Let Mugabe name witches haunting State House

DESPITE spirited denials by government apologists, there is more than just smoke about the state of corruption in the country. This week it was President Mugabe himself, that people like

Nathaniel Manheru are trying to protect, who complained about the “rottenness” at Arda.

The president was told that 400 tractors released by government some 18 months ago had vanished. Brigadier General Douglas Nyikayaramba allegedly told the president that the equipment, which had been put in the custody of Arda, “had been cannibalised” or gone missing.

While the president acknowledged that “Arda yakaora karekare“, this being Zimbabwe, we can be sure nothing will be done. More bark than bite.

We have seen more or less similar occurrences at Zisco where those tasked with fighting corruption are in fact trying their best to make the culprits stay farthest from the famous “wrath of the law”.

Mugabe blamed the corruption on a “get-rich-quick mentality” of which there are plenty opportunities in fuel, a murky tendering processes, scarce basic commodities and now farming implements.

Even as Mugabe spoke, one could tell he was far from providing a solution. Mashonaland Central governor Ephraim Masawi spoke of “confusion” in the allocation of the recently imported farm equipment. He said his office had been asked by the Reserve Bank to compile a list of beneficiaries while Agribank was doing a separate one.

Deputy Youth minister Saviour Kasukuwere weighed in with a proposal that the tractors be given to the District Development Fund.

It’s called the politics of power. If nothing dramatic happens soon, most of that equipment will either vanish or be cannibalised before it gets to the people who desperately need it.

The president also talked about succession. He gets angry once that subject crosses his mind. He said some politicians were consulting spirit mediums to enhance their chances while others had been given snuff to sprinkle at State House so that they could succeed him.

Now that’s what we call witchcraft if it’s true. How do they get to State House undetected? In any case Muckraker reckons it’s time we got some names here. The game is getting really dirty.

Typically, beyond witches, Mugabe chooses to remain enigmatic about the subject. Why the mystery about what should be in the public domain unless he is keen to fuel unnecessary speculation and make witch doctors rich?

Meanwhile, Nathaniel Manheru decided it was time to close the debate on the subject which appears to also anger him but on which he relishes dropping hints of appearing to know a lot.

Writing in his Saturday column in the Herald, Manheru said the land reform had “straitjacketed Zimbabwe’s presidency” and that President Mugabe offered the surest security to the beneficiaries. Those people were beholden to the president and would therefore ensure he stayed on “beyond 2008, much to the chagrin of the British and their tools here”.

Many might have been aware of the machinations in Zanu PF to prolong Mugabe’s rule beyond his legal term next year. However, Manheru’s wistful anxiety betrays the fear of someone with something to hide. It may be more than losing his piece of land once Mugabe leaves.

We hope it’s nothing along the lines of Zisco or the shenanigans at Zupco that have already landed some beneficiaries of state patronage behind bars. Nor does Mugabe himself appear so sure about what might happen to him should he leave the fortress of State House.

Having said that, it is only fair that we restate an immutable law of nature — that every dawn must eventually give way to sunlight and that Manheru’s celebration will one day come to an end.

There was a report in a local daily this week that Home Affairs minister Kembo Mohadi had attacked the judiciary over the release of hard-core criminals from remand prison. He said he was concerned at the “vicious cycle in which notorious armed robbers are arrested by police, placed on remand and granted bail to rejoin the communities they terrorise” in which they commit further crimes.

The paper said Mohadi’s comments were prompted by the release on bail “of more than 100 hard-core criminals” from Harare Central following a tour of the facility by Judge President Rita Makarau. This was part of efforts to decongest the holding facility, it was explained. Since then there had been an upsurge in cases of armed robbery, carjacking and burglary, the paper said.

We found the causal link most curious. Who is responsible for the congestion in remand prison? More importantly, who decides who should be released? Certainly not the judge who wouldn’t tell a murderer or carjacker from a vegetable vendor!

We hear Canadian journalists and tour operators are in the country to sample Zimbabwe’s tourism offerings. The tour, it was reported, is being coordinated by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority and the Zimbabwean embassy in Canada.

ZTA chief executive officer Karikoga Kaseke said the visit was part of “our perception management programme” which is meant “to portray a true picture of Zimbabwe”. Surely, once perception has been “managed” it can no longer be a true portrayal of the situation.

We suspect part of that “management of the perception” will be to ensure that the tourists are provided with abundant fuel while the whole nation runs dry, that they have the best food while Zimbabweans starve and that they are chauffeured along the cleanest avenues while in the townships garbage goes for months uncollected.

But if they are true journalists they will occasionally take off their hosts’ blinkers to see the world and not allow themselves to be used as accomplices in this perception charade.

