Kirsty is our son of the soil’

AS the nation’s institutions line up to say how much they support the new electoral principles agree

d last week by Sadc leaders in Mauritius, some have been demonstrating a rather limited grasp of what is involved.

The Herald told us on Saturday the police had welcomed the Sadc guidelines. Police spokesperson Oliver Mandipaka said they already had a “strategy” to ensure the March parliamentary elections are held in a peaceful environment. The ZRP was fully prepared to deal with political “malcontents” and elements bent on destabilising the peace of the nation, he warned.

But at the same time, Mandipaka said the police aimed to provide “the best service possible, a service which would earn the total satisfaction, confidence and support of the general public”.

We thought the Police Act already required this of a professional police force! Is Cde Mandipaka telling us that before the Sadc guidelines he didn’t know the police were expected to operate impartially and inspire confidence in all citizens regardless of political affiliation?

We have heard the warnings in the past against those who engage in violence or incite their supporters against opponents. In most cases these are politicians from the ruling party. What does Mandipaka expect the youths from Border Gezi centres to do when they hear people like President Robert Mugabe and Jonathan Moyo describing the official opposition party as puppets, sellouts and enemies of the people? Is that not incitement by the highest office in the land?

And how does Cde Mandipaka hope to get an impartial and professional police force when the head of that force declares that he is a member of the ruling party? Isn’t that partly the reason why most professional officers have left the force?

While we suspend belief because of past experience, we would love to see a reformed ZRP sooner rather than later and we wish Mandipaka all the best in his endeavour.

One-party-state dreamers appear to be winning their war against democracy. That was the message Muckraker got from reading the editorial comment in Zanu PF’s The Voice this week. The comment was smugly titled “No more MDC to talk about”. You would expect such a bold proclamation to be supported by concrete evidence of the MDC’s demise. There was nothing except the gratuitous insults that we have become accustomed to.

“While opposition parties in other countries enhance democracy,” wrote the editor, “the MDC has been doing everything possible to kill all associated with democracy in the country.”

Is this the conclusion the public reached from the Cain Nkala case — that it is the MDC that is associated with murder and terrorism? Was that the view of the court? Has the editor of The Voice been asleep?

And how can the opposition enhance democracy in Zimbabwe when it is demonised daily in the state media and its democratically-elected councillors and mayors are hounded out of office by latter-day Stalinists wanting to control everything?

Then we are told the MDC demonstrated it was anti-Zimbabwe “when it vehemently opposed the land reform”. This is immediately followed by the following revelation from the MDC manifesto: “The MDC said it was going to redistribute five million hectares to at least 100 000 families in a period of five years.” 

Not the same thing as “vehemently opposed” is it?

The comment ended with a big reassurance to Zanu PF supporters: “The MDC is obviously now history and Zimbabweans can now freely do their business without risking being bothered by power-hungry thugs who think ruling a country is the same as running their tuckshops.”

Which thugs are these? Those like Joseph Mwale who despite belonging to the country’s intelligence service cannot be traced?

The Voice editor should ask Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa why he needs pernicious laws like the Public Order and Security Act under which the opposition cannot hold rallies freely and ordinary Zimbabweans need police clearance to congregate in an independent Zimbabwe.

He can also check with President Mugabe why the country needs to indoctrinate the youths with phoney histories when other nations are empowering their children with technological skills to compete with the best in the world. Does he believe a Kirsty Coventry can emerge from a Border Gezi training centre?

Talking about Coventry, we notice that she has suddenly become “a son of the soil” even among those who only yesterday were telling all whites to go back to Britain. Can anybody recall a kind word about whites since Mugabe called on his venal war veterans to “strike fear in the heart of the white man”? 

Come Coventry and the Olympic medals and the state-controlled media couldn’t miss an opportunity to be associated with her. Suddenly her medals had become Zimbabwe’s after we failed to produce a single medal winner from our own soil!

Muckraker might have missed something. But we do not remember government contributing a cent towards Coventry’s training. The best they ever did for swimming was to construct the now moss-covered Olympic-size Chitungwiza Aquatic complex in preparation for the All-Africa Games in 1995. It has become a shining monument to all that is wrong with sports administration in this country.

And all that is wrong is there in our cricket which has been ruined by the actions of a few racists who think people should be rewarded for their skin pigmentation instead of talent. The chaos is there at Zifa for all to see. Rugby lies comatose. It will be many generations before we can produce another Black family in tennis.

We have crowned all that with a ruined economy. We would not be far off the mark in postulating that were Coventry locally-based and belonged to some club she would not have won an Olympic gold. While we are happy that she won three medals, let’s also acknowledge our failure as a nation to produce sports stars. Instead we persecute them. Ask Heath Streak, Andy Flower and Henry Olonga!

The biggest consolation for Muckraker in this respect was that the Greeks made sure Sports minister Aeneas Chigwedere was nowhere near Athens for the Olympics. He has done just about everything imaginable to destroy both sport and education in this country.

The foul-minded Lowani Ndlovu reckons every NGO in the country has evil designs against his party, Zanu PF. He doesn’t say why, if his party is the love of the voters, it is so hated. Because there is no love lost between government and the people, instead of voluntary compliance, laws have to be dreamed up daily to force people to love the party. It’s a crying shame for a party that came to power on a wave of popular support that it has to remain in power by threats and coercion.

Lowani’s latest project is the NGO Bill that seeks to register and regulate the operations of all NGOs in the country which he claims are seeking to effect a “regime change”. That’s the fellow’s bugbear when he’s not running away from the ghost of Tony Blair.

We can only hope that this time around Zanu PF MPs will scrutinise the Bill when it comes before them and pass it on its merit instead of foolishly listening to bogeys being raised by Lowani about NGOs threatening national sovereignty.

