Muckraker

Somebody benefiting from chaos on farms


THERE is nothing quite as dispiriting as watching a group of journalists sitting silently while a minister insults them. In any other country the minister would have been told his fortune in quick-time and giv

en the order of the boot. But then again, in any other country the minister would not have abused his hospitality quite so brazenly.


Acting Information minister Paul Mangwana (who tells us he prefers “Munyaradzi”) addressed the members of the Quill Club last Friday.


“We have a situation where media houses and journalists abuse their journalistic privileges and write falsehoods and sensationalise issues to satisfy their foreign paymasters,” he declared in the now customary facile language of Zanu PF. “By so-doing we are working for the destruction of our national economy because we will be chasing away investors…”


Nobody told him to stop talking such arrant nonsense. Nobody asked him whether he was aware the courts had struck down the offence of “abusing journalistic privilege” because it couldn’t be taken seriously, and that the state had lost all the prosecutions it had brought against journalists under the law he so mechanically defends.


Who are the “foreign masters” he cites? If he knows who they are why doesn’t he have the courage of his dubious convictions and name them? And who has scared off investment: a handful of journalists who evidently don’t pose much of a threat at the Quill Club, or state agents who steal land and engage in public violence against government’s critics?


“Journalists should not be misled by rich media houses that are financed from abroad…” he ventured. Somebody should have said that the country should not be misled by rich ministers who have brought it to its knees with their failed policies. What sort of patriotism is that?


Nobody asked the obvious question: Is it appropriate for a minister responsible for oversight of what have been widely identified as corrupt parastatals to be the same person responsible for investigating corruption at these parastatals?


Mangwana asked why some independent newspapers had editorial policies in which “they only reported on the negatives without a single positive story”.


Here’s the deal minister: You find us a positive story about Zanu PF and we will publish it. But we appreciate you may need a little time to get back to us on this one.



A private war seems to be going on in the pages of the state media every Saturday.


The columnist calling himself Nathaniel Manheru objects to those calling “in the name of NEDPP” for the eviction of A1 farmers who are accused of pursuing backward agricultural practices. Their pieces of land are well placed for “quick hits” by means of which their detractors believe they can turn the economy around within months, it is said.


This is the same “breed” making impassioned pleas for government to stop land invasions, “themselves a catch-all defence for stubborn whites”, Manheru claims.


So who has been making “impassioned pleas for an end to land invasions” and hopes to turn the economy around in a matter of months? Is it not Gideon Gono?


If so, despite his access to the highest office in the land, he appears to face a roadblock in the form of Manheru. Which explains why Didymus Mutasa and others feel free to ignore calls for a halt to land invasions. They intend to go on seizing land and so long as this gang of recidivists has the bit between its teeth the country has no prospect of investment or recovery.


Meetings of the NEDPP executive, we are told, are becoming increasingly acrimonious as those that had hoped to see some dividends for their hard work, particularly in the form of cooperation with the private sector, see nothing now except failure staring them in the face.


“NEDPP is finished as a project and its owners are fighting like rats in a barrel,” one disillusioned participant told us last week.


We know that is true because we see it advertised every Saturday morning in the Herald. The president has warned, “with the depth of a seer”, we are admiringly told, “the next conflict will be between A1 and A2 farmers”.


So the next jihad is already being planned as the black latifundia faces its would-be expropriators. Is there to be no peace, no settled policy, no respite from the constant turmoil as fake revolutionary opportunists book their seats aboard the presidential baggage train?


Manheru sees nothing wrong with continued farm invasions, stock theft, veld fires and the environmental havoc caused by the rampant cutting of trees by sluggards who have no idea of farming.


To him those who call for an end to this destruction are agents of imperialism who are against “land reform”. Even President Mugabe who said people should not keep land for speculative purposes or as “weekend braai resorts” is a petit bourgeois. Especially Gono who has on several occasions called for an end to farm invasions to “increase productivity”.


Manheru can be sure he has Mutasa on his side. He has been issuing fresh offer letters left, right and centre to anyone, so long as he is a potential supporter.


In Manheru’s scheme of things, the purpose of land reform was not about productivity but an issue of cultural identity.


We wonder what secret deals he is making from the anarchy on the farms. Don’t you think we need a probe there Dr Mahoso?



Zimbabwe had another visit recently from one of those Pan-Africanist solidarity merchants who are paid to see nothing, hear nothing and say nothing of the truth during their tour.


