Of dunderheads and political prostitutes

SO what happened to Carlton Majuru on Monday? Muckraker left home late hoping, as Carlton always advises, that when I got to work late I would claim I was listening to Live 60. So I waited. And waited. There was

nothing, no apology, not even a remark.

Luckily I wasn’t fired. But the delay in getting to work allowed Muckraker to listen to the next programme on SFM when listeners were asked to send congratulatory messages to newly appointed second vice-president Joyce Mujuru. People were also asked to say what they expected from “the first female vice-president in southern Africa”.

A lady phoned to say she was happy with Mujuru’s appointment but begged that in future the search for female candidates should go beyond those who participated in the liberation struggle. Not everyone could have left the country to fight. Others were not yet born. In short, she said merit should come before mosquito bites.

Two gentlemen complained that there was no democracy in Zanu PF because people had been told to specifically choose a woman. That automatically defeated the whole purpose of “choosing”. Then came a bombshell at around 8.30am. The gentleman said he was not impressed by Mujuru’s elevation because “she is a dunderhead”. “No, no,” interjected the presenter. “I said let’s send congratulatory messages and say what you expect from her.”

The guy on the other end of the telephone line was relentless. “No, I don’t expect anything from a dunderhead who only spent three days in a pit latrine in Mozambique and is now vice-president.”

He was quickly cut off. How long is ZBH going to continue ring-fencing Mujuru and shielding her from public scrutiny, we wonder?

President Mugabe’s crackers are exploding hard and fast among the party membership. He said there was no room for “political prostitutes” in the party. This referred to “those whose hearts and souls” could be bought with money.

It wasn’t clear though who the political prostitute was — the one being bought or the one doing the buying.

“Those with the mind that can be bought, hearts that can be sold are political prostitutes and this party has no room for political prostitutes,” Mugabe told the closing session of his party’s congress. Unfortunately he didn’t have the courage to name and shame. He also didn’t say if political prostitution only involves money. Could that also have been an oblique reference to Her Worship in Harare?

The story on the front page of the Sunday Mail was titled “No room for political prostitutes: President”. On the turn to page 3 the heading had changed to “No room for political turncoats”. The story doesn’t say who used that word or whether “prostitute” and “turncoat” mean the same thing.

South African reggae musician Lucky Dube must be ruing his visit to Zimbabwe last week. According to the Herald, Lucky arrived at the venue of the show around 1.30am courtesy of our tourist-friendly immigration officials. He said at the border they were moved “from point to point” resulting in the delay. “An officer at the border asked me why my passport had a stamp into London and no stamp for coming out of London,” complained Dube.

“Imagine being sent back to South Africa because your passport has 80 pages when the officer expects 100 and South African officials saying it’s the right passport. That’s what our life is all about and you will accept that we were born to suffer,” Dube told the crowd before breaking into his Born to Suffer classic. Few will deny that Zimbabwe has the misfortune of always shooting itself in the foot. And they want to talk of tourism recovery amid such xenophobia!

Nathaniel Manheru has come out in full support of Information minister Jonathan Moyo who was heavily censured by the party for the so-called Tsholotsho Declaration. Manheru says Moyo and his colleagues may have “erred but they are hardly enemies”.

But how do you defend someone you describe as “subversive” — whatever that refers to? He said while the old guard in the party represents “wisdom”, not “all of them are patriotic, innovative, current, competent and of a democratic temperament”.

We would have benefited from him explaining what constitutes “patriotism” and how it is measured in a man. And what democratic temperament does Manheru find in a man who dedicates all of four years to devising schemes to make the work of journalists a nightmare? Local journalists for that matter.

It is certainly mean-spirited to kick a man when he is down. But Moyo should be the last to expect sympathy from the hundreds of former ZBC employees and their families whom he wanted to starve to death. What about Daily News employees? And the Tribune and Daily News on Sunday? And Manheru calls this “democratic temperament”.

What is good for the goose should be good for the gander. In Zanu PF they always say tamba wakachenjera! But Moyo appears to have thought he had become bigger than the institution itself. We will withhold our commiseration on this one.

We are indebted to the Daily Mirror for the following revelation: Former Energy minister Enos Chikowore told delegates at the just-ended Fourth National People’s Congress that resettled farmers were failing to live up to expectations as the country was continuously facing food shortages.

