Mahoso’s Media Circus mum on mandate

LAST week this paper published the names of those serving on the Media and Information Commission. They are former Sunday Mail editor Pascal Mukondiwa, former Chronicle assistant editor Jonathan Maphenduka,

UZ media studies head Rino Zhuwarara, Mkoba Teachers College principal Sephath Mlambo, and retired civil servant Alpinos Makoni. Former Polytech lecturer Tafataona Mahoso is chair.

These are the individuals who have denied Zimbabweans their right to receive and impart information by rushing with indecent haste to deny the Daily News a licence.

Which three were nominated by media bodies as required by law? Affidavits submitted in court by a variety of media organisations in connection with a Misa challenge would suggest none. But Mahoso insists media organisations were consulted. So why is he so reluctant to say which ones?

And which of the six commissioners enjoys the confidence of the media — or indeed anybody else apart from the minister himself? Some worked at semi-literate newspapers where professional standards are unknown. One is a former media lecturer who doesn’t know that when his rambling column continues “next week” there should be a short introduction to say what point he was making when he came to an abrupt halt the week before. Another was last seen running a village store in Mt Darwin.

These people will now presume to regulate us and dictate professional standards. Purleez!

The Sunday Mail, which likes to lecture us on sovereignty and independence, on September 21 carried an interesting map of Africa on its back page. Accompanying an article on the draw for the 24th African Cup of Nations in Tunis, the map showed countries such as “German East Africa”, the “Gold Coast”, “French Equatorial Africa” and the “Belgian Congo”.

It clearly pre-dated the First World War! Is Jona-than Moyo aware of this heresy being perpetrated by his mischievous subordinates? And how will the Warriors from “Southern Rhodesia” fare against German colony Kamerun, British protectorate Egypt and French colony Algeria?

The map showed a ribbon of British colonies stretching from Cape Town to Cairo. Cecil Rhodes’ attempt to paint Africa red has finally succeeded, it seems, in the offices of a Zanu PF mouthpiece!

The ZRP is feeling sorry for itself. That’s if a supplement headed “The Commissioner’s Funfair”, carried in the Herald last Saturday was anything to go by. Wayne Bvudzijena led the self-pitying. Individuals and groups had emerged which believed their objectives should take precedence over ever-ything else including the laws of the country, Wayne whined.

“New Euro-centric phrases have saturated the social environment,” he complained.
“ We have heard of democracy, rule of law, selective enforcement and politicisation of the police,” he said.

“Using unverified reports and with dirty hands, some of the advocates of these principles have approached the local and international communities trying to convince them that indeed Zimbabwe does not observe these principles.”

So instead of talking about the duty of the police to be impartial, professional and non-partisan, Bvudzijena took it upon himself to criticise civil society for exercising its constitutional right to freedom of expression.

“Being vocal as they are,” he said, “such groups hijack these freedoms and drum them as an absolute standard that should be observed by government and its arms…”

Surely not? Insisting the police do their duty? And there was more: “Usurping the whole intentions of democracy, vocal publications as well shout abuses (sic) at the police to make citizens think that the police are corrupt, brutal, highly inefficient and not to be trusted.”

Gosh. Next he will say the public believe police spokesmen have their speeches written for them by unelected ministers! Is there no end to these calumnies?

It’s not only the police who are feeling unloved. The Herald carried an editorial last Saturday headed “Zim’s judiciary independent”. Judges appointed over the past three years have been “ridiculed and their reputation as judicial officers maligned for accepting appointments to replace white judges”, the editorial said.

It is important to remind the Herald’s editor that only some of the newly-appointed judges replaced white judges.

Black judges were replaced as well. Many judges left the bench as a result of threats made against them by ministers and war veterans. Ministers said at the time the new judges were appointed that they would be expected to advance government’s legislative agenda. Ministerial patronage has included the award of land leases, a move that is widely seen as compromising judicial independence.