They were previously cheated about the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act and now they rue the day they voted with party emotions rather than their national brain. Now they have to go down on their knees to beg for space to express their views, even in the state media. Once “beaten” twice shy, as the government’s semi-literate columnists would say!

For good measure Lowani also accuses NGOs of being corrupt. That might be so but they can’t be worse than people who seized more than one farm illegally and are now obfuscating issues to avoid surrendering them. Land is a national resource, not a treasure trove for looting in the name of Zanu PF.

And why does Lowani maliciously repeat the lie that Care International “unilaterally distributed poisonous sorghum seed in Chivi” when it has been explained that all they did was contract companies to supply the seed? And everyday we are reminded of falsehoods under Aippa!

Lowani, whose column has been successfully colonised by a big-headed opportunist, darkly suggests that NGOs have been undermining Zimbabwe’s sovereignty “in ways that are yet to be fully told to Zimbabweans”.

Needless to say, he supplies no evidence to support this calumny. But we all know what he means: Some NGOs have been helping people to exercise their rights, improve their lives and aspire to the same standards of governance as apply elsewhere in the region. This is what Sadc leaders meant when they said citizens must have the right to fully participate in the political life of their countries. Zanu PF is doing precisely the opposite: it is denying people the right to participate just as it denied people the right to vote in 2002.

Let’s record not only this abridgement of rights which contradicts Zimbabwe’s undertakings made last week, but also the role of ruling-party spokesmen in attacking existing NGOs representing churches, lawyers, and journalists.

“All these organisations and more,” we are told by Lowani, “are among those included by (US Assistant Secretary of State Walter) Kansteiner as working closely with the US government to effect regime change in Zimbabwe.”

Is there a shred of evidence that Kansteiner contacted any NGOs or journalists’ organisations in Zimbabwe? Does Lowani know of any? If so why hasn’t he told us?

Lowani’s cousin, Mzala Joe, writing in the Sunday News, is indignant that a recent survey could suggest that an increase in President Mugabe’s popularity is due to propaganda in the public media.

“What propaganda?” he wanted to know. “The public media has merely reported what President Mugabe does and says whereas Blair’s media — that includes the so-called Zimbabwe Independent — has always lied about the president.”

A closer reading of the survey, Mzala Joe suggested, “would indicate that the public is sick and tired of the lies and that the reason why the president’s popularity is increasing is because the public is punishing the liars in the opposition press, such as the Zimbabwe Independent, which never says anything true or good about President Mugabe. The bottom line to all this is that lies do not pay. The public media is succeeding because it does not lie.”

This, coming from the sister paper of a publication whose editor sees nothing wrong with inventing comments and conversations and then stands by his lies when challenged by regional editors, is more than a little rich!

But what we suspect Mzala Joe wants us to say is that under President Mugabe’s regime Zimbabweans have seen vast improvements in their standard of living, an increase in agricultural production, and huge strides in healthcare.

Anybody could have said that in 1985 or 1990. But who could say it now 14 years later without lying?

So it came to pass that a Herald reporter had a nasty encounter with our thuggish law enforcers in front of the Magistrates’ courts on Monday. The photographer said he was taking a picture of Charles Charamba being led to court on fraud charges. Is this what Cde Mandipaka termed “the best service possible”?

The police detectives accosted the photographer and damaged his camera worth about $10 million. We wish former Daily News photographer Virginia Mauluka was around. Her experience at the hands of the riotous police was life-threatening although the state media then jeered at her claiming she was part of an illegal demonstration.

What is interesting is that although a Newsnet camera crew was at the scene, they chose to keep a safe distance from rioting police detectives. They reported it as simple “manhandling”. It reminds us of the late Defence minister Moven Mahachi who, after the army tortured Mark Chavunduka and Ray Choto, shamelessly claimed the two journalists had “scratched themselves”. Meanwhile each evening Newsnet promises us: “When it happens we will be there”. But with their eyes and cameras shut. To be or not to be there, what is the difference?

What is happening to our Chinese and Malaysian friends? The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority says the industry is in dire straits. “Figures for holiday and business makers in Zimbabwe are quite high,” it says, “but the majority of them, about 70%, are staying with friends or families.”

This has seen hotels in Harare having room occupancy of as low as 38%. So which sector of the economy is on a firm recovery path, we wonder?

And how come all these foreign tourists suddenly have  families here?

Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa, asked in parliament about relations with Nigeria following a false report in the Sunday Mail about Nigerian support for the MDC, replied that relations with Nigeria were “excellent”. Opposition MPs were attempting to “drive a wedge” between Zimbabwe and its friends, he said.

The government was not responsible for what was carried in the media, he said.

Does that include the government media? Is Chinamasa seriously suggesting that government-owned newspapers are not controlled by government? What else is he asking us to believe? That pigs have wings?

He also claimed, by the way, that government did not interfere with the judiciary. At least the minister still has a sense of humour!

Congratulations to Kumbirai Kangai for not losing sight of the important things in life.

He told parliament on August 17, in reply to the presidential address, that he would share with colleagues the “issues of today”.

And what were these?  “The president came to this House with his graceful wife who was well-dressed (hon members: inaudible interjections).

“I acknowledge that she was well-dressed.”

Really enlightening stuff kk!

Finally, Muckraker would like to know if there is any connection between Zesa’s power cuts and Jonathan Moyo’s Back2Black initiative.

Sydney Gata announced at the CZI conference early this month that he would not be going to George Bush or Tony Blair for supplies.

As nobody had suggested he should, he is obviously once again in campaign mode.

Zesa yauya!

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