Please tell it like it is, Gono


was surprised by Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono’s refusal to speak to the Zimbabwe Independent last week on the troubled banks issue.

“No, no. I spoke to the nation a few weeks ago,” he told our reporter. “Please refer to my statement. I can’t be speaking to the press everyday.”

Is this the same governor who has assiduously courted the press, paying Mighty Movies huge amounts in public funds to ensure his every word is recorded for posterity by their camera crews?

Journalists were woken up last Friday by the beeping of their cellphones with an SMS from the governor congratulating them on helping to bring down inflation. This is a modern-minded Reserve Bank chief who understands very well the importance of media coverage. But he should also understand that when reality on the ground doesn’t quite match the comforting assurances contained in his statements, reporters may have questions. And he must deal with those questions openly and honestly.

Loftily referring us to his most recent epochal “address to the nation” doesn’t really cut it.

Please Gideon. Tell it like it is occasionally, not like you want it to be. A whole raft of banks are having difficulty staying afloat because the economic fundamentals that caused their problems remain the same. Most are struggling to repay their loans. That’s a fact. It wouldn’t hurt you to admit it when asked.

We were amused by William Nhara’s open letter to President Olusegun Obasanjo in the Sunday Mail last weekend — the same paper that had the previous week published a false report about Nigerian funding for the MDC in the 2005 poll.

Nhara took the Nigerian leader, whom he addressed as “Oga Kwata Kwata”, to task over Nigeria’s reported support for the MDC. The fact that Nigeria’s foreign minister had dismissed the Sunday Mail story as “ludicrous and false” did not deter Nhara from repeating the claim.

“I write as a disturbed Zimbabwean, as a patriotic pan-Africanist, as a progressive internationalist,” Nhara wrote. He forgot to add that he was also writing as a political failure. Voters declined to buy his blandishments in a Harare Central by-election last year.

If Obasanjo had read the latest issue of New African magazine he would know that Robert Mugabe had been voted the “number three greatest African of all time”, Nhara pointed out. Obasanjo, on the other hand, belonged in the Moise Tshombe category, he suggested.

“Let me refresh your memory on what your counterpart President Mugabe said: ‘Zimbabwe will never be a colony again’.”

That’s as far as Nhara’s persuasive powers extend, it would seem. By repeating this facile mantra as some Delphic oracle the pathetic Nhara is simply demonstrating the limited orbit of his intellect.

Don’t we recall some research agency coming under his auspices? What happened to that? And who else would take the results of a survey by Barmy Baffour’s pan-Africanist vehicle as a guide to anything in particular?

The survey, which placed Obasanjo 19th, “should leave you thinking and thinking hard why the world and Africans just love this Robert Mugabe”, Nhara bleated.

After this performance, many readers will agree with Nhara when he describes himself as a “disturbed Zimbabwean”.

Below Nhara’s less-than-incisive piece was another vacant lot by political editor Munyaradzi Huni describing Obasanjo as a chameleon. It contained the usual abuse.

We can well understand why Nigerian Foreign minister Olu Adeniji should express such shock at Zimbabwe’s campaign of calumny against his country. After all, it was Nigeria which gave Zimbabwe the US$5 million it needed to buy out the Argus group’s shares in what is now Zimpapers.

Adeniji called in Zimbabwe’s acting ambassador to express his displeasure at a  “patently untrue publication in the press of a friendly country for which Nigeria has sacrificed so much”.

He charged the acting ambassador with communicating his government’s displeasure to Harare over such claims against Nigeria “which have become a pattern in Zimbabwe”.

At least the facile claim that Zimbabwe was the victim of a conspiracy by the “white” Commonwealth has been disposed of by this latest development. The truth is now evident. The “conspiracy” goes much further than that!

And it was good to see Botswana’s assistant minister for presidential affairs Olifant Mfa standing his ground on the flogging issue. Why should a country like Zimbabwe with an appalling record of abuse of detainees lecture Botswana on “human rights”? When did Botswana last torture a detained lawyer, an MP or a journalist?

