Fate of he who lives by the media

THE Bible says he who lives by the sword shall die by the sword. So let it be with Professor Jonathan Moyo who has been buried by the media he loved so much.

He was left out of the Zanu PF politburo announced by Presiden

t Robert Mugabe on Friday. He was conspicuous by his silence in the state media. The only mention was that he had been replaced by Ephraim Masawi in the politburo as deputy information secretary. That’s how swiftly Zanu PF can humble a man when he has become a liability. Which is what Moyo had become.

Speaking after the announcement, Mugabe said Zanu PF was a party of the people which sought to fulfil their wishes. “We are a party for the people, we listen to the people’s views and take those views as our guideline and as we take these views the people become our leaders,” he said.

Was this meant to be a mockery of Moyo? Why was his name removed from the list of central committee nominees after he was chosen by the people of Tsholotsho? Would the people of Tsholotsho agree that their wishes were honoured and that they are the leaders? We doubt if the six provincial chairmen suspended from the party over the infamous Tsholotsho gathering endorse Mugabe’s pronouncements. So much for democracy!

Another party constituency spoiling for a fight are the war veterans in Matabeleland. They have rejected Andrew Ndlovu as their leader. Last week the war veterans pointedly told Ndlovu and those who appointed him that he was not wanted. Let’s wait to see how this one pans out.

We felt sorry for Munyaradzi Huni when Lowani Ndlovu accused him of ignorance and embarking on a task that was beyond his abilities. He asked how Huni would cover all constituencies and if not which ones would he cover and how was he going to select them? Now it turns out Lowani need not have bothered asking such questions.
Huni has thrown ethical reporting out of the window. He has become Sylvester Nguni’s publicist and is proud of it. In the process of extolling Nguni’s miracle in developing Mhondoro, those he doesn’t like are tarred black and damn the consequences.

The current MDC MP Hilda Mafudze was declared dead by Huni last week. She was called a “deserter” in the constituency and her party pronounced dead.

“It’s not only Hilda who is history. The whole MDC is history here,” said one of Huni’s informants. Needless to say no attempt was made to solicit her views.

Huni says when he went to Mhondoro “I expected to see the MDC MP busy at work”. What naivety can beat this?
Is that how MPs operate? Are Zanu PF MPs always in their constituencies when he visits them, “busy at work”?

The other victim of Huni’s biased campaign was Mavis Chidzonga. Huni claimed in his Constituency Watch column last week that Chidzonga had been given a chance to lead the constituency as an MP “and she failed us”.

Unfortunately for Huni, Chidzonga would not be dismissed so easily. Huni was apparently given a good talking to.
So this week’s column was devoted to Mavis Chidzonga pointing out the developments she has made in the constituency.

In sum all the infrastructure which was last week attributed to Nguni was in fact Chidzonga’s effort. So much for Huni’s objectivity and integrity! Why should we trust him to tell the truth next time? And what about those other MPs that are not given the chance to defend themselves in the media?

But if you think Constituency Watch is shoddy, nothing matches the paranoia tormenting Huni’s Under the Surface column. He is terrified that Britain plans to deport about 10 000 Zimbabweans. Under the Surface, just like Jonathan Moyo, believes every Zimbabwean in Britain is employed by Tony Blair. So the deportees will cause mayhem in the country, warns Cde Under.

If Tony “deploys 1 000 saboteurs in each province, that is enough to cause serious problems for the country. The country’s security should be on high alert,” said Cde Under this week.

If that is not meant to “cause alarm and despondency” in the populace we don’t know what is. And where is Tafataona Mahoso and his media ethics when needed? How does Cde Under explain the presence of so many “economic refugees” in the UK when the delusional Labour minister Paul Mangwana claims unemployment is merely 9%?

Britain is to shut or downgrade 30 embassies and consulates by the end of 2006 to find money for urgent tasks such as fighting terrorism, weapons proliferation and global warming, reports the Telegraph.

The Foreign Office said nine small embassies and high commissions in the Pacific, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean would close. Their work will be taken over by locally hired honorary consuls or British diplomats in embassies in nearby countries.

A further 10 consulates, most of them in western cities, will be closed and 11 stripped of British diplomats. The biggest shake-up in diplomatic posts in more than a decade is the result of a strategic review ordered by Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, since September 11, the war on terrorism and the invasion of Iraq.

Straw said the closures would save £6 million a year and the money would be redirected to other Foreign Office departments.

“The savings will help to underpin higher priority work in line with the (Foreign Office’s) strategic priorities,” he said. Britain is making cuts to its embassies and armed forces despite having one of the strongest economies in Europe.

This is in sharp contrast to poor Zimbabwe where President Robert Mugabe recently indicated the country needed to open more embassies across the globe although we have not received any benefits from the many we have at the moment. In fact there have been reports of embassy staff being paid late because there wasn’t enough foreign currency. Instead of trying to save, it appears that we wish to spend even more of what we don’t have.

It’s called standing logic on its head.

The Business Herald’s Victoria Ruzvidzo seems to be full of optimism.

“We were again early this week served with another appetising dose of good news,” she wrote last Thursday. Inflation had gone down to 149,3%.

“This rubberstamps the effectiveness of the tight monetary policy launched by Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono,” she gushed, evidently unaware of what to “rubber-stamp” means.

“The news couldn’t have come at a better time,” Victoria continued, barely able to contain her excitement. “Most of us are already in a festive mood as we prepare to celebrate (Christmas) and the new figure leaves us in an even better mood.