There was a lot of noise about a similarly fashioned tour by some 17 Russian journalists and business people a few months back so that they could tell the “true story” of Zimbabwe.

After being feted at government’s expense they returned to their cold clime and forgot all about it. The best we saw was a little filler on the leader page of the Herald two weeks ago.

There was a report in Saturday’s Herald that President Mugabe was concerned about unilateral price increases by retailers. He said this was unwarranted as it caused a lot of suffering among the poor.

He however said his government had a solution — “boosting the supply side of basic commodities and putting in place a legal framework that would provide deterrent measures”.

The first is a prerequisite of any government while the second has never been known to work anywhere in the world. It is strange that what is obvious is announced as a discovery and what doesn’t work is prescribed as a miracle cure for problems caused by shortages.

The Voice newspaper carried a sad story this week about one of its lost sons. It was the story of Last “Tambaoga” Chiyangwa who earned himself $200 000 during a show in Harare from Saviour Kasukuwere for his “Blair toilet” tune at the height of the Third Chimurenga.

Now Tambaoga says he is broke he can’t release an album he recorded last year in April. He told The Voice he couldn’t raise $5 million to record the album.

He says he has been everywhere — except the presidency.

“The party and government have tried their best but they have other problems to sort out, they cannot attend to Tambaoga only,” remarked the musician charitably.

“I only have money to buy my cigarettes,” he said.

We were immediately reminded of what Zanu PF does to those who no longer serve its purpose — throw them away like cigarette butts.

But all is not lost yet for Tambaoga. There is the Zanu PF people’s conference next week and another take at Tony Blair might earn him a few Zimdollars in time for Christmas.

In its column “Last week in retrospect” The Voice reported that Metallurgical Corporation of China had put up a US$3 billion bid for a 60% stake in Ziscosteel in an investment deal that was set to bolster productivity at the financially-troubled company. This was despite the fact that the story had been categorically denied the previous week when it was originally reported in the Herald.

Talk of the right hand not knowing what the left is doing. There is no such windfall coming Zisco’s way given the corruption that government is trying in vain to sweep under the capacious carpet.

There was a lot of premature celebration in the media about Finance minister Herbert Murerwa “clipping Gideon Gono’s wings” for his damaging quasi-fiscal activities.

Murerwa said these activities fuelled inflation and made the economic turnaround that much difficult. He said in his budget statement that from now on expenditure would have to come from the national budget.

We held our breath, wondering whether we should prepare ourselves for an epic battle between the minister and the governor given that the Reserve Bank has become a virtual commercial bank with limitless resources.

Before the ink was dry President Mugabe came to our rescue. There is no epic battle of any kind, Murerwa is a dreamer. He told supporters in Lupane in Matabeleland North on Monday that construction of a government office complex had been delayed because of “strict government accounting systems where projects have to wait for budgetary allocations”.

He said as a developing country under sanctions Zimbabwe could “not rely on textbook economics” to meet its agenda.

“We can’t plead the nice bookish way,” he said. “I don’t believe in this nonsensical theory about quasi-fiscal activities,” he said, effectively telling Murerwa to go and hang and Gono to add fuel on the printing press.

But why doesn’t Murerwa quit? He was told as much when he tried to launch new bearer cheques in Gono’s absence. If it’s any consolation to Murerwa, at least the IMF knows where our problems are rooted.

The former George Hotel used to be a place to spend a good Friday, listening to music or dancing. You quaffed a cold brew to your heart’s content if you had a fat wallet. Back then that was not a tall order.

The place has been renovated and houses clients of a different order. One of them is Mweb, the Internet service provider.

For some strange reason the place has changed its name to PaSangano, which sounds close to MuSangano where nothing useful ever happens. Since moving to their new place of abode Mweb have been a disaster. They have even started avoiding answering queries from clients about poor Internet service.

Is it because of the MuSangano culture or have they been sniffing some fermented stuff from the cellars of old George Hotel?

Some nasty things about people are safer said from a distance. Apparently President Mugabe is not immune to fear. He had to travel to far away Mashonaland Central in Musana to complain against sisters who go around making babies that they can’t look after.

“Vazukuru vanouya nevasikana vachizotora mazita edu,” he complained. “Hauchaziva vako veropa chaiwo ndevapi. Mangwana panhaka vachadawo nekuti vanenge vakarerwa pamwe nevana vedu. Tave kukanganisa rudzi.”

Can somebody kindly explain? Somebody said it had something to do with a woman who shares parliament with a son who uses Mugabe’s surname and now wants to take the crown from Robert Jr.

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