Predators jump onto Chinamasa’s turf

SO, the c

at is well and truly out of the bag: Paul Mangwana is to be the next Attorney-General. And he owes his appointment to the Herald’s unelected columnist, Nathaniel Manheru. Or at least it would seem so.

Manheru was so incensed by our story last week that other big fish in Zanu PF, indeed individuals named as likely successors to President Mugabe, may be opposed to Mangwana’s candidacy that he rushed into print the following day to announce Mangwana’s appointment.

“…all informed people know that Paul Mangwana is certain to land the position unless something goes horribly wrong,” he declared, thus usurping the role of the Minister of Justice.

Patrick Chinamasa has proved in the past to be a willing instrument of his injudicious colleague. Which is why Aippa ran into such difficulties in the courts. But allowing Manheru to abuse his role as a columnist to make announcements of this importance just to slap down the ambitions of senior party presidential contenders reveals an indulgence hitherto only guessed at.

Patrick: Reclaim your domain or predators will devour it!

And while it was gallant of Manheru to rush to the defence of Johannes Tomana who had also been named as a possible candidate for the AG’s office in the Zimbabwe Independent, the gesture was entirely gratuitous. Tomana had been invited to comment on his prospects by the paper and had very ably done so. He didn’t need a garrulous columnist with suspect credentials to speak for him.

In the same context Manheru appears to think that our editors have been “weeping” over the fact that Tomana is representing individuals and companies claiming damages for the alleged loss of property or income as a result of stayaways. In fact the only tears being shed here are for those the Office of the President has deluded with its dubious agenda.

Exactly how successful have Manheru and his legal friends been in civil actions brought so far against their critics? Now Manheru is threatening that “the going” will get “really tough” for us at the Independent. Really?

If we are not intimidated by Manheru’s delinquent boss, why does he think for one minute we are likely to be intimidated by his loose-tongued handy man with a record of failure?

Manheru and other Mugabe courtiers need have no fear of one candidate they all seem so scared of. Emmerson Mnangagwa announced on Saturday in a hagiographical piece in the Herald that he had no ambitions for the top job.

“I have no aspirations for presidency at all,” he announced. “I’m above average intelligence. How do you aspire for a position where there is no vacancy?”

How indeed! And it is up to the public to decide how intelligent he is.

Wouldn’t it be nice if those aspiring for the presidency had the courage of their convictions? But they all seem to live in terror of the incumbent. Which is hardly surprising. Having opened up the succession debate, Mugabe is now travelling around the country breathing fire against anybody aspiring to occupy State House. Indeed, he has cleverly linked such ambitions to a spell at the Harare Remand Prison.

And he has made it clear what he thinks of democracy. Those opposing Zanu PF will have their properties seized. Roy Bennett, elected by the people of Chimanimani, has no right to own a farm, we were told.

As Mugabe made clear to SABC recently, the land reform programme was about retribution, not social justice.

“They were not for us,” he explained when justifying the farm invasions that followed the 2000 referendum verdict.

These remarks need to be advertised as widely as possible. Roy Bennett is arguably more legitimately elected than Mugabe. His electorate is 100% indigenous Zimbabwean and he didn’t need to abduct or assault anybody to win his seat. Yet he will be deprived of his livelihood for belonging to the MDC. Because the president says so!

Meanwhile, we were intrigued by the Mnangagwa interview. He was jailed, we were told, for “blowing a locomotive”. This was some feat of strength we take it? And he just avoided the death penalty. Which is why he is a principled opponent of it now.

The interview appeared one day after four prisoners were hanged at Harare Central prison complex!

Mnangagwa distanced himself from Mutumwa Mawere to whom he has been linked in the past. The Herald said Mawere was a part-owner of the Tribune newspaper.

“I have nothing to do with that newspaper neither have I done business with Mawere,” Mnangagwa categorically asserted. He acknowledged his role in promoting trade with the DRC, including the formation of “economic arms” of the ZNA and Congo armed forces. He was cited in a UN report as having been involved in the plundering of resources in the DRC, the Herald said. But it assured readers that the Security Council had cleared Zimbabwe “and the said individuals”.

This will be news to the UN!

We were disappointed with the coverage of Mnangagwa’s role in the 1980s. He was “in charge of security as a special assistant to President Mugabe from 1977-90” is all that we were told.

Is that it? Is that all the public will be permitted to know about this important non-candidate?

If at any point in the future he is again acknowledged as Mugabe’s anointed heir, we want this Herald puff piece waved in front of him so he can comment on the importance of honest disclosure — not to mention courage — as a qualification for those seeking high office!

‘The image of a jackboot crushing a head should do for Zimbabwe what the picture of a naked girl running and screaming in terror did for Vietnam,” wrote RES Cook to the Mail & Guardian recently.

