Muckraker

We know who is a mafikizolo


THE Zimbabwe Independent appears to have caused some discomfort to the Munhumutapa Building Big-Head over its story that the MDC will be afforded access to the public media in line with commitments made by Presid

ent Robert Mugabe in Mauritius last month.


We reported Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa as saying ZBH would soon start allocating political parties airtime in accordance with the Sadc requirement that all participants in elections have equal access to the public media.


This led to an eruption in the propaganda ministry with much fist-waving that appeared as much directed against Chinamasa as the Independent.


“If there’s such an order it must have been made by Tony Blair and is therefore null and void,” Big-Head declared with palpable anger.


Chinamasa could not lawfully make such an order, we were lectured. He merely repeated the legal position contained in the Broadcasting Services Act that political parties have reasonable access to the public media.


“Never” would Blair be given access to the media, we were firmly told.


This sounded very much like giving a dog a name and beating it. Are parties to be denied media space on the grounds that Zanu PF has childishly labelled them pro-this or anti-that?


What was significant for us was the reference to Chinamasa being the predictable source of “this inane story”. The accusation reminded us of the official fury that followed our interview with Vice-President Joseph Msika who referred to “immoral little boys” involved in the Kondozi seizure.


John Nkomo has also faced similar attacks from the same overweening source.


On this occasion we are accused of stealing the story from the public media. Lifting the story from Newsnet and making it a front-page story was “a first in the history of desktop journalism in Zimbabwe”, we were told.


In fact our reporter spoke to Chinamasa on Wednesday evening. Our story was based on his remarks to us, not something he might have said on TV. The frenzied denials coming from ZBH this week suggest the Mauritius terms are by no means settled government policy. And guess who’s trying to block them?


Uncle Joe Stalin’s column in Moyo’s tired megaphone, the Soviet Sunday News, misses no opportunity to hurl abuse at the Independent. But just in case readers have difficulty wading through the juvenile name-calling that is lifted word-for-word from similar columns in the Herald and Sunday Mail, they are treated to a repetition of the invective in a column headed “Goings On”.


The columnist, it would appear, spends much of his working day hanging around on Bulawayo street corners monitoring sales of the Independent. He then proceeds to insult even those declining to buy it.


An elderly white man who, we are led to believe, declared there was “no story there” regarding our headline on opposition access to the public media last Friday, was described as having a face that “seemed to narrate the tale of an Alfred Hitchcock mystery”.


The author doesn’t tell us which tale, but given his master’s rantings, we can safely assume he is referring to Psycho.


From this insight, the loitering columnist was able to report that “even the remnants of our hated colonial past now find it useless to read Blair’s toilet paper”.


What we don’t understand is why the writer chose to ignore his editor’s own story in the “Goings On” column? That was a real Hitchcockian tale of skulduggery and drama along Gwanda Road. It contained all the inventiveness we have come to associate with state-owned Bulawayo papers. But for some reason the so-called Sunday News omitted it.


It was so busy attacking the Independent for carrying what it claimed were false reports that it missed the charge of false reporting going on right under its nose!


And we were interested to note that the wildly inaccurate and no longer used figures of 300 000 resettled A1 farmers and 54 000 A2 farmers that the propaganda department had been hawking prior to the Utete Report have resurfaced from the paper’s Special Projects Editor.


Let’s hope “special projects” don’t include smuggling such discredited statistics into Bulawayo papers!


What under-employed Sunday News reporters could usefully be doing when hanging around on street corners is monitoring sales of The Southern Times. After all, this is a paper that shares their bankrupt ideology. And it claims to have a regional dimension.


Last weekend this comprised a front-page story on child soldiers in the DRC, an interview with Sam Nujoma about his dream for a United States of Africa, a huge feature on elephants (and why they must be shot) and remarks by Jonathan Moyo on the “need for region to tell its own story”.


On the editorial page was an article headed “Mugabe indeed one of the greatest Africans of all time”.


So the people who sponsor this achingly dull, utterly predictable publication, which actually makes the Sunday News look interesting, have been devoting acres of space to rubbishing the Independent while doing nothing to improve their own product.


And regional “allies” are unlikely to be impressed with barbs of this sort from Southern Times writers: “While other African leaders — including those enjoying celebrity status for perceived heroism — sit on time bombs by ignoring the land question in their countries, Mugabe will go down in story and song as one of the bravest sons of Africa.”


