabwe’s problems will simply vanish by blaming them on the opposition MDC. He told a rented crowd in Bikita West on Monday the formation of the MDC had brought about the current “economic and social hardships” so that people could blame President Robert Mugabe and his government. Only the most naïve like Moyo believe such transparent falsehoods.


The truth, as everyone knows, is that the MDC was in fact formed as a result of the hardships the country is experiencing. The economy was in freefall; the Aids scourge was taking its toll on the youth while the cost of living soared without anybody seemingly in control.


“The MDC is a threat to growth and development because they believe in economic sabotage as a manifesto. They are saboteurs,” declared Comical Moyo apparently without any sense of proportion.


If Zanu PF were a capable party the MDC would evidently not have garnered nearly half the vote from the electorate in the parliamentary and presidential elections that they got. If Zanu PF were not a party of economic saboteurs the country would not be in this mess. Everybody knows fully well who sabotaged the country’s agricultural base. We are fully aware of who has destroyed industry and commerce and reduced business to a black market economy.


Olley Maruma was last week at pains to paint a grim picture of the war to liberate Iraq, giving us facts and figures, all culled from the same Western media we are always told fabricate stories when reporting either on Zimbabwe or on Africa in general. This time, because their “graphic descriptions” served his purpose, the reporters were introduced as award-winning writers whose accounts should be taken as gospel truths.


The question one must ask is why we can’t get the same “graphic stories” from Maruma and his ilk in the government-controlled media about the violence unleashed on innocent civilians by government after it lost the “Yes” campaign in the February 2000 constitutional referendum? Is it possible to get the same graphic accounts about the violence that accompanied the presidential election last year?


Let’s talk about “gruesome atrocities” that took place under Maruma’s nose committed by a government or its mercenaries against its own people. Why is Maruma not keen to chronicle such incidents to show the world his sincerity about the truth? Of course such material would not see the light of day in the government media. And he would have to seek political asylum elsewhere after he is labelled “an enemy of the state”.


Maruma wrote disparagingly in Herald about “Zimbabweans who, in the name of democracy, human rights and the rule of law, think that what happened in Iraq should happen to their country”. First of all, no Zimbabwean wishes any such thing on their country. Second, it is because the British media that he quotes with such gusto enjoy “democracy, human rights and the rule of law” that they are able to write the way they do about the actions of their government. Can the same be said of Maruma’s favourite media?


Third, Maruma is afraid even to mention that — the weapons of mass destruction propaganda aside and the oil factor in — many Iraqis had become fed up with Saddam Hussein’s tyranny. That explains why we didn’t see the “mother of all wars” threatened by Saddam before he cowardly disappeared from his presidential palaces into the stinking slums of Baghdad. Not a single soldier of the much talked about Republican Guard was prepared to risk his life for a ruthless dictator whose single consuming desire was to stay in power at any cost. And it didn’t suit Maruma’s agenda to question how it came about that as many as 14 000 patients were confined to a single psychiatric institution in such a small country! One only needs to read state media for bizarre incidents of violence and murder in this country to see where we are headed. More psychiatric hospitals please!


Talking of the bizarre, the Herald reported on Saturday that a mortician and his assistant in Chitungwiza were pawning corpses to desperate motorists wishing to buy fuel. The two allegedly issued out fake burial orders and lent corpses to black market fuel dealers so that they would not have to queue the whole day for the scarce commodity. This must certainly rank as a world first.


The problem is that those claiming to have the mandate to run the affairs of this country appear to have all taken a long holiday from duty. The country is on autopilot and Muckraker wonders why Robert Mugabe is keen to be recognised as president. Is there any pride in presiding over this moral decay!


Things don’t seem to be working for the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and government. More money printed, no money in the banks! There were more queues in the banks than in the shops this week as people tried to get the little money there was, or hoped there was. At one Barclays branch in the city centre in Harare last Saturday  Muckraker spotted a disconsolate Joseph Chinotimba moving from one counter to another in search of the elusive dollar. All along we thought this currency crisis was a disease only for the poor!


But more seriously, how does a country with so much potential run out of its own currency? It has nothing to do with trying to contain inflation because noone in government thinks about this scourge except Finance minister Herbert Murerwa. So where has all the $24 billion released into the market in the past few weeks gone?


Muckraker reckons Ignatius Chombo would be better engaged there to suspend or fire somebody and leave Harare executive mayor Elias Mudzuri to do his work. Of course that is merely a wish. In the Zanu PF scheme of things people are hired more for their incompetence  than their skills. Which explains why Amos Midzi still drives his official Merc as Minister of Fuel Shortages.


We felt sorry for poor Joseph Katete, a correspondent for the Herald who is unable to get a passport because the laws in this country classify him as an alien. He has been in the “queue” for two months waiting to submit his application form for a passport.


When he turned up at the Passport Office last Friday, according to his own account in the Herald, not only was he rudely told to queue again, he was also asked to “denounce” his foreign citizenship.


“After filling the forms renouncing your foreign citizenship you then apply for registration as a citizen of this country and you will be required to pay $30 000,” Katete was told. The whole process takes about six months.


The reporter’s crime is that although he was born in Zimbabwe, his parents were not. We feel sorry for him because if he had a claim of citizenship to another country his choice would be very simple. Zimbabwe’s own children are skipping the border in droves, with the British High Commission alone receiving 18 000 applications since November last year.


Katete should be grateful that he has a medium through which to relate his ordeal. Most victims of the same faceless office are not so lucky. Nevertheless, if Zimbabwe was still a habitable place it would be cheap at $30 000. Just a few loaves of bread for the registrar-general.


“The battle to get that document (passport) continues”, says Katete, “and it seems the war is still far from over”. Dead right. And you are not alone in the war to rid the country of pernicious laws promulgated by a regime under siege.


Lording it on US Secretary of State Colin Powell was Nathaniel Manheru in the Herald on Saturday who appears to have been imbibing too much of Leopold Sedar Senghor’s verses for his own good. Whole metaphors and symbolism from Senghor’s poems about slavery and colonialism were pilfered with liberal self-indulgence that amounted to plagiarism. Powell’s crime was one of omission, according to the self-important Manheru. He was accused of “not speaking during (President George) Bush’s entire African visit” two weeks ago.


“He failed to make a case for a continent for so long so wronged and injured without repair by the white world, both in history and contemporary politics,” raved the rabidly racist Manheru who seems to think the mere biological fact of being black confers virtue. Conspicuous by its absence was the point that Powell talked very strongly against dictators who make it their mission to torment and starve their people. Never did Powell in his New York Times article call Zimbabwe’s problems a race issue, a black versus white thing. The issue is one of good governance and the rule of law.


Muckraker was shocked by Donald Mukota’s crude behaviour on 3FM last Thursday evening. During a programme called In Focus in which he and two other panellists were discussing measles and their causes, a distraught-sounding young man telephoned to say his elderly father had just arrived in Harare but might not be able to find his way around. Could somebody who might see the old man phone him.


Mukota, who promotes his slots as “the station for the new millennium”, was not amused. He turned the young man’s request into a browbeating contest.


“This is not a programme for messages,” he said. “We are discussing measles control here, what station do you want?”


 If Mukota’s measly mind could not help, at least he could have spoken to the young man off-air instead of parading his insolence to the public. How does Jonathan Moyo expect such neanderthals to take us into the new millennium when they can’t help people who pay their wages?