Where were you Mahoso during the liberation struggle?

HOW timely it was to have a letter last week from a reader who recalled that most of our nationalist leaders and many among the current cabinet had been represented in court

in the 1960s and 70s by white lawyers who were prepared to take on the Smith regime and its draconian legislation.

In his virulent assault on the Law Society of Zimbabwe Tafataona Mahoso concealed that inconvenient truth. Which once again illustrates the point that apologists for this regime are selective in their accounts of the historical record and thrive on public ignorance.

Ignorance is often a companion of malice. Mahoso may not know much about the events of an earlier era because he made no known contribution to the struggle for Independence. Perhaps next time he holds forth with such conviction he could tell us where he was during those years!

Mahoso continued his racist crusade against the Law Society of Zimbabwe this week, which he speciously accuses of defending currency speculation and money laundering. He is right in saying the LSZ lost a constitutional challenge in 2004 against aspects of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act regarding corruption and money laundering. What he doesn’t say is why these vices have continued to flourish when the law is clear. He also doesn’t say who have been the biggest violators of the law since it was enacted. Apparently they are among the same diehard patriots who couldn’t abide by their party’s Leadership Code.

Mahoso also laments that his call in 1999 on government to “declare a national economic emergency” to “explain the economic crisis” and “to stamp out corruption” went unheeded. Isn’t he taking himself a tad too seriously? Has government ever listened to any advice apart from looking for scapegoats for all its policy blunders?

Another startling revelation was a claim by Mahoso of “a raging financial warfare” whose major strategy was “the massive internal devaluation of the Zimbabwe dollar” and its revaluation outside the country.

Who has been responsible for this massive devaluation? We hope he won’t be telling us this is the work of LSZ saboteurs!

Talking of public ignorance, we were interested to note the statement by South Africa’s deputy Foreign minister Aziz Pahad at a parliamentary press briefing last week that the Zimbabwe crisis had been discussed at a closed session of Sadc heads of state and foreign ministers at their summit in Lesotho two weeks ago.

Zimbabwe’s Foreign minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi had told the Herald’s Caesar Zvayi that Zimbabwe had not been discussed because it was not on the agenda.

Here is a good example of ministers misleading the public and state journalists assisting them. But hasn’t it occurred to politicians in denial that sooner of later the truth will emerge and they will look foolish?

In this connection we should advise Herbert Murerwa to stop making silly charges of newspapers having “a political agenda” and “targeting” his “personality”.

There was no bad blood between himself and Gideon Gono, he claimed.

This followed our report last week which was based on evidence Murerwa gave to the parliamentary portfolio committee on Finance and Budget in which he was reported as saying he was not aware of the plan to drop the three zeros on bearer cheques and that there was no guarantee that they would not return by December. This was all “malicious fabrication”, he claimed. He was fully aware of the initiative, he said.

We are happy to hear that his relations with the RBZ governor are now cordial. But the minister has a short memory. He has forgotten the strong differences of opinion expressed in correspondence relating to Gono published earlier this year. Was that all “malicious fabrication” as well?

If so, why did he not say so at the time?

Murerwa could at the same time tell us how, given his inept management of fiscal policy, he justifies his continued tenure in office. He has been a disaster as Minister of Finance. During his period at the helm the country’s economy has sunk to unprecedented depths. His only strategy has been a supplementary budget that depends upon further borrowing.

What measures has he taken that have succeeded in reducing borrowing, taming inflation, and preventing waste? How have his forecasts for agricultural production and GDP growth worked out?

It’s about time somebody did “target” Murerwa’s non-existent political personality which has delivered nothing useful to the country over the past six years of decline.

Unlike some of his more swaggering colleagues Murerwa is a pleasant and modest fellow. But then again he has much to be modest about!

Who keeps feeding Caesar Zvayi inaccurate information every week on the circumstances surrounding Zimbabwe’s withdrawal from the Commonwealth? On several occasions recently he has been claiming that the “white Commonwealth” voted for Zimba-
bwe’s continued suspension while the rest voted to lift the suspension. Then on August 9 he suggested that John Howard had “abused” his position as troika chair ahead of the 2003 Chogm by over-ruling the views of the other two members, Thabo Mbeki and Olusegun Obasanjo.

First of all, Howard was in no position to over-rule the other two members of the troika. Having taken soundings from other states they agreed a common position and stuck to it. Obasanjo, who had attempted to promote dialogue in Zimbabwe, became disillusioned with Harare after he was induced to write to Howard making all sorts of claims that Zimbabwe had changed its ways when, he soon discovered, it obviously hadn’t. The Zimbabwean authorities for instance claimed that the mistreatment of Harare MP Job Sikhala in police custody was being investigated when it wasn’t.

