How could you be so ignorant Mutasa?

MOST Zimbabweans would have been profoundly unimpressed by the theatrical performance of a group of Christian ministers apologising for crimes committed during the slave trad

e. They should apologise for their gullibility and playing into the partisan hands of their hosts.

Why did they not apologise for the role of West African warlords who sold their captives into slavery? And what of Arab slave traders who depopulated the East African coast including Mozambique?

Luckily former President Joaquim Chissano picked up on these obvious omissions when he said: “I wish I had the mandate to ask for forgiveness as well because most of the sins committed by Europeans were not committed by them alone.”

None of the European Christian “leaders” who took part in this charade are household names which suggests their mandate was less than comprehensive. Who exactly are Roger Mitchell and Chris Seaton? Had anybody heard of them before last week?

While Chissano complained that Africa’s critics were pointing to bad governance and corruption as the reasons for the continent’s backwardness, there will understandably be doubts about a movement that seeks to sweep these things under the carpet while focusing our attention on something that happened in 1884. Britons did indeed cheat King Lobengula then, but who is cheating Zimbabweans now?

Mitchell and Seaton fall into the same category as Obi Egbuna whose copy looks exactly as if it had been written in the President’s Office. Having run out of local propagandists, Zanu PF is now importing them. Our question is: Who is paying “pan-Africanists” like Egbuna to tell Zimbabweans what to think about events in their own country?

In this same context state propagandists, having received their marching orders for the week, persist with the now threadbare claim that Kofi Annan said he wants to see sanctions against Zimbabwe scrapped.

This is one of several fictions being propagated in the state media surrounding Annan’s talks with President Mugabe in Banjul. Why doesn’t somebody at the Herald call Annan’s office in New York and ask him whether he said that? It could be enlightening.

We were interested to see Didymus Mutasa’s comments on the presidential succession debate. Contrary to reports that the ruling party was reluctant to discuss the issue, they were in fact talking about it, but only in places “where the press will not be”. The debate was “hot, hot, hot”, Mutasa confessed. And in a particularly revealing remark he said that while some saw Joice Mujuru as the successor, others were proposing different names.

“I am not necessarily saying the position of those who think Amai Mujuru is the successor is the correct one, or that is what will happen, but that is how the discussion is taking place,” he said.

We think he may have said too much!

Meanwhile, we have our own question for Mutasa: As you aspire to high office yourself, how could you be so ignorant as to suppose you can sue a public prosecutor for remarks made in court and a newspaper for publishing those remarks? But you were dead right in predicting that no prosecution against Patrick Chinamasa would ever stick. How did you know?

We would have loved the state media to say it. They didn’t, so we will have to say that Zimbabwe scored another first last week when it elevated its traditional healers to the level of professional medical doctors.

From the little knowledge we have of these people, they operate from their homes, are very poor and claim to be guided by their ancestors on what leaves or roots cure what ailment. They have no formal training of any sort except their own personal claims to what they know.

Last week Deputy Health minister Edwin Muguti announced that these traditional medical practitioners would now be allowed to prescribe off days for their patients.

Even stranger than fiction, Dr Muguti said a patient could tell his medical doctor that he wanted to consult a traditional healer if there was no improvement in his condition.

“The medical doctor should even be in a position to refer their patients to the n’anga and muporofita (faith healer) when they realise that there is nothing new they can offer them,” Muguti advised.

He gave Aids, BP and asthma, which he said had no cure, as examples of why medical doctors were no better equipped than witchdoctors whose arcane practices can only be revealed to a select few by benevolent dead ancestors.

This in a way endorses dangerous claims by a lot of mountebanks who say they can cure Aids. Some have told their patients to rape infants as a prescription to cure Aids while a couple of faith healers are serving time in prison after they raped their patients as a form of treatment for various ailments.

It really doesn’t matter that the so-called traditional medical practitioners are registered or not, this is a clear admission of institutional failure by a government that has forced most of the skilled workers and professionals into the diaspora. Desperate poor people who can’t afford private doctors are therefore being given false hope that they can have their problems solved by hungry crooks with no certificate of competence in any known field of human endeavour. Is there no end to this government’s bag of tricks?

Curiously, will these voodoo medical practitioners accept our medical aid society cards as payment or do we need a new family of cards administered by a new council? We shudder to think of ambulances rushing to vleis and kopjes to deposit patients at open air “surgeries”.

We thought there was enough circus coming out of South Africa with Health minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang vending her garlic and beetroot as Aids cures. She evidently has her admirers in Zimbabwe.