The Botswana government should now adopt a more robust position over hosting radio stations which the Zimbabwe state media accuse of “anti-African hate language”.

Who are the masters of hate language? Who have closed the airwaves to public discourse and reduced Zimbabwe to a desolate prison from which hundreds of thousands of its citizens have been forced to flee to countries of refuge like Botswana?

Joke of the week: the Sunday Mail’s editor who thinks we are all “kicking ourselves” for rejecting the draft constitution. The commission, we are told, “comprised some of the most eminent and honourable thinkers the country could assemble”.

Does that include those who ignored the views expressed in the outreach programme and allowed proposals on land acquisition to be smuggled in by the executive?

The state media has been busy pretending that none of the Sadc states have in place the electoral proposals adopted this week in Mauritius. In fact nearly all have independent electoral commissions and one-day voting. Above all they have ruling parties that allow the opposition to campaign!

Protest group Zvakwana, which handed out pro-democracy leaflets at a demo in Grande Baie and flew banners from boats offshore during the summit, found it considerably easier to exercise freedom of expression in Mauritius than at home!

The Sunday Mirror, it would seem, is attempting to match the Sunday Mail in the wildness and scope of its conspiracy theories. Last weekend brought revelations of a plot by Zambian tour operators to warn visitors against crossing into Zimbabwe because of the volatile situation here.

The Mirror’s intrepid business reporter had managed to get a tape of a Zambian tour operator warning Zimbabwean tourism executives disguised as Kenyan tourists that this country was not a safe destination.

The reporter is going to hand the tape over to the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority which he appears to think is some sort of holiday police.

This latest “onslaught”, the Mirror’s reporter suggested, was part of a plot by “enraged” former commercial farmers to “unleash a blitz of inaccurate information” about Zimbabwe.

That was the last we heard of them. They didn’t feature again in the story and no evidence was provided linking them to the tour operators except the claim that they were part of “a grand plan of syndicates involving the powerful Western media bent on securing the demise of the local tourism sector”.

In other words nothing to justify the Mirror’s headline “Ex-farmers hatch plan to block tourists”.

Where’s Tendai Chari when you need him?

Muckraker is always surprised at the panic by mafikizolos in Zanu PF every time the subject of talks with the MDC is mentioned. This week it was Mzala Joe who devoted a whole article to denying that there were any talks between the two parties on electoral reforms.

Obviously alarmed that any such talks between Zanu PF and the MDC might result in people like him being sidelined, Mzala Joe told his Sunday News readers any such talks would be a betrayal of the people. The Independent was attacked for reporting MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s remarks that there were hardliners in Zanu PF who were opposed to such talks. Such hardliners would appear to include mafikizolos like Mzala who have just dipped their snout in the feeding trough.

The truth is that if there was any positive outcome from the talks, the likes of Mzala Joe and his partner in propaganda, Lowani Ndlovu, would find themselves out of employment. They thrive on perceived irreconcilable divisions in the country.

The Sunday News clown claimed the opposition was desperate for talks “because it is now clear to every fool that the MDC has become so irrelevant that the only thing that can bring back life to the sellouts are talks with Zanu PF”.

Those like Muckraker not privileged to be “every fool” have not shut out all prospects of Zimbabweans one day overcoming their adversity and working together to restore the country to its past glory. Apart from the politics of division that have provided sheltered employment to Mzala Joe and his ilk, life in Zimbabwe has deteriorated severely in the past five years. And the issue of unity and restoring national prosperity is not about scoring cheap points.

We wonder if Mzala Joe and his other fools really believe the puerile propaganda that the Independent is a treacherous pro-Tony Blair newspaper for giving the MDC a chance to air its views. Not all editors are thought-terrorists allowed to carry the views of only one minister.

Nothing in the Sunday Mail beats Lowani Ndlovu’s fascination with blair toilets. He claimed in his “uncolonised” column that after the “final push” campaign the MDC fell into the blair toilet. What remains “is for it to be flushed down that toilet” in next year’s parliamentary election.