“Effectively this Christmas we can buy a bit more goodies…”

Well, Victoria might be able to buy a “bit more goodies”. But just a few pages earlier in the same edition of the Herald we find an article headed “Monthly expenditure basket soars.” The cost of the monthly expenditure basket for a low-income household of six rose in November to $1 647 855 from $1,5 million, the Consumer Council disclosed.

“The average consumer is still worse off as we enter the festive season,” the CCZ’s Tonderai Mukeredzi said, “considering that the new income tax threshold will only be effective in January.”

Did Ruzvidzo miss this statement? Is she aware that at 149,3%, Zimbabwe has the highest rate of inflation in the world? And why are Zimpost and Tel*One permitted to raise charges by up to 3 000% without the Reserve Bank governor, the Ministry of Trade and Industry, or the Herald batting an eyelid?

Victoria points out that other countries have been successful in taming inflation. The examples of New Zealand, Chile, Germany, Switzerland and Sweden are given.

Does she have any idea about the economies of those countries and how they differ from Zimbabwe’s — ie how well-managed and investor-friendly they are?

Pollyanna journalism is all very well. But for a serious business journalist to compare Zimbabwe to Switzerland or Germany is simply ludicrous, unless we are talking about Hitler’s Germany!

Ruzvidzo’s article headed “Decline in inflation leaves us in festive mood” appeared the day before CFX Bank went into curatorship because Gono had not been watching the ball. Here was a bank that customers supported because it had merged and reorganised in line with RBZ policy, only to find the RBZ itself had not been diligent in its supervisory role.

Let’s see an article next week by Ruzvidzo or another of the Herald’s sunshine journalists on whether CFX customers are having a bright festive season!

Does Kenneth Kaunda really think we have forgotten his record in office?

Last week he was calling on Africa to develop its own resources and be less dependent on others.

“We are done with the liberation struggle, now we are faced with the second phase of war, the economic liberation,” he was quoted as telling the Namibian press during a courtesy call on President Sam Nujoma with an Egyptian business delegation.

“This is the stage that we need to empower our own local investors to make sure that we fight together in this struggle and, believe me, we will win. Economic development in this continent will thrive before you realise that,” he said.

A noble sentiment. But how did the Zambian economy “thrive” under his stewardship? How did the mines perform after nationalisation? How did agriculture perform after the collectivisation of land?

Kaunda’s rule was an unmitigated disaster. From one of the highest per capita GDPs on the continent in 1964, it shrunk to one of the lowest in 1990. And now he is posing as an apostle of African revival.

Shouldn’t somebody more credible assume that role? Somebody who understands that economic development doesn’t just “thrive before you realise it”. You actually have to put in place certain fundamentals.

On which subject, we were interested to see the Southern Times’ editorial last Sunday suggesting that the rest of Africa should follow Zimbabwe’s “landmark achievement” in reducing inflation and developing home-grown solutions to economic problems which should be “envied and followed” by the rest of the continent.

“The principal lesson which other African countries should draw from the Zimbabwean experience is that Africans can be masters of their own destiny by severing ties with the patronising West,” the paper says.

There then follows a full frontal assault on the Bretton Woods institutions.

Can we assume a 30% contraction of GDP over five years is all part of a grand plan to empower Zimbabweans? And is Dr Gono wasting his time seeking the indulgence of the IMF on Zimbabwe’s debt and balance-of-payments support?

What is significant here is that Gono is pursuing a policy of re-engagement with the international community while the Office of the President which launched the Southern Times is pulling in the opposite direction.

Do regional governments support a policy which denounces the West in the stale language of the 1960s and 70s? Isn’t Nepad designed to counter this sort of unproductive populism that scares off investment?

The only evidence the Southern Times can provide for Zimbabwe’s dramatic “recovery” are claims made in President Mugabe’s State-of-the-Nation address to parliament!

Sadc will require rather more than that as its “inspiration”. Listen to any Namibian, South African or Mozambican minister and they will tell you that their countries are doing all they can to avoid Zimbabwe’s example. Should the Southern Times be advocating policies that the region has rejected as counter-productive?

Just in case you were wondering where all this was coming from, Southern Times headlines include “Zim’s MDC edgy ahead of polls”, “Blair, World Bank and IMF come under fire”, “Zim winning war against inflation”, and “Zimbabwe’s tourism set for boom”.

By the way, has anybody seen a tourist yet? AirZim is not having much luck with its Beijing route, we hear. Instead there will be 10 000 Zimbabweans coming on an involuntary visit following the UK’s withdrawal of its hospitality.

Jonathan Moyo, sounding increasingly deranged following his recent setbacks and no doubt trying to attract the president’s attention ahead of last Friday’s central committee meeting, appears to think Britain has been “luring young Zimbabweans” to train them in sabotage, intimidation and violence.

The thousands of Zimbabweans who have had to jump the hurdles of UK immigration rules may have difficulty with the suggestion that they have been “lured” anywhere. And they won’t look too kindly on a regime that insults them in this way when they come home to endure the economic wasteland these same ministers have spawned.
But this episode provided an interesting sideshow.
Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa had offered a generous response to a question put to him in parliament. Moyo jumped on that question, from Job Sikhala, to make an idiot of himself talking about “sabotage” and “mercenaries of regime change”. He was quoted widely in the international press to underline the fact that Zimbabwe is a dangerous place.

On Friday afternoon we heard that Moyo had been dropped from the politburo. Perhaps the president had been listening after all!

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