Muckraker

The Warriors farce and the fury

‘Living in Harare a nightmare,” ran the headline of the Herald Comment on Saturday. The editorial was not about expensive rentals or muggings. It was about poor service delivery by the council.



=left>“Nothing just seems to be working — from provision of water, lighting, maintenance of roads and other services which council is obliged to render to its residents,” ran the Comment.

That is the reality we have come to expect. Where we differ with the Herald is the source of our problems.


“There seems to be a determination to destroy the capital city — and no one should blame political interference in these matters,” came the lame defence.


One cannot fail to sense that the editor is fighting his own conscience to defend the indefensible. Surely there would be no need to defend politicians if there were no political interference. Why has Ignatious Chombo made himself the unelected mayor of Harare? Why have MDC councillors been denied the right to run the affairs of Harare as mandated by voters? Why were they denied the right to consult with ratepayers that they serve?

What is Witness Mangwende doing? Does Pikirayi Deketeke seriously believe defending his political masters is more important than addressing the concerns of ratepayers and laying the blame squarely where it belongs — at Chombo’s door?


Meanwhile, what is Chombo doing about the chaos going on at Whitecliffe farm that has become an eyesore to every visitor driving from Bulawayo into the capital city? Is he unaware of who is in charge of the latest shanty town along High Glen Road near Marimba police station? We are talking about squatter settlements mushrooming all over the city with no sanitary facilities whatsoever. Will the sun ever rise again over the Sunshine City?

In its lead story on Monday the Herald said the Harare city council had been allowed to borrow about $49 billion for water and infrastructural development. But the figures quickly mutated beyond control.


Part of the letter supposedly signed by Local Government minister Chombo said Harare had been allowed “to raise $48 570 215 billion (sic) from the domestic market”. The paper said “$2 339 000 billion (sic) would be used for the construction of an 18-megalitre/day BNR plant and expansion of existing capacity at Crowborough sewage works”.

Can somebody help with interpreting those figures. Does Zimbabwe have that kind of money in the first place?


We were interested to read about how blind Zimbabweans were until the Malaysians came to our rescue. President Robert Mugabe told students at Moleli Secondary School in Zvimba on Sunday that it had taken government a very long time to realise there was corruption in the financial sector because previous management at the RBZ were victims of Western economics. As such they didn’t know what was happening in the financial sector, Mugabe disclosed.


To get to the bottom of the crisis, said the president, he had to take new Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono to Malaysia “so that he could learn how” that country had pulled out of a similar crisis.

They were shocked by what they discovered after their magical trip to the East, Mugabe confessed. Meanwhile, we all along thought Gono was his own man doing his own diagnosis about the nation’s multifaceted crisis. But it turned out to be Mahathir? And in Zimbabwe’s case who was the evil George Soros spearheading speculative attacks on our currency? Tony Blair, we presume.


Still on corruption, how is Mugabe going to explain the award of fuel import licences to so-called non-existent companies?


The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe revealed last week that enough foreign currency had been made available for companies to import fuel. But by last weekend most garages were virtually dry. It turned out that most of the more than 70 companies who were getting foreign currency to import fuel didn’t have physical addresses or distribution networks. The question to ask is how were they issued with licences? Are these not clear symptoms of corrupt activities?


Now Zanu PF’s own mouthpiece, The Voice, claims much of the foreign currency sourced from the Reserve Bank’s auction system could have been used to trade on the black market to purchase luxury vehicles or to buy properties. We assumed since it was so soon after the debacle of dubious asset management companies the RBZ and its parent ministry would be more circumspect in issuing licences for purposes of accountability!


Shouldn’t Mugabe be taking Gono back to Malaysia for more learning? And some of those briefcase companies are advertising fuel in the public media everyday. There is certainly something bigger than the RBZ wants us to believe here.

Zanu PF chairman John Nkomo seems to have hit the nail on the head in his diagnosis of the source of Zimbabwe’s problems. This is what he said in his weekly column in The Voice on Sunday: “A functioning economy is a handy tool of politics. However, our situation requires that we turn our politics into tools for the revival of the economy. Placing sole responsibility for economic recovery on the central bank would not only be irresponsible but dishonest.”


