Muckraker

When did this dawn on Chinamasa?

MUCKRAKER was intrigued by remarks made last week by Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa. Addressing a workshop for magistrates and prosecutors, he said his ministry embraced the importance of respect for

human rights. He also said one of the most important aspects of justice was the independence of the country’s judiciary. It was critical to ensure the enforcement of court judgements, he said.


“Without compliance with the due enforcement of court judgements the judiciary is gravely undermined and loses its power, respect and reputation,” Chinamasa said.


Indeed it does. But when did this dawn on him? Was it before or after court rulings on land invasions had been ignored in 2000 and the police instructed not to act? Was it before or after Chief Justice Anthony Gubbay had been chased off the bench?


How many court rulings were ignored in the case of Roy Bennett’s Chimanimani farm?


Chinamasa’s exhortation that “we must as a country seriously develop a culture of compliance with court rulings” rings hollow when you consider the state’s record. Court rulings have been repeatedly ignored when it suits the government to do so. What happened to the court-ordered police investigation into the abduction and torture of Mark Chavunduka and Ray Choto? Why was contempt of court in the deportation of Guardian correspondent Andrew Meldrum never followed up?


Above all, and emblematic of the state’s refusal to uphold human rights, where is Joseph Mwale, an officer in the President’s Office who has never been brought to justice?


As for Chinamasa’s claim that the Ombudsman’s Office was set up to investigate allegations of human rights abuses, can anybody recall that office having done anything useful?


Chinamasa should stop making claims that are so obviously at odds with public perceptions. The proposed Human Rights Commission would “go a long way in ensuring respect for rights in the administration of justice”, he said.


So why doesn’t government demonstrate its sincerity by upholding human rights here and now? Why does it need a commission to do the right thing? Oh, and it would also be helpful if the police refrained from beating up people arrested for exercising their rights. It makes Chinamasa look like a fool!



We were amused by a Herald heading last week: “Church document plagiarised”, it said in regard to a claim made by Anglican Bishop Nolbert Kunonga on the National Vision project in an interview with Caesar Zvayi.


And there below the heading was a photo of three bishops with British embassy official Gillian Dare plagiarised from the British embassy’s Britain and Zimbabwe magazine. Not a hint of an acknowledgement.


It was also, by the way, extremely tactless of the Herald to carry a heading about documents being plagiarised in an article by Zvayi who is no stranger to such claims!


The interview with Kunonga was perhaps one of the most vacuous carried in Zvayi’s column since its inception and could have been summarised under the heading “sour grapes”.


Kunonga wasn’t consulted on the National Vision document, it transpires, and thought he could rubbish it by indulging in Zanu PF-type allegations about Western views on democracy.


It wasn’t difficult to see why he had been left out: he had nothing to contribute, apart from claiming that in the land reform programme “there was no bloodshed on the magnitude experienced in other nations”.


Church leaders had “lied” about the situation in Zimbabwe, he alleged.


Asked what he would consider an appropriate national vision, he offered the example of the 99-year leases.


How can anybody who calls a contractual document “a vision” be taken seriously? What’s the vision in a lease document? And he helpfully admitted where he gets his marching orders. “When those in government say ‘Kunonga, here is the land, participate’, I must go and plough.”


“We must make a turnaround,” he added, “in the spiritual depression and moral decadence we can see around us.”


Does that include bought bishops, we wonder?



Zimbabwe could be forced to begin importing beef within the next five years if urgent measures are not taken to arrest the national herd’s rapid decline, the Sunday News reported last weekend. This was based on comments by the CEO of the Cold Storage Company, Ngoni Chinogaramombe, who said the national herd was dwindling at a fast pace.


He made reference to Zimbabwe’s “huge potential and rich history as a leading meat exporter in the not-so-distant past”. The country used to slaughter 750 000 head a year, but the figure was now down to 350 000. The decline had been rapid, he said.


What is absolutely amazing about this front-page story is that not a single reason was given for the “rapid decline”. No mention of farm invasions or the anarchy on the land that has forced experienced ranchers out of business. It was a completely decontextualised story. (Mahoso, where are you?)


Zimbabwe was until 2000 an exporter of beef. It benefited at one stage from a lucrative EU quota of 9 100 tonnes. Now it no longer has the beef stocks to export and therefore cannot earn forex. All this because of a destructive land policy that continues to drive the country down.


The Sunday News was of course unable to say anything about this harsh reality.



Does anybody recall a funny little story in the Herald about some white man flying off from Victoria Falls in an airforce helicopter and registering it in Zambia? It had been “stolen” shortly after Independence, it was reported by our vigilant state media, and had since been taking tourists on joy rides over the Falls.


