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Editor’s Memo

Who’s a hero?

By Vincent Kahiya

FOR too long physical appearance and political prowess have been used to identify a hero. For too long it has been inculcated in us that the outside fa

cade rules over inner self. For too long we have been made to feel guilty for not trying to emulate these false heroes.

So what constitutes a hero? In a word, it’s integrity, which is the sum of convictions, and how hard one tries to live by them. Of course, a correct conviction has to abide by some fundamental laws of nature, like others’ right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

This week Information minister and President Mugabe’s megaphone Jonathan Moyo made a key disclosure on why the government needs to control our minds through the electronic media. Addressing Chinese and local army officers, Moyo said there should be 100% local content in the electronic media because the country now had a generation of born frees who in essence were American and British.

“Local content makes local aspirations our backdrops. It allows us to celebrate our heroes. Why is it okay to hero-worship (George) Washington of the USA and not President Mugabe?” he asked.

“We are not happy with anyone who wants foreign content in our local media. The reality is that it should be 100% local content and those who want foreign content should pay,” said Moyo.

That is the Moyo law of patriotism.

Do not look beyond the borders for heroes. All other heroes should be blacked out – we know that to be the justification for 100% local content programming. The ultimate hero for Zimbabweans must be RG. Why does Moyo believe that his control of media content will ultimately control our passions, tastes and even our heroes? Does he believe that the whole country should join him in the time warp of men prepared only for subservience in the quest to secure a guaranteed position at the feeding trough?

Moyo was at Roosevelt School last week where he donated $1,7 million to the school after pupils “successfully sang” the propaganda jingle, Hondo Yeminda. Pupils are expected to fall to their knees before lowly shrines all in praise of a festering system. Compare this with the slogan taught at Nazi day nurseries: “Fuhrer, my Fuhrer, my faith, my light”! We are not heading in this direction, are we?

Have our hero-in-Mugabe-builders been soaking in this Third Reich deputy fuhrer Rudolf Hess classic? “With pride we see that one man remains beyond all criticism, that is the Fuhrer. This is because everyone feels and knows: he is always right, and he will always be right.”

But heroes are not necessarily those whose exploits and perceived infallibility is celebrated in song and dance and foisted on the populace. Sensible people choosing heroes go beyond that.

Heroes should not be cruel, manipulative and blackmail followers through positions of power. A true hero is not infallible. He makes mistakes. People choosing heroes know that there is no hero without holes.

They know that if there are too many of those holes for their liking, they can walk right through them and away. No amount of propaganda and threats can stop them.

Mozambican president Joaquim Chissano this week embarked on a roundtrip to his country’s eleven provinces to bid farewell to the 19 million people who live there. He will be stepping down in December after elections to choose a new president.

The whirlwind tour, dubbed “Don’t cry for me, Mozambique”, is also aimed at giving his chosen successor, businessman Armando Guebuza, badly needed electoral exposure.

The 64-year-old leader took over power in 1986 following the death of founding president Samora Machel in a plane crash. For the next six years, Chissano, with the help of Zimbabwean troops, fought a bitter war with Afonso Dhlakama’s Renamo rebels until a Rome-brokered accord ended the civil war. Renamo became the official opposition in Mozambique.

In the polls scheduled for December Dhlakama, political watchers in Mozambique say, stands a fair chance of winning as he is far more popular than Guebuza.

President Chissano last year freely announced he would not seek a third presidential term even though the Mozambican constitution did not oblige him to stand down. Chissano has said his stepping down is meant to strengthen democratic institutions in the country and Mozambique’s international credibility as a democracy.

Recent municipal polls in Mozambique have been hailed by the international community as free and fair. Renamo disagrees with foreign reports regarding President Chissano’s democratic record and Dhlakama still maintains that the 1999 presidential poll, which he officially lost to Chissano, was marred by irregularities.

Mozambican authorities, highly dependent on foreign goodwill and funds, are nevertheless believed to be doing their best to organise free and fair polls in December.

Chissano has however always insisted that the electoral reform process in his country should be acceptable to the opposition. That is nation-building. Chissano is a hero.

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