Muckraker

Where there’s a hole, Moyo fills it


WHO is the garrulous

writer of the Nathaniel Manheru column actually writing for? Certainly not readers of the Herald.


Every week we are treated to the verbose outpouring of a commentator who, when not advertising his literary erudition, appears intent upon denigrating the MDC leadership which he claims is no longer of any importance. This would suggest the writer at least appears to think it is of some importance. Why else would he spend column inch upon column inch every Saturday, in what looks suspiciously like an undergraduate essay assignment, heaping scorn upon Morgan Tsvangirai and his colleagues?


“Here is a threadbare party given to illusions of grandeur,” Manheru wrote recently, “a puny party delightfully cutting a cosmic role for itself; indeed a political Don Quixote stabbing at the winds and dangerously swinging between the hysteria of a takeover psychosis and the holy and magnanimous vastness of an omniscient, omnipotent saviour, poised to redeem a people ‘in crisis’.”


We rather thought it was the windmills Don Quixote was “stabbing” at, but the author could be sure readers wouldn’t spot the difference! After all, the weekly assignment is not written for the likes of them. It is designed to impress a political coterie around the State House incumbent who, we are asked to assume, despite the absence of economic clothing of any sort, is not entirely threadbare!


The writer’s flights of fancy know no bounds it seems. Here is the “hapless” Tsvangirai observing Mugabe’s address to parliament from the gallery: “Denied the decorous image of the leader of the opposition, he could only watch the regal enactment of offices of state from the terraces, taunted and tormented by Zanu PF’s bearded riff-raff … What a far cry from State House for a face-to-face meeting with the wily Bob!”


So a “face-to-face” meeting with the wily — yet regal — “Bob” is the ultimate accolade? At least there will be none of Zanu PF’s “riff-raff” there. But the writer, who indulges himself further with some “twisted warps” and “fragile woofs”, omits to examine the significance of the circumstances he so affectedly describes.


Tsvangirai was at parliament by invitation of the Speaker, we gather. It was part of a wider political initiative driven by the South Africans who now appear to be involved in our affairs rather more than State House apologists like Manheru find comfortable. The MDC has been asked to stop humiliating Mugabe. The one thing that has upset him most, we are told, is his treatment at the opening of parliament. If the opposition really want him to go, they must accord him some dignity. That is all he asks. MPs have therefore been prevailed upon, in the interests of dialogue, not to walk out on the disingenuous and partisan posturing that passes for presidential “décor”. For this concession to Mugabe’s battered ego they will see their political agenda advanced.


For make no mistake, it is Zanu PF that is being obliged to accommodate the demands of the party it loves to ridicule. Yes, the MDC has agreed not to question Mugabe’s “legitimacy” in the forthcoming formal talks. But it will make sure that future electoral arrangements do not provide his party with the means to manipulate, defraud, and otherwise cheat the people of their democratic choice. Yes, it will acknowledge him as president, but at the same time ensure there will be no more Mugabes to tarnish this country’s name and prejudice its fortunes.


Manheru may be able to deceive the few remaining Herald readers that Zanu PF’s support base is “widening” with the illusory “bounteous harvests” that nobody else can see, even from spotter planes, but the reality on the ground is that of a regime unable to control the calamitous economic forces it has unleashed.


Zimbabweans are incontrovertibly a “people in crisis”. Manheru and his ilk may be in denial about that. But then again they are probably also in denial about the absence of fuel and bank notes! This is the clique around Mugabe whose political fortunes are daily declining as the nation sinks into the abyss they have fashioned for it. Manheru may be able to divert our attention momentarily to the “wretched life” of Chileans under Pinochet. But all he can contribute to the wretchedness of his own people is an essay on Don Quixote with a few “woofs” here and a “warp” there. What does this tell us about the warped education of Zimbabwe’s elite whose woof, unfortunately, is not worse than their bite?


 We hope Tafataona Mahoso has as much cash as he needs. We also hope the peasants and newly-resettled farmers in his own rural area have a surfeit of cash courtesy of his perspicacity and insight into the operations of those who control Zimbabwe’s industry and commerce. Even our government, which has never in the past been known for its forward planning, should have everything in place for the next planting season. They must all be hoarding lots of hard cash on the advice of this seer into the future.


Writing in his Sunday Mail column this week, part-time media regulator and full-time Zanu PF publicist Mahoso blamed everybody except government for the current cash crunch. He accused industry of sabotaging the economy by hoarding cash as an alternative to stayaways. But he didn’t identify a single company that has been found hoarding any such cash. Not even one such individual. But obviously having had this insight himself that there would be a change of strategy as part of the final push, he should have warned those near him about these underground machinations to get ready.


A clearly confused past master of conspiracy theories, Mahoso said he was pleased by the measures taken by government to counter the “security threat” posed by the cash shortages “caused by the corporate sector”. He wants the so-called ministerial taskforce to carry out thorough investigations into these evil doers.


“The people expect scientific research to be used to prevent obvious problems from happening,” declared Mahoso. So what did our learned professor tell his employers in government when all media in the country were reporting about inflation going through the roof? What advice did he give them when it was reported most commodities were in short supply and could only to be bought on the black market in Mbare? Or perhaps all that doesn’t make any sense to him at all in terms of cash requirements? What preventive measures is the ministerial taskforce carrying out?