Now it appears that it wasn’t a helicopter, it was a Cessna 206. It wasn’t registered in Zambia but in Zimbabwe, according to the CAAZ. And it didn’t once belong to the airforce but to the Forestry Commission. Apart from that, the story was entirely accurate!



Do not lose heart, the worst is almost behind us.”


That message from Indigenisation minister Samuel Mumbengegwi reflects his optimism that government is forging ahead with its empowerment policies. But he cautioned against greed.


“Our business people must be inculcated,” he told the Sunday News, “with a national consciousness that being rich is a national obligation to serve your nation, not yourself.”


It is not clear how the nation’s interests were served during his tenure as Minister for Trade and Industry when, it has been reported, ministers benefited from payments from Zisco which had nothing to do with the business of the parastatal. In fact, it would appear, they got rich by taking money from a publicly-owned company that went down the tubes because it was so badly managed.


Mumbengegwi doesn’t seem to have been asked about that version of indigenisation!



Quite interestingly, Nathaniel Manheru, he of the Other Side, thinks that PW Botha’s death is more important than the National Vision proposed by some of our church leaders. Nobody in Zimbabwe would ever glorify Botha as a hero, but then South Africans have always dealt with their past differently from us. That the likes of Manheru get puzzled doesn’t surprise us because of their obsession with the politics of the colonial past and the quest for vengeance.


That is part of the “bad history we have lived” that has given us Posa in place of the Law and Order (Maintenance) Act. The National Vision document points out clearly the “bad history we must overcome” before we can get the Zimbabwe we want.



Manheru was of course joined by Tafataona Mahoso in exhuming and bringing to the fore the whole burden of history that has become the albatross to national progress.


He can go on admiring the 12 arcane “findings” of his thesis but we don’t see how Zimbabwe is supposed to benefit from that dead weight of history from his equally dead communist friends swept away by the winds of change in 1989.


Commenting on the National Vision document and its authors, Mahoso observed: “They have excluded peasants, war veterans, chiefs, indigenous medicine men and women, indigenous healers, vapostori and former detainees.”


This is even before the document is distributed across the country for “discussion”. So who is feeding Mahoso this nonsense? Then he wants to continue next week along the same poisonous lines. How can we get a balanced analysis from someone who starts by telling readers lies that a document open to discussion has “excluded” people that he is not even in touch with?


All the hypocrites and beneficiaries of Zimbabwe’s festering crisis are beginning to come out of the woodwork for who they really are. You are either for the future or for the past. And Zimbabweans are looking to the future against a “bad history” of the past and present.



Speaking of which, we notice from his contribution in The Voice this week that Mahoso has woken up to the reality that Gideon Gono’s monetarist approach to the so-called economic turnaround is woefully wrong.


“What is even more astounding to a layman is how a policy-maker can seriously claim to be fighting inflation as the country’s enemy number one and yet proceed to devalue and devalue the national currency quite steeply,” wailed Mahoso in shock at this treachery.


We have said in the past that inflation is merely a symptom of a deeper malaise. Which is where we part company with Mahoso because at that point he buries his head in the sand and will not accept that that malaise is a result of a poorly-executed land reform.


So long as there are serious shortages of basic commodities, you can’t tame inflation.


The effects of the wholesale collapse of commercial agriculture are there for all to see and we delude ourselves that these can be solved by tinkering with inflation, interest rates and more devaluation.


Mahoso again appears to have just discovered that the Zimbabwe dollar was devalued from $101 to $250 to the US dollar. Yet everyday he pretends to be speaking on behalf of government. Shame.



Lastly, we were surprised by remarks by a Plumtree magistrate that two Botswana journalists could have strained relations between Botswana and Zimbabwe.


He was fining them $5 000 each for transgressing the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act when illegally taking pictures at a Zimbabwean border post in April. They were working on a documentary for Botswana Television on foot-and-mouth disease and the measures being taken to prevent its spread. They had not applied for a licence under Aippa.


The magistrate told them that as professionals they should have known “the right course of action to take if your intentions were not malicious…” Their actions could have strained relations between Zimbabwe and Botswana, they were told.


The spread of foot-and-mouth disease into Botswana could also strain relations between the two countries, it can be argued. The press in Botswana was evidently fulfilling a public mandate of ensuring that their government was doing its job by preventing the spread of the disease.


Not every journalist is aware of just how draconian and totalitarian Zimbabwe’s media laws are, especially considering that few other states have such “malicious” regulations.


By needlessly arresting the two as they were carrying out their duties, the Zimbabwean authorities will have guaranteed further negative publicity for the country. All the two were doing was filming a foot-and-mouth checkpoint. We can be sure that as a result of Zimbabwe’s officious action, relations with Botswana will have been further strained.


Well done to all concerned. Our neighbours and the wider world should know exactly what a nasty piece of work Aippa really is.

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