How come everybody else in Zanu PF appears in public to foolishly believe the Mugabe mantra that there is nothing wrong with our politics; that Gono will single-handedly solve all our problems or that China will revive our economy alone? Is this some form of epiphany that could result in the party being more “responsible” and less “dishonest”, we wonder?


Spare a thought for newly sworn-in member of the Delimitation Commission, Job Whabira. The former Defence permanent secretary on Tuesday looked like a jester plucked from a circus for the ceremony at the president’s palace, if his dressing on Newsnet is anything to go by.


Muckraker’s colleagues reckon Whabira, shown on ZTV clad in a “specially designed” scarlet suit, would have made Jojo the Clown green with envy if he had remembered to wear the clown’s big red nose. He could have done with a pair of earrings and a pony tail too!


Then there was another clown called Goodson Nguni who thinks Britain is the MDC. Asked by Cleo Tsimba whether the MDC might change its mind and participate in next year’s election, Nguni said that decision would come from the UK in December. He said the MDC had no mandate to make a decision outside of Tony Blair. Never mind that the MDC made it clear its decision on whether to take part or not would depend on whether government had met to the full the Sadc guidelines and principles on the holding of free and fair elections.


Newsnet should make a distinction between analysts and clowns. It has not talked to a single analyst since Jonathan Moyo took over the reins four years ago.


The Soviets who run the so-called Sunday News, which never manages to publish any news worth reading but carries letters from people signing themselves “J Stalin”, have been incandescent with rage over the Warriors’ failure to fulfil the state plan assigned to them.


On the day of the fateful World Cup qualifier nearly two weeks ago, the paper produced a Comment confidently claiming the Super Eagles would “crash this afternoon in Harare”.


The Warriors’ impending victory was all part of a momentum built up by Kirsty Coventry, we were told.
“Coventry’s achievement underlined Zimbabwe’s new status as a growing force in the world of sport and no doubt all roads lead to the National Stadium today amid huge national optimism that head coach Rahman Gumbo will lead his troops to victory,” the paper declared.


Alas, it was not to be. And hell had no fury like a state illusionist scorned.


“It just will not be enough for Warriors team manager Rafiq Adam to resign,” another Uncle Joe given to purges fulminated last weekend. “And it will not be enough to fire the hopeless coaches Rahman Gumbo and Brenna Msiska.


“Even firing the team captain Peter Ndlovu, which is now inevitable, will not be enough. Heads must roll and the whole Zifa lot must be shown the door…When all is said and done, Zifa failed the nation.”


Was it Zifa that failed the nation or ministerial puppets trying to get us to believe that political meddling in football and reaping where they failed to sow in swimming has led to Zimbabwe becoming a “growing force” in the world of sport? More a growing farce!


We had a similar performance last weekend from Sunday News editor Brezhnev Malaba who reported Pravda-style from Victoria Falls on the launch of the Southern Times.


“Western media propagandists and the unrepentant apartheid press will no longer enjoy a monopoly in the dissemination of information in Southern Africa, the people of the region have boldly declared.”
But it didn’t end there.

“The people of Africa have spoken,” Brezhnev proclaimed. “The era of racist hate and discredited falsehoods is long gone.”


Any reader turning to Uncle Joe’s column may think that forecast was a little premature. And we admired the way “the people of the region” — ie all five buyers of the threadbare new publication — had been transformed into “the people of Africa” in the space of a sentence!


The “apartheid press” had failed in its “silly attempts” to scupper the project, we were told by Cde Brezhnev. But we don’t recall any attempts to block this self-defeating project to launch yet another dreary Moyo mouthpiece.
 
What we do recall is the black-run Sunday Times saying the new publication couldn’t use their name. And they seem to have won their point.


But imperialists, colonialists and apartheid-pressers should not relax. Inspired by what Brezhnev describes as “assertive Africans trodding (sic) on the repugnant history of colonial oppression”, a new project is being hatched, we are led to understand. Victoria Falls will soon be renamed the Victory Falls to mark the people’s victory over colonial oppression.