As for the “white” Commonwealth (an invention of the Zimbabwean official media) determining the issue of further suspension at Britain’s behest, this would have been rather difficult given the numbers. In fact a clear majority of members, including states from Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific, decided that Zimbabwe had not made any significant progress on governance issues since its original suspension in 2002 and therefore should not be readmitted.

How could three or four countries arm-twist 50 others? Zvayi should examine the record before he next gets it wrong.

We were interested to note that following their takeover of the Mirror stable, our intelligence community have renamed their papers the Zimbabwe Newspapers Group (Pvt) Ltd.

This news, revealed on the front page of last Saturday’s edition, came as a bit of a surprise to us because we thought that name had already been taken. Perhaps it’s all the same thing to them. Otherwise how does one explain such a howler?

Last week we referred to the role of the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority in promoting the Zanu PF government by pretending all was well with Zimbabwe when it manifestly wasn’t.

A reader has drawn our attention to a report in the local press that confirms this role. ZTA CEO Karikoga Kaseke said earlier last month that “as the economy of Zimbabwe continues to improve, it is expected that tourists from this source (Africa) will also continue to increase”. Many of these “tourists” are of course informal traders.

Could Cde Kaseke tell us which aspects of the country’s economic performance have improved in recent months? And where are all these Asian tourists, currently flooding the country according to the ZTA’s delusional figures, hiding? Why are they not visible to the rest of us?

One salient statistic released by the ZTA gave us the real picture. Hotel utilisation has sunk from 28% in 2005 to 22% while room occupancy has fallen correspondingly from 38% last year to 32%.

The tourists may be coming here but it doesn’t look as if they are taking advantage of our facilities. And thanks to the ZTA’s Operation Murambatsvina in the hospitality sector, they will have difficulty finding a restaurant that is still open. However, the Great Wall and China Garden, needless to say, are unaffected!

Zimbabwe has found a good friend in the east. It was reported at the weekend that the country had signed memorandums of understanding with four South Korean companies. The deals cover telecommunications, tourism, manufacturing and agriculture, reported the Sunday Mail.

Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono told the gathering that Zimbabwe had a lot to learn from South Korea, adding enthusiastically: “We think we have found the answer to our economic recovery programme and this answer is from people who are sincere.”

At times one can’t help feeling pity for the guy. The solution to Zimbabwe’s chronic ills of poor governance and corruption can never come from outside our borders. These are simple problems of bad politics and leaders who can never get enough of political power. If Gono’s advisors are not telling him these basic truths then they are doing him a big disservice. He needs “people who are sincere” around him to understand the true source of our problems.

Deputy Health minister Edwin Muguti says the solution to the shortage of doctors in Zimbabwe is to “poach” them from Cuba and the Democratic Republic of Congo. In a report we published last week, Muguti said Zimbabwe had existing relations with the two countries through which it could get doctors.

An alert reader has just reminded us of a recent report in which the Zimbabwe government was complaining self-righteously against Sadc countries “poaching” skilled workers from each other. It specifically cited Botswana and South Africa as being guilty of this practice.

Why are we now trying to poach doctors from a fellow Sadc country when we should be retaining our own skilled manpower? Isn’t it embarrassing that we should even be thinking about the DRC as a source given that it is just recovering from war and we have been enjoying “peace and tranquility” since Independence 26 years ago, something our leaders never tire of reminding us?

M-Net’s Carte Blanche a few weeks ago had some interesting footage of Prime Minister Robert Mugabe speaking on Gukurahundi in March 1985.

He said: “There may have been one or two untoward incidents but where are the mass graves they have been talking about?”

This was in response to the first claims in press reports of atrocities in Matabeleland at the hands of the Fifth Brigade.

“They tell all sorts of stories of alleged atrocities,” Mugabe said of the press reports. Kevin Woods, who as part of Mugabe’s close security unit witnessed scenes of horror after the North-Korean trained brigade had struck, warned that this was “bad news” and could create international controversy. Woods ascribed the regime’s refusal to release him, even after Nelson Mandela’s pleas, to his detailed knowledge of what took place in Matabeleland in the mid-80s.

Hogarth in the Sunday Times is baffled by the supine response of Zimbabweans to oppression by President Mugabe’s regime.

“He dismembered the constitution and centralised power,” Hogarth points out, “but they did not revolt. He rigged elections and stacked parliament with presidential appointees, but they did not revolt. He banned their newspapers and attacked their printing presses, but they did not revolt.

“He jailed their leaders and sent others into exile, but they did not revolt. He used warlords to seize white farms and then seized the same farms from the warlords for party apparatchiks, but they did not revolt.

“He ruined the economy, drove inflation up to near 1 000%, but they did not revolt.

“Finally, the government took all the people’s money away. And the result? They did not revolt. Which leads Hogarth to a foul thought: May be the people of Zimbabwe have the country they deserve. No?”

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