It’s time to get sober again

WE were not surpr

ised by the Sunday Mail’s political clown, Munyaradzi Huni’s reaction to MDC MPs’ presence during President Mugabe’s address to parliament last week. He found himself wrong-footed and didn’t know whether to attack or congratulate them. The best he managed to do was to call them “prodigal sons”. But the parable could not be sustained further than that because he couldn’t find the bountiful father to kill the fatted calf and clothe the children in purple robes. The father, by some twist of irony, has himself squandered all the largesse that independence promised.

Huni also tried to lecture the media on what they should do to help heal Zimbabwe’s wounds, all savagely inflicted by Zanu PF. “Journalists and other writers should also start getting sober,” wrote Huni. “I can’t wait to see a headline in the Daily News or even the Zimbabwe Independent saying ‘Tsvangirai denounces Blair’ or ‘MDC hails Mugabe’.” Sure, Huni has a lot of waiting to do. Everybody knows words like “hail” and “denounce” belong to the state media. Why should Tsvangirai denounce Tony Blair when we know all our problems are home-grown? It’s a pity that while Huni tries to tell the media how they should handle the issue of talks between Zanu PF and the MDC, he lacks the moral courage to tell his party that scapegoating won’t get the country out of its multitude of problems.

But the truth does force its way out of subterfuge. With the MDC having started to narrow the political divide, warned Huni, the government’s work has only just begun. “There will be noone to blame for failing to revive the economy, noone to shield corruption and noone to shield inefficiency and incompetence. If they (government) fail to make life better for the ordinary person, people will ask them who next they will be blaming and if they don’t provide satisfactory answers, people will answer them through the ballot box.”

For all his clowning at least Huni admits the truth about the corruption and incompetence of government. The MDC is merely  a lightning rod to protect the real culprits!

Huni omitted to tell us that Tony Blair was the cause of the current bank notes shortages. It’s time to get sober again.

It’s hard to defend President Mugabe against charges of living in cloud-cuckoo-land. Last week he praised police officers during a passout parade at Morris Depot, telling them the birth of the ZRP in 1980 signalled the “end of the heartless colonial system”.

“The Zimbabwe Republic Police, as protectors of a once dispossessed people, should not dither in its support for government and the administration of the laws of the country,” he said.

While this charade was going on, police in Bulawayo were beating senseless a group of elderly women, including a 70-year-old granny, for protesting against the draconian Posa, according to the Daily News.  The behaviour of the police doesn’t convey the image of a force out to “protect” people. It is more heartless than the BSAP that it replaced and doesn’t appear to have a charter on human rights.

Mugabe also complained about the increase in the crime rate across the country because of rising unemployment and poverty. He said this posed a great challenge to the police. Far from it, the police spend much of their time harassing peaceful protesters than dealing with criminals. The biggest challenge they face is refocusing their responsibility towards fighting crime instead of pursuing a partisan political agenda.

It is a tragic irony that the women were beaten and then arrested under the same law which they were protesting. If peaceful protests have become a crime, what options do people have?

Media and Information Commission head, that communist relic Tafataona Mahoso, claimed last week he had salutary lessons from his encounter with two Kenyan “officials”. The officials told him that the quality of journalism and the state of public information deteriorates with the proliferation of publications in any country.

“The more the quality of journalism and public information deteriorated in an African country in terms of the interests of Africa”, wrote Mahoso in the Sunday Mail, “the more that country was likely to be showered with praises from Western media and their governments. In the end, that African country being praised by imperialist media for its free-for-all media policies, is indirectly undermining itself and its own people by allowing itself to be used as a base for propaganda assaults on African aspirations and Pan-African initiatives.”

We would dismiss Mahoso’s tendentious theory as a harmless part of free debate were it not for his self-important position as head of a commission that was set up ostensibly to promote media diversity.  What Muckraker finds worrisome is that he is also a media trainer who preaches pernicious propaganda.

What does he teach his students? That a story should be based on only one source; that an essay should be based on only one book; that only Zanu PF has answers to all our problems? How does the nation benefit from state monopoly over the TV and all four radio stations where the public has no input? Is Mahoso telling us it was correct public information when Agriculture minister Joseph Made lied last year that the country was headed for a bumper harvest when in fact production was at an all-time low?

Mahoso would still walk around with his head held high if thousands of our people had starved to death as happened in Ethiopia in 1984 without the world knowing. The unpalatable truth for Mahoso is the so-called washing our dirt linen in public. The exposition of the VIP housing scandal, the looting of the War Victims Compensation Fund and the corruption that has attended the so-called land reform by the privately-owned media are all seen by Mahoso as “propaganda assaults on African aspirations and Pan-African initiatives”! We are happy to have it from the horse’s mouth that corruption and theft are in fact seen in official circles as positive initiatives.

No doubt Mahoso sees the proposed Anti-Corruption Commission as another imperialist assault on Africans!Why does Mahoso want such corrupt activities to be hidden away from scrutiny when they involve public resources? Not that we expect anything better from a man who spent almost 12 years in America but has nothing to show for it. His employer Jonathan Moyo would be happy to read about the perils of media diversity. His mishandling of funds at Ford Foundation was exposed courtesy of the private media.

Gutu South Zanu PF MP Shuvai Mahofa needs to know better the limits of her “private life”. When the story of her love affair with Major Mike Madombwe first appeared in the papers, the bone of contention was adultery. She may have two husbands dead but Madombwe is reportedly still married to another woman. While Madombwe is relatively unknown, the same cannot be said of Mahofa. Mahofa is an honourable member. Her life should be honourable in and outside the House.

“Am I not a woman like any other woman?” complained Mahofa in an interview with the Herald. Of course not. Not every widow of her age moves around taking other women’s husbands.

Is it ethical for ZBC’s Newshour to go public about other people’s salaries against their will? On Monday this week the ZBC went to town about Harare council acting mayor Sekesai Makwavarara being paid only 10% of her salary. They claimed all this was because of confusion about whether or not she should be paid the suspended mayor’s salary. But it soon emerged that Makwavarara had been overpaid in the past two months and council was only claiming what was due to it. Despite the acting mayor protesting that the salary issue was a private affair, the ZBC went ahead anyway and paraded her payslip on the screen for everybody who cared to see it. Where is Mahoso and his “protection of privacy” Act? Selective application of the law, we wonder!

Muckraker couldn’t at first understand government’s sudden interest in soccer. Now we know. It is in part because President Mugabe loves football and is a keen follower of the sport, we were told.

“My wife knows and always complains that each time I watch soccer I make a lot of noise because I truly enjoy the game,” said Mugabe.

The reason is of course the need to be associated with at least one successful project that has popular support nationwide. One good lesson for Mugabe is that when something is popular you don’t have to use Green Bombers and war veterans to win support. You don’t have to live with the stigma of stealing an election if people still love you. In fact, you avoid stomach and headaches if you and the people are pulling in the same direction. Great political lesson from soccer.

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