This exposes alarming ignorance from one who claims to be a son of the soil. He doesn’t know you don’t flush a blair toilet. Nor a bush toilet.

And why is Lowani Ndlovu so terrified of change? This week his effort was directed at confusing a very clear demand for electoral law reform with his so-called regime change. Fortunately he is powerless to stop the process because people have decided to ignore unhinged fellows like him. Even President Robert Mugabe, whom he pretends to be defending, has realised he cannot stop any more the tide of change. So it is that the likes of Lowani will be forced to accept change even as they squeal and rant against the people’s will.

No one believes Lowani’s deranged humbug that electoral reform means “unconstitutionally” removing Mugabe from power. Unless that has been his wish but he lacks the means. Why waste space trying to poison people’s minds?

A fan of Muckraker has written to complain about an MBA student at the University of Zimbabwe behaving like a Zanu PF cadre. This came out last week when a lecturer on corporate governance, Victor Mhizha-Murira, said it was “unfortunate” that Zimbabwe had withdrawn from the Commonwealth since most of the codes on corporate governance originate from that grouping.

One Margaret Sangarwe is said to have taken great exception to the use of the word “unfortunate”. Muckraker understands the woman is the permanent secretary in the Environment and Tourism ministry and apparently they have been told to praise every individual deed by President Mugabe as a collective decision of the people of Zimbabwe. So she went ballistic demanding that Mhizha-Murira withdraw the word “unfortunate” in regard to Zimbabwe’s expulsion, and pretend everything is fine.

According to our reader, the stand-off ultimately sucked in the entire class on the side of the lecturer, himself a war veteran, who refused to be intimidated.

We wonder who is paying for Margaret’s MBA programme if she can’t function outside Zanu PF’s ideological straitjacket. What hope do we have for our kids if somebody doing an MBA can be so indoctrinated she must defend the indefensible?

So despite all the noise about Africans being able to go it alone, there is in fact a secret craving and longing for all things European, or English to be more specific? We always wondered why there was so much coverage of English soccer in the state media despite the Dear Leader’s almost choking anger against Tony Blair.

Robson Sharuko let the cat out of the bag this week when he expressed his disappointment about Warriors captain Peter Ndlovu’s decision to leave England to join South African soccer side Sundowns. This was a huge climbdown, moaned Sharuko.

“Peter should not have gone to South Africa,” he said. “It’s a total waste of his talents, a total waste of his time and a total waste of his efforts. Peter is way above South African football, way above any football played in all the African countries …”

So the best of our footballers don’t deserve to play in South Africa? We need not ask where he wants them, and that’s not politically-correct, or is it called “ideologically confused”?

We have noticed that Housing minister Ignatius Chombo has been making noise about evicting illegal settlers from Porta Farm along the Bulawayo highway. How come very little is being said about squatters randomly scattered at White Cliff Farm, along Airport Road and along Chitungwiza Road, all closer to Harare than Porta Farm? In fact we have just been informed that another illegal settlement is taking shape opposite new government flats in Marimba.

Muckraker is told that two weeks ago a so-called war veteran led his friends in the name of something called Leopold Takawira Cooperative. They hoisted the national flag in an open space on the roadside and one house is already complete.

You can be sure that there are no sanitary facilities. There is no planning of any kind. Considering the time taken to erect the house, you can be sure these are not desperate people. It is what we call lawlessness at its worst. Squatters at Porta Farm are less of a nuisance than those messing around near a proper residential area near Marimba police station!

Keep your eyes on this one and see if there is going to be any movement ahead of an election!

Singapore’s new prime minister Lee Hsien Loong appears to be adopting a different stance from that of his stern father, founding statesman Lee Kwan Yew. In remarks that will come as cold comfort to the Zanu PF regime, hoping to build bridges to the East, Lee said: “Our people should feel free to express diverse views, pursue unconventional ideas or simply be different.”

What heresy!

 So petrol prices are going up? How long ago was it that the Herald assured us they were coming down? Part of the “economy on the mend” message we understood. Time for another call to Dr Gono!

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