“Two other images in the June 6 M&G give an accurate picture of Zim today: that of a frightened-looking Robert Mugabe surrounded by uniformed men, and of a confident Morgan Tsvangirai addressing thousands of civilians with not a uniform in sight.”

The Independent used the picture of the baton-wielding policeman on its front page. And the M&G used a close-up of the boot on the head. That picture, more than anything else, as Cook suggested, will tell the proverbial thousand words about the struggle of the pro-democracy movement in Zimbabwe, just as the little girl fleeing the napalm attack did in Vietnam.

What is not generally known is that the AP photographer who captured that moment for posterity had to flee immediately after taking the shot. A riot policeman alerted officers in a Mercedes hovering nearby that the incident had been filmed. They pursued the AP cameraman and his Mazda 323 driver in a high-speed chase all the way to Westgate where they were finally shaken off.  As a result the picture that became emblematic of the mass action found its way around the world and exposed the brutal face of Zimbabwe’s police state.

 Another face exposed was shown on the front page of the Independent last week. He is the person the state media — supported by the Financial Gazette and the Sunday Mirror — claimed was part of a stage-managed stunt designed to embarrass the government at the G8 summit in France.

At one point it was even suggested he was a journalist masquerading as a Zanu PF supporter. The picture formed part of video footage taken by Topper Whitehead and his wife Laurinda at the start of the stayaway.

Some sceptics have asked how they managed to get so far with him clinging to the back of their car when there were police roadblocks everywhere. That’s simple, the Whiteheads say. They went through the roadblocks without the police lifting a finger to help. They can be heard on the tape pleading for assistance.

After making enquiries, Topper Whitehead believes he knows the identity of his attacker, a well-known war veteran and brother to a former MP. As state spokesmen have speculated about the identity of the assailant and suggested it was all a stunt by the Whiteheads, we would welcome clarification. This is a matter of public interest.

 Given the number of fatuous statements emanating from official sources during the recent stayaway, it is difficult to decide which takes the prize as the daftest. But, as always, Didymus Mutasa has come to the rescue.

He claimed people were going about their business normally, “except for a few things in Highfield…and a few banks which are in fact part and parcel of the MDC”.

The rest of Harare was doing business normally, he claimed.

“I am going about my business normally, they have not managed to stop me…”

ZTV, which quoted this delusional nonsense, failed to tell us what “business” it was that he did. Cold Comfort Farm, with which he was associated in the past, was doing a brisk business in retailing fuel during the stayaway, we are told.

 Olivia Muchena appears to have got herself into a spot of bother last week after claiming to be representing Sadc at a Commonwealth science conference in South Africa. She returned to Zimbabwe last Tuesday when South Africa did an about turn on her invitation which was in contravention of the Commonwealth’s suspension of Zimbabwe.

At a press conference she repeated the official line that Zimbabwe wasn’t really suspended from the Commonwealth because two out of the troika — Nigeria and South Africa — voted against suspension in March.

But the South Africans were unimpressed. The Department of Foreign Affairs overruled the Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology and had her invitation withdrawn, calling it “erroneous”. Now the Commonwealth Science Council has decided that for as long as Zimbabwe is suspended, Malawi will have to represent the southern African region, the Sunday Independent reported last weekend.

Before returning to Zimbabwe under a cloud, Muchena told the South African press she was entitled to a farm under the fast track scheme.

Asked about a report that she had jumped the queue to get the farm, Muchena said: “All of those words were put into the mouths of war veterans.”

Why, then, did war veterans’ leader Joseph Chinotimba stand up at a Zanu PF rally last year and accuse her of stealing the farm?

“In a revolution like we had, there are bound to be some wayward things happening but they are the exception rather than the rule,” she suggested.

Muchena also took issue with the Sunday Independent’s coverage of the Zimbabwe High Court order to vacate her legislature seat two years ago in favour of the opposition MDC due to widespread electoral fraud.

“What the paper did not tell you was that the results in my constituency were 19 220 in favour of me and Zanu PF and only 1 777 in favour of MDC,” said Muchena. “And four days after the judge made that judgment, he resigned because of the public outcry,” she claimed, confirming that she has taken the case on appeal to the Supreme Court.

Two years later, the court has yet to set a date for her hearing, the Sunday Independent pointed out. Muchena denied allegations that she had had MDC members abducted and brought to her Zanu PF campaign rallies in handcuffs, stating “that is utterly false. It did not happen”.

So there you have it!

 Does the president know where he is going? Not according to reports received from Nyamandlovu last week. Villagers, bussed in from Hwange and other places, had to wait all day to hear his threats against the opposition, according to the Daily News. And all because the president had lost his way.

Matabeleland North governor Obert Mpofu told the crowd eager to witness Mugabe’s latest fist-waving skills that the helicopter ferrying the president from Harare had lost direction and gone to Tsholotsho instead. We are relieved to hear he eventually found Nyamandlovu. Let’s hope he now finds the political exit without too many diversions.

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