What song might that be: “Old Sabina had a farm…”?


We found the advertising content significant. There were two ads from Namibia, one being the Namibian Ministry of Finance. The rest were from Wankie Colliery, Native Investments Africa Group (including a picture of the shoes that once served as wages) and PaxAfro.


Better-informed readers will quickly get the Wankie (Chimanimani) connection. And our theory about Philip Chiyangwa being roped into Big-Head’s self-aggrandising project has now been confirmed. But the paper will have to do better than this if it’s to sell.


Instead of burning the midnight oil trying to think up Form II “jokes” like “British Satanic Apartheid Press” (yes, seriously, that’s the best they can do and they evidently haven’t said to their readers: “Stop me if you’ve heard it”!), the sponsors of this latest misuse of public funds need to devote more time to making their own “special projects” more interesting.


Last week Muckraker expressed dismay at political comment being smuggled into the Herald’s court reports. There was another shocking example this week when something was tacked on to a report headed “Judgement date for Tsvangirai set”. At the end, the court reporter managed to squeeze this in: “President Mugabe won the election after defeating Tsvangirai with a wide margin, but the opposition leader and the party’s Western allies have refused to accept the results, claiming the poll was rigged. But the election was hailed as free and fair by observers from most African countries, the Third World, and those from Russia and China.”


In a court report!


Don’t we recall those involved in setting up the Media and Information Commission claiming it would uphold professional standards in the media?


Gideon Gono told the parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Budget, Finance and Economic Development this week that “some stakeholders wanted the central bank to implement policies that were well-documented in academic books written by economists but this was not possible as the RBZ had resolved to apply home-grown policies to turn around the economy”.


This is nonsense of course and he knows it. Which home-grown policies can he name that have succeeded? What happened to Nerp, Merp and Vision 2020? Were they not home-grown?


What we want are policies that work. Gono certainly won’t find them from his friends in Zanu PF. Perhaps he should start reading some books.


He referred to China “where the economy was growing tremendously because of the application of home-grown policies”.


In fact China’s economy is booming precisely because it has abandoned the policies that Zimbabwe’s leadership is still clinging to.


Gono should stop playing to the political gallery and tell it straight. We are not going to turn around anything until we have turned out those who, having devastated commercial agriculture and started fighting among themselves over the spoils, are now setting their sights on plundering the mining sector!


Someone should help Lowani Ndlovu. He is livid about the speck in UN secretary-general Kofi Annan’s eye but blind to the log in his own. Annan’s crime was that he, according to Lowani, belatedly declared illegal the British and American invasion of Iraq.


Muckraker will not bother debating the illegality or otherwise of the Iraqi invasion. Nor respond to the silly suggestion that the Zimbabwe Independent should have made Annan’s comments our lead story last week.


But to claim that Annan’s silence was “unAfrican” is most strange to say the least. That criminal African silence has been the bane of the continent for years. That is why we had disasters like the famine in Ethiopia in 1984 that killed millions. It was only exposed by Western media when it was already too late.


Let Lowani not tell us nobody knew about it. We nearly had a similar disaster here a few years back when Agriculture minister Joseph Made claimed the country had a “bumper harvest” when in fact there was a serious cereal deficit.


It was the same criminal African silence that allowed the genocide in Rwanda to happen in 1994. Radio stations and other state-owned media were allowed to spread hate propaganda the same way state media in Zimbabwe were encouraged to publish editorials like “Hit them hard” when the government was carrying out genocide in Matabeleland and the Midlands in the 1980s.


Over 20 000 people were killed in what President Mugabe now admits was “an act of madness that should not be repeated” yet when it happened between 1983 and 1987 the likes of Lowani were silent about the wanton massacre of civilians.


They were equally complicit in the violence that preceded the parliamentary election in 2000 and the presidential poll in 2002. While the rest of the country was low on food they were not ashamed to go shopping in South Africa. What a true African story!


It is the same criminal silence that has seen the likes of Archbishop Pius Ncube being subjected to weekly attacks in the public media for questioning government figures on the food situation in the country. If Ncube hasn’t got precise figures for those starving etc, it is in part because the government itself is secretive about the truth. That is if it has any figures at all. Ncube has also condemned the abuse of youths by politicians while pretenders to the faith claim Mugabe was sent by God to serve Zimbabwe.