Now that should be just the tonic the tourism sector needs.

Keep up the “trodding” guys!

The Chronicle last Friday dutifully carried a front-page picture of Information minister Jonathan Moyo handing over three computers worth $69,4 million to Avoca High School Lower Sixth pupils in Godlwayo.

What we don’t understand is why these computers cost so much in the first place. A quick reference to the Herald’s classifieds for the same day tells us that the most expensive models on offer range from $8,5 million to $12,5 million. A top-of-the-range laptop goes for $9,5 million.

While we appreciate the Chronicle is obliged to engage in embellishment from time to time, especially when promoting the minister’s election bid, it cannot be unaware of the going price for equipment of this sort.


At one time, despite all the manipulation that took place elsewhere in the Herald, it was possible to trust their court reports. That hasn’t been the case for a while now.


A good illustration was available on Saturday following Friday’s sentencing of Simon Mann and his “mercenary” associates. Most of the report was accurate and provided useful detail. But then this sentence was smuggled in: “The men were arrested and the plane seized in March when the terror squad landed in Harare to buy arms on their way to take part in a coup in Equatorial Guinea.”

Is that what they were convicted of: being part of a “terror squad” planning to “take part in a coup in Equatorial Guinea”? Weren’t those charges the state failed to prove?


We recall most of them pleading guilty to offences under the Immigration and Aviation Acts, and Mann being sentenced under Posa for arms-related offences. But the Equatorial Guinea connection was never proved.


The Herald claimed on Wednesday that the plane the men arrived on, which was impounded, was carrying a consignment of AK47 assault rifles, KPM light machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and anti-tank weapons among other items.

Was this established in court? Had the weapons been loaded aboard the plane?


While it is all too easy for the press to reach conclusions about what the suspected mercenaries may have been up to, drawing on damning reports from Malabo and Cape Town, is it right for newspapers in their court reports to convict them of offences they were not actually convicted of in court?

At the end of the day, the state did achieve one thing. It has acquired an aircraft worth between US$3 million and $5 million at no charge.


Could we soon see the Boeing 727 ferrying passengers on AirZim’s Beijing route or decked out as Zimbabwe’s Airforce One?

Together with the US$180 000 taken off the plane, it would seem as if Zimbabwe is not doing too badly from its encounter with the “dogs of war”!


Parastatals have a key role to play in the economic turnaround process, Zimra boss Gershem Pasi believes.


“Our overall performance and contribution to the nation’s economy has not always been consistent and sustained.”


That’s putting it mildly. These parasitic institutions have been centres of economic destabilisation. Now they will be miraculously “turned around” despite having the same old crew on board.

Minister of State responsible for state enterprises Rugare Gumbo said parastatals should formulate “guidelines and principles” on how they should be run.


Evidently nobody had thought of this before. And nobody has thought of the obvious solution to the current mess at AirZim, Noczim, NRZ, Zesa, Zisco and Zupco: get rid of them and all their hangers on!

Gumbo had a solution: another workshop! “We want to come up with a home-brewed strategy,” he said.

Rugare: Why not a strategy that has worked everywhere else in the world rather than one that has failed here? It’s a no brainer.


Muckraker was intrigued to read comments made by new ANC Youth League president Fikile Mbalula, published in the Sunday Times last weekend.

He was asked if he took President Robert Mugabe’s line that problems in Zimbabwe were all Britain’s fault.


“The politics of Zimbabwe…are about primarily issues of democracy. And the willingness of the ruling Zanu PF party to engage its opponents,” he replied.

Asked if he had been listening to Archbishop Pius Ncube, he said: “Yes. He gives an account of the material conditions they find themselves in. It is basically objective.”


Although Mbalula insisted that Zimbabweans must find a solution to their own problems and Britain should play its part in providing compensation for land, this was not exactly the message of solidarity some may have hoped for. Indeed, when foreign dignitaries were asked at the Youth League congress to stand and identify themselves, cheers for the Zanu PF delegate turned to laughter, reports say, when it was seen how old he was!