Presenting his report on land reform, Chikowore said: “I am calling for attitudinal change within our newly resettled farmers. Under the regime of Ian Smith (and) up to 1999, 4 000 white farmers farmed for the nation producing enough food for the nation and having more left over for export. Today, after the land reform programme, there are over 12 000 farmers under the A-2 scheme, but they are failing to do what their predecessors did.”

Could somebody tell Chikowore that there was no Tony Blair during the period he is talking about. Our country has been hit by a blight called Blair, we are told, and patriotic new farmers are heavily afflicted by the plague and so can’t deliver.

In his report on land reform, Chikowore did not have kind words for those who have failed to return surplus land after they were told to do so by the party. He said “top members of the party” had “ignored even calls by the presidency to surrender the extra farms”.

In a report in the Saturday Herald, Chikowore said: “The issue of multiple farm ownership does not only reveal indiscipline and dishonesty in the perpetrator’s mind, it also reveals dangerous disloyalty and lack of faith in the principles that have guided our mighty revolutionary party this far. There are termites within our party, they are not people.”

But why does the party suffer such people in its ranks if it were built on pillars of honesty and integrity, we wonder? You can’t have “top members of the party” who have no names.

Chikowore’s report was also important in one other respect — it should put an end to the myth of the 300 000 resettled new farmers. Only 12 888 people have been settled under the A2 model and 126 843 under A1.

The Herald noted: “The projected 300 000 families due for resettlement was thus not fully achieved.”
That would be the understatement of the year were it not an outright lie. Less than half the projected figure can’t be described as “not fully achieved”. And why were government newspapers putting out false figures for resettlement long after audits by Charles Utete and John Nkomo had established the correct figures?

A family having a pre-Christmas extravaganza in Mabvuku had a rude shock this week, reported the Herald on Monday. While they were feasting and making the best of a bad economy, jealous neighbours would have none of it. They telephoned our vigilant police for a “peace order”. They claimed there was an exchange of gunfire in the neighbourhood. The police quickly fetched up on their shores, clambered over the durawall armed to the teeth, as the saying goes.

They were relieved to find that the dangerous gunfire were simple firecrackers. Instead of leaving the revellers to continue, the police chose to issue an impromptu injunction. Nobody in future would be allowed to explode firecrackers without police clearance. For once the Herald also wondered aloud under what law this decree was being issued. Still, be on the lookout for police officers trying to impose a unilateral state of emergency ahead of the festive season.

MDC leaders have been accused of “globetrotting” and “unashamedly seeking help from former European colonisers”.

And who is making the accusation? President Mugabe. The same Mugabe who before he was banned from travelling to Europe spent a lot of time there, staying in the best hotels while his wife shopped at the best stores.

No visit to Europe or North America was complete without a stopover in London. So what we have now looks suspiciously like sour grapes — the recriminations of a leader who would like nothing better than to “globetrot” as he once did, “seeking help from European colonisers”.

Does he think we have forgotten the £1 million Tiny Rowland gave to Zanu PF? Please, can we have just a little less hypocrisy when he addresses the party’s faithful. Just because they’re asleep doesn’t mean we are.

Meanwhile, tact doesn’t appear to be Mugabe’s strong suit. “Don’t be deceived by that body. She is a young woman,” he said, referring to Joyce Mujuru, in his closing comments at the just-ended party congress. Time for some charm school lessons?

Exactly how many members does the December 12 Movement have and who paid for Cde Coltrane Chimurenga and “Sista” Viola Plummer’s attendance at the Zanu PF congress? Muckraker’s inquiries in New York suggest you can count the number of members on one hand.

“Be suspicious of any organisation with a date in its title,” was the response of one genuine African American activist. “Sista” Viola looked like a vacant lot in the Sunday Mail picture. Can’t she be asked to smile or at least look as if she knows what she’s doing here?

And who is Harpal Brar of the Zimbabwe Solidarity Movement? Has anybody heard of this movement or its leader before last weekend?

Commenting on the “negative publicity” the country has been getting abroad, he said he expected to be assaulted soon after arriving at the airport. He evidently didn’t come via Remembrance Drive! How can these foreign delegates be so naïve as to conclude that it was a people-centred congress simply because the government explained its “policy approaches and remedial action”? Doesn’t a government usually have to do something apart from saying what it intends to do?