For his own good Mahoso should compare the level of inflation today against the interest rates given to investors and tell us how much interest he has earned in the past two years. The government controls interest rates and the levels of inflation by determining people’s spending patterns. After this he should come back a sober man.


In a further display of his voodoo logic, he says the shortage of bags to carry grain is also an act of sabotage by manufacturers because drought allegedly reduced the amount of grain produced. Was bag-making material not equally affected Professor? No, says the wily Mahoso. Manufacturers should have stopped producing suits, stockings and mosquito nets and invested their money in a drought-hit harvest.


Is there no end to these mosquito-like importunities to our lives in the Sunday Mail?


 In his programme Media Watch on Monday this week Tazzen Mandizvidza complained that media organisations failed to explain to the public the causes of cash shortages. Neither were we left any wiser after listening to him and his able colleague Nhlanhla Masuku who couldn’t justify his presence on the programme. At least in the end he did manage to timorously suggest the problem of inflation was the responsibility of both the RBZ and government. He said so long as there was a serious mismatch in monetary and fiscal policies inflation would scale new heights. But both had absolutely no clue as to how government’s repainted so-called new $500 bill would solve the cash crisis. Perhaps because they knew it didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of success!


 Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa appears to have remained wrapped up in the ice age of the war cabinet even at this late hour in the search for peacemakers in the country. Last week he attacked religious leaders seeking to foster talks between the ruling Zanu PF and the opposition MDC for not being honest brokers because “they have denounced government and Zanu PF” in the past. He accused Bishop Sebastian Bakare and Reverend Trevor Manhanga of bias because they were MDC supporters. “Their interest,” declared Chinamasa, “is out of self-interest. They are MDC activists wearing religious collars.”


Everybody must have been shocked by Chinamasa’s vitriol except those who know that he has no popular elective constituency that he represents in government except his own pocket. Why are religious leaders not supposed to criticise government when it errs on issues of governance and human rights? Is it not their mandate to speak on behalf of their followers when those who lead the country appear to have lost the compass?


Unlike Chinamasa, at least the clergy have not been hypocritical by pretending everything is normal when clearly it is not and, moving with the times, they have realised that change is inevitable and it is now time to find solutions through dialogue rather than denunciation. Whether Chinamasa was expressing his own personal opinion or that of Zanu PF is not clear, but the truth remains that Zimbabweans expect better from their leaders than peevish tantrums from self-serving ministers dependent upon presidential patronage.


Chinamasa also said by withdrawing its High Court petition challenging President Mugabe’s re-election last year the MDC would not be doing Mugabe any favour. Nor has the MDC claimed to be doing anything like that.


“I personally feel that after the maligning of the president he (Morgan Tsvangirai) needs to be vindicated in a court of law because we knew for a fact that the presidential election was freely and fairly conducted and there was nothing to hide,” he said.


As the prosecutor, judge and executioner only he can speak with such finality. But why has the case dragged on for so long before it could be heard in the courts if there was nothing to hide? Surely justice delayed is justice denied. Chinamasa knows that. The MDC’s goodwill gesture is better than Chinamasa’s preferred sterile standoff.


 Also caught in a time warp is some embed under Jonathan Moyo’s desk going by the name Caesar Zvayi who declares the mediation efforts by the church between the MDC and Zanu PF are futile because the two parties “are as immiscible (unmixable) as oil and water”.


We will obviously be subjected to more scary hyperboles from those whose sinecures are threatened by the beckoning peace dividend before they accept that they have been jettisoned as the parasitic scum the nation needs to discard in order to move forward.


On Sunday Munyaradzi Huni offered us a clue as to Zvayi’s identity with the following quote purporting to come from a member of the public: “Just like Professer Jonathan Moyo once said, these two parties are like oil and water, they won’t mix.”


Thanks for that Munyaradzi. But the terminal squeals from Mugabe’s minions are already familiar to us.


 The Sunday Mail recently ran a long “interview” with Moyo  headed “Let’s all rally behind Warriors”, but failed to tell us which of its staff conducted the Q&A. If it had been the usual Moyo embed going by the title “political editor” they would surely have told us.


We suspect that, once again, the minister interviewed himself. How else do we explain the list of questions he was always dying to be asked?


Thankfully, incompetent subbing cut him off as he reached his bombastic climax. He wasn’t even allowed to complete his final question to himself!


But we did agree with his admission that “the public will not take kindly to anybody who tries to use the Warriors as a battleground for cheap or crude politics…”


He was absolutely right there. But, as if to compensate for having his soliloquy cut off at the knees, his thoughts were allowed to suppurate in the “Under the Surface” column below. Where there’s a hole, Moyo will always fill it!


 Somebody trying to fill another hole is Sunday Mail columnist and Zanu PF candidate for Harare Central, William Nhara.


The seat became vacant when Mike Auret resigned because of ill health. Nhara is organising a march, for which we can safely assume police permission will be rapidly forthcoming — or even dispensed with altogether — into the city centre and then on to the Harare International Conference Centre.


But voters of Harare Central should beware of another illiterate Zanu PF candidate in the Chinotimba tradition.


The launch of the by-election campaign, Nhara says, will be preceded by the “procession march from Josia Tongogara/Sam Njoma into the city center”.


Perhaps the Namibian High Commissioner can help Nhara with his spelling now that he has left the columns of the Sunday Mail!