With the shambles at the Ministry of Health, it is not surprising that ambulances have been turned into kombis. Could Muguti tell Muckraker why the driver of ambulance GHCW 0642 was collecting money from about a dozen “patients” emerging from the critical care vehicle at Mbare Musika on Wednesday.

Muckraker would like to apologise for getting Muguti’s name wrong last week. A typographical error crept in and we ended up with Muvuti. Which is definitely not healthy!

A sign spotted outside a Moscow bar recently: “All day happy hour. Pay two, get one.”

We can’t help but feel these Russkies still haven’t quite grasped the rudiments of capitalism!

Meanwhile, is it true Zanu PF has a secret committee with the mandate to cause maximum disruption to people’s lives? You can imagine the scene: “Comrades, what can we do this week to keep the nation on its toes? Why don’t we change the number plates again so everybody will be thoroughly inconvenienced? And let’s make sure our own companies benefit with exclusive contracts.”

“What about the new bearer cheques. Can’t we phase them out with only 24 hours notice and bring in new notes? That should see the populace jumping. Christmas would be a good time.”

“And what about Operation Murambatsvina? Isn’t it time we conducted another sweep through the MDC townships? There are reports people are returning to their old sites.”

“Newspaper vendors must definitely be taxed. That will hurt our enemies in the press. And provide new revenue flows.”

If anybody had any remaining doubts about the bona fides of the Human Rights Commission the government proposes to set up, those doubts will have been confirmed by an article in the Herald of August 4 by Susan Chipanga. She makes it abundantly clear that the task of this new body will be to “rein in” NGOs. These organisations have been falsifying Zimbabwe’s human rights record, Chipanga claims, drawing on statements by Patrick Chinamasa.

“The damage inflicted by such fabricated reports has been immeasurable,” she says. Investors and tourists might think there was anarchy in the country.

And what of the cases that the state has not contested such as those involving Gabriel Shumba and Tonderayi Macharidza? Were they fabricated? What of Joseph Mwale’s record? What can Chipanga tell us about his whereabouts?

Nothing could be more damaging to a country’s reputation than the impression that law enforcement agencies literally get away with murder. As bad as this is the view that gullible journalists betray their profession and serve the state by masking its record of misrule.

Something that fascinates us about government newspapers is that one of them will state something as fact and the rest will blindly follow.

Last week there was a reference in the Herald to Bilateral Investment Protection Agreements which it called Bipas. The rest of the pack followed without looking to see whether these were not in fact Bippas, Bilateral Protection and Promotion Agreements. Will somebody please clarify.

We were interested to read about Zanu PF’s Information secretary Nathan Shamuyarira urging journalists to have a “clear ideological position” for them to be consistent on matters of principle. He said lack of an ideological position was responsible for a lot of confusion among reporters.

Zanu PF, he told a publicity workshop in Kadoma, had won the war against colonialism because of a clear ideology among cadres.

We understand that ideology to have been informed by Marxism-Leninism but wonder if his party is still keen on the spirit of selflessness and personal sacrifice for one’s country.

Going by the charges of corruption and malfeasance in the political leadership, we doubt if that is what the party’s ideology was about.

We also liked Shamuyarira’s observation that the nation could “only benefit and develop in the right direction” if journalists discharged their duty with “honesty and integrity”.

That should include telling each other the truth about the causes of our national malaise instead of trying to find non-existent scapegoats in foreign lands as practised in the official media. Telling lies about Tony Blair or what Annan pledged to do for Zimbabwe is unlikely to lead the nation in the right direction. We are busy fooling ourselves and hoping that by some quirk of nature our problems will vanish just because we choose to call them challenges.

It is interesting that only mandarins obsessed with thought control found any merit in the Interception of Communications Bill. During a public hearing last week, a fervent supporter of the Bill was Tafataona Mahoso who said the law was necessary to counter espionage and terrorism in the global village “because we are under surveillance all the time”.

He didn’t say who had put him under surveillance and how that necessitated putting every Zimbabwean under the daily observation of the nation’s securocrats. The Bill was attacked for vesting too much power in the minister who is given carte blanche to decide who to put under surveillance without any legal oversight by the courts.

It’s patently ridiculous that an aggrieved party can only seek redress from the same minister who is persecuting him. It replicates the same totalitarian Big Brother mentality in Aippa where an aggrieved party can only appeal to the same minister who has denied him information in the first place. Why does a mere minister need to exercise so much power over the daily lives of ordinary citizens?

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