While the Herald may wish to cultivate the view that the previous white judges sided with commercial farmers, it conveniently forgets that the tradition of judicial independence Chief Justice Anthony Gubbay upheld was inherited from Chief Justice Enoch Dumbutshena.

The finest judges in this country are those of any colour that can think for themselves. If the reputation of the judiciary has been tarnished of late, it could be because there is a growing perception that some judges are beholden to the executive; that they have refused to uphold rights to which applicants are constitutionally entitled; that they have dragged their heels in hearing cases where applicants should expect early redress; and that they have leant over backwards to accommodate the claims of the state, even when the state has difficulty making its case.

That perception will not have been helped by the Herald’s intervention on their behalf!

Our reporter Dumisani Muleya appears to have struck a raw nerve in his story last week on the ructions Zanu PF’s succession committee has been causing as bigwigs battle for power. A furious Nathaniel Manheru used his Herald column on Saturday to heap Muleya with personal scorn before dismissing his article as “fictitious”.

“Muleya definitely lives in his own utopia because these so-called battles only exist in his own small mind,” he spat.

The same day the Herald announced on its front page that the succession committee had been disband-ed “after it emerged that its activitieswere causing divisions in the party”.

We think in future the Herald’s editor might tell Manheru what he is carrying on the front page, especially when it emanates from the party chairman, so Manheru doesn’t look quite such a fool when denying the same story inside the paper!

We have discovered, by the way, that any reporter who pushes the button marked “succession” is likely to see Manheru go ballistic. What is the connection here?

Manheru’s alter ego “Under the Surface”, who was so far under it he disappeared entirely last week, was busy attacking Muckraker on Sunday for showing insufficient respect to the late Simon Muzenda.

“This Muckraker moron has got (sic) a bit too far this time around”, the spooky state spokesman said of our proposal that Muzenda’s collection of cardigans be put on display.

“Does anyone call that rubbish a joke?” Cde Under pompously admonished.

“ Under the Surface, like many people out there, doesn’t really care about the hogwash Muckraker churns out weekly,” he declared before devoting 12 paragraphs to hissing and spitting over our column last week. He didn’t mention reports of people in Mbare and Warren Park being forced to attend the funeral last Wednesday.

Despite his impeccable credentials as the spokesman for a rotting party, Cde Under, like Manheru, often finds himself overtaken by events. On Sunday, September 14 he wrote in the Sunday Mail that Muckraker had been “misfiring” by telling readers there was a consensus in the Commonwealth that Zimbabwe’s suspension should not be lifted at present.

“Muckraker in his wild dreams thinks that the views on Zimbabwe of Sadc, Nigeria, and even the ACP countries do not matter and only his stinking opinions matter,” Cde Under fulminated. “Who’s fooling who?”

He got his answer the next day when the Nigerian government said President Mugabe would not be invited to the Abuja Chogm.

Which Sadc states came to Zimbabwe’s rescue? Apart from some fighting talk in Pretoria which soon evaporated as the Nigerian position became clearer, no Sadc, ACP or any other state spoke up for Zimbabwe. All we were left with were Stan Mudenge’s idiotic remarks about Australian racism which, coming from a government that advertises its racist credentials every day, proved less than convincing.

Stan may appreciate the following remark overheard recently: “I don’t approve of political jokes. I’ve seen too many of them get elected.”

World Food Programme spokesman Richard Lee appears confused about Zimbabwe.
Talking about the food deficit in this country, he said if donors could be made to cough up, then all would be well. He spoke about the “distress migration” of Zimbabweans to South Africa.

“Obviously, if we get the funding we are asking for, there will be no need for migration,” he said.

Evidently he hadn’t thought that you could have a full belly and still wish to migrate to escape torture and gang rape, find a job without joining the militia, or just to exercise plain freedom of speech.

Naturally, the well-paid WFP bureaucrats cannot look beyond their noses.

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