Muckraker was shocked to see organisations like Zimsec — the breathtakingly incompetent schools examinations council —putting adverts in the Sunday Mail congratulating the president on the occasion of the Fourth National People’s Congress. Zimsec’s chairman Professor Phineas Makhurane and the “entire staff” said they cherished the “gains” made in the educational sector over the past 24 years. This presumably includes Zimsec’s record of managing examinations!

Other public companies seeking to advertise their admiration for the ruling party were the GMB, Noczim, Zupco and Air Zimbabwe.

“Thanking you for upholding the nation’s dreams” was Air Zimbabwe’s fawning message. That includes, we assume, the dream of a profitable national airline with 15 planes in 1980 reduced by mismanagement and political interference to three planes and huge losses today.

Air Zimbabwe’s story is symptomatic of the Zanu PF government’s disastrous record of presiding over inept and corrupt parastatals. Only this week it was discovered that staff had managed to prejudice the airline of $10 billion between January and October through a discounted tickets scheme.

“Air Zimbabwe should stop being a gravy train for criminally minded and inept individuals in its ranks,” the Herald commented.

Air Zimbabwe produced a lot of hot air in January denouncing a Zimbabwe Independent story on President Mugabe’s travels which implied, the airline said, that it was subject to political control. That was untrue its MD insisted shortly before his unexplained departure.

So we should ask: is the launch of the new route to Beijing an entirely commercial venture? Is it sustainable in terms of passengers and freight income? What sort of study was undertaken to establish the profitability of a twice-weekly flight to Singapore and Beijing?

“We wish you all the best as you continue guiding our beautiful country to greater heights,” AirZim said in its ingratiating message of congratulation to Zanu PF last week. Pass the sick bag please. We feel a little turbulence coming on.

Speaking of which, we see Zanu PF’s old friend David Martin is back on the editorial pages of the Herald. He doesn’t appear to understand why there are so many Zimbabweans living in South Africa. All he can say is that they are very well educated thanks to President Mugabe.

Nice to find a silver lining isn’t it, David? Muckraker’s advice: stick to the Vumba stories.

Here’s a piece David didn’t write about. An MP goes to a hospital to visit a constituent who had reportedly been badly beaten while in police custody. The MP was arrested and charged under the Miscellaneous Offences Act for “defying a police order” to leave the hospital premises.

The MP was Job Sikhala and the party member Tonderai Machiridza who died of his injuries.

Chitungwiza magistrate Shelton Jura last week acquitted Sikhala, agreeing that the state witnesses, who included two policewomen, gave contradictory evidence. Furthermore there was no legal obligation for the accused to take orders from the police, he ruled.

In remarks that have application to the Mabvuku case referred to earlier, Magistrate Jura said the law does not require the police to go out and make orders.

“I do not think members of the public should flee without questioning the authority. There was no legal obligation for (the accused) to take orders from the police.”

Will those concerned with the erosion of the rule of law in Zimbabwe please note: the MP visiting his constituent was arrested and charged. Those responsible for the reported assault on the constituent which led to his hospitalisation and subsequent death have yet to appear in court. The Herald did not explain how Machiridza came to be “late”.

As we all know, Jonathan Moyo is given to hyperbole. Often outrageous, sometimes funny, it seems to be meeting the same fate as exaggeration does everywhere: the law of diminishing returns.

Politburo members are no longer impressed, we are told. Ambassadors, however, may be more gullible.

Moyo told a group of them, in town for the congress, that the “national media failed us in 2000. We don’t want them to fail us again this time.”

While the opposition had raised the matter of the Sadc electoral guidelines which require access for all parties to the public media, Moyo said “we are not paying much attention to it…”

Media laws had to be put in place because at election time “hordes of foreign journalists invaded the country and reported as they wished”.

In 2000 “at least 500 foreign journalists were in the country with some broadcasting back to their countries falsehoods about Zimbabwe at will”.

Moyo said it was unfortunate that there had been “unbelievable vilification” of Aippa which, he claimed, was unanimously adopted in parliament by both Zanu PF and the MDC.

With Aippa, it will not be possible for “any mischievous person to use the media for regime change”, Moyo assured the diplomats.

He has of course recently experienced the limits of regime change himself.

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