Incidentally, while Lowani was wasting space telling us how touched he was by what’s going on in Iraq, he didn’t say a word about the lead story in the same Sunday Mail in which a senior government minister is being investigated by the police for causing havoc in Makoni North. Police want to find out Hurricane Didymus’s role in what commissioner Augustine Chihuri last week described as the use of youths by politicians “as canon fodder”. How hypocritical can one get?


Talking of hypocrisy, Lowani reserved his bitterest attack for US secretary of state Colin Powell who has refused to indulge Lowani’s fancy by ignoring his taunts for America to invade Zimbabwe. Lowani says Powell should not seek to avert the imminent tragedy in Sudan’s Darfur region because he didn’t stop the Iraq invasion. What Powell sees in Sudan, says Lowani, he should have seen in Iraq.


“The brutalised human beings in Iraq are not different from the brutalised human beings in Sudan. Human beings are human beings wherever they are found,” declares Lowani, trying to make a very banal truism sound like some profound discovery. But that is not the most criminal part of Lowani’s mentality. The tragedy is his insinuation that nothing should be done to stop the unfolding disaster in Darfur because nothing was done to stop the Iraq invasion. That notwithstanding the fact that many countries opposed that invasion.


In short he wants another genocide in Sudan so that he has more ammunition to hurl at Annan. It’s another plea for unAfrican silence from Lowani in Darfur! What are some one million black Africans worth, his warped logic suggests, compared to a few Arab fanatics slaughtering each other daily in the name of killing Bush? When some 800 000 black Africans slaughtered each other in Rwanda did the Organisation of African Unity do anything? Why should the African Union act differently in Darfur?


According to Lowani Africans are wastable, never mind the numbers. The duty of humanity is to protect Arab oil from Western plunder. Sudan’s Janjaweed militia are the untouchables, Lowani’s answer to American hegemony!


But we did enjoy the attempt by Lowani to deflect attention by pretending mafikizolo now refers to Tony Blair and George Bush. No, that won’t wash. We use the term advisedly to describe those who want to cry louder than the grieved, those who want to sound more Zanu PF than its founders, those who looted more than one farm and won’t heed the president’s exhortation to surrender the extra land. It’s that simple.


Readers may recall that last week we mentioned one Goodson Nguni whom we said could not differentiate between the MDC and Tony Blair. Now a reader has responded by letting it be known that Nguni is in fact a fugitive from justice in South Africa where he allegedly defrauded the SA post office where he worked.


The reader says they witnessed SA’s top investigations agency, the Scorpions, attach Nguni’s property at his home in East London just after he fled to Zimbabwe. His helpless wife or girlfriend had to hand over keys to a Mercedes-Benz bought by the proceeds of Nguni’s alleged scam, the reader says.


Then the scorcher: “He (Nguni) now seeks the protection of Robert Mugabe’s regime by pretending to be its vociferous supporter.”


He is not alone in that. He has seen the trick working before! Another mafikizolo joins camp.


Under the Surface this week described the MDC official in Murehwa, Peace Banza, as “stubborn” because he had defied the party’s orders not to participate in a local council election. “He is causing untold headaches to his embattled party,” Cde Under enthused as he sank under a personal illusion. “He has defied his party’s ill-advised decision not to participate in any election and it looks like he won’t be budging.”


This was despite registrar-general Tobaiwa Mudede placing an ad in the Herald last week to announce that Peace Banza had withdrawn his candidacy.


It’s bad enough to mix journalism and propaganda. It’s worse when you are also blind. Cde Under would not let facts get in the way of his theory of a party divided against itself. This theory has failed to work with Job Sikhala in St Mary’s. But that doesn’t stop Cde Under plugging away at it every week.


Finally, as we are often accused of saying nothing positive about President Mugabe and his government, we will let those who see light at the end of the tunnel have the last word. This appeared in the Sunday Mail last weekend:


“The country’s economy, which has been on a recovery path since the beginning of the year and whose improvement has received applause from several international economic institutions, is set for a major boost before the end of the year as the Ministry of Industry and International Trade has started inviting applications for the $200 billion Industry Revival Fund.”


So you see, it’s all going to be OK!