“The purpose of our visit,” said Canadian-based Global Afrikan Congress chair Cikia Thomas, “is to express solidarity with the people and government of Zimbabwe for the work that the people and the government are doing towards self-determination in Zimbabwe.”


This comes at a time when Zimbabwe is completely dependent upon the goodwill of other countries for its food and fuel supplies. It used to be self-sufficient, but now, thanks to the policies Thomas endorses, it is a beggar state.


What we want to know is who funded Thomas’s visit here? We are sure in the interests of honesty he will disclose that for us. We would hate to think he is not his own man. And what objection does he have to living in his homeland of Jamaica?


Thomas said he expected to see people begging in Harare.


“That is the impression we got from the Western media but we didn’t see that.”


His photo shows him wearing a pair of glasses. Behind the lens his eyes are staring vacantly upwards which perhaps explains why he didn’t see any beggars on the streets of Harare. His hosts evidently clapped their hands as their vehicle approached the junction of Sam Nujoma and Chitepo and the beggars disappeared while Thomas’s eyes shifted approvingly towards the heavens.



Somebody else whose shifty eyes stare out from the pages of the state press is Tafataona Mahoso. He fatuously accuses ZUJ leader Matthew Takaona of becoming part of the “feeder lines into the global conveyer belt of lies against Zimbabwe which are also used to justify sanctions against this country”.


And what had Takaona done to deserve Mahoso’s vitriol?


He gave an interview to VoA.


Others giving interviews to VoA recently include Nathan Shamuyarira and Didymus Mutasa. They have all joined “the global conveyor belt of lies” as well have they?


It is only a matter of time now before Mahoso is taken away by men in white coats. And if he wants to know why Zimbabwe is the target of sanctions he need look no further than the widely circulated footage of ZCTU leaders being viciously assaulted in the back of a police vehicle.


There is more. Is there anybody out there who can help Mahoso? He is so terrified by the prospect of losing his job as MIC chair that he is having sleepless nights over the idea of a voluntary media council. And the Sunday Mail is giving him acres of space to pour out his copious grief.


The fellow is so distraught he can’t reason clearly. This week he said he was not opposed to self-regulation in the media which he immediately called a “myth”.The reason for this contradiction, it appears, was that an attempt at media self-regulation had failed in Zambia. This is cause for celebration for Mahoso.


If Zambia fails, why should people of a lesser calibre like Zimbabweans hope to do better? To drive the point home, even in Malawi the experiment had failed, Mahoso told us. So there was no point in wasting donor money trying to do what is to him beyond the ken of an African
mind.



And there was Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri last week telling two police women who were headed for peace-keeping duties in the Sudan to bear in mind that they were Zimbabweans and should remain “loyal and patriotic”.


“Zimbabwe is your country and home and you cannot afford to dishonour and disown it no matter how much silver and gold comes your way,” he told them.


So how much silver and gold came the way of those thugs filmed beating people on the streets of Harare and subsequently in police cells? Or was that for free?


The UNDP in Harare should be asked how their superiors in New York justify their continued sponsorship of Zimbabwe’s role in peace-keeping duties when such violence is unleashed against innocent citizens back home.



The impact of such news clips upon public consciousness in tourism source markets has yet to be quantified. But you can be sure that the government’s publicity agency, the ZTA, staffed by friends of the ruling party, will
find their work cut out for them explaining this shocking advertisement for Zimbabwe. And we wonder which government apologist will next be writing about how the independent press is responsible for “tarnishing Zimbabwe’s image” abroad.


Here’s a proposal the ZTA may want to consider: What about an ad campaign telling tourists they no longer have to leave the capital to watch wild beasts descending upon their prey. They can now see such magnificent sights from their hotel rooms. Of course the ZCTU, NCA and MDC would have to contribute to these “canned” hunts by making their members available.



There was an interesting story this week of the Harare council invoking a law that will make motorists pay for damage caused to council property in the event of an accident. This should of course save ratepayers a few pennies.


But we should be happy to have a test case where a motorist takes council to court over a burst tyre or damaged rim because of potholes in the city roads. That would be a fair deal.



There is this curious Anti-Corruption Commission-sponsored advert on TV seeking to promote awareness against corruption. It has got all the familiar small fry that are exhibited for ephemeral amusement while corruption on a grand scale in high places goes almost unnoticed. Until of course a parliamentary portfolio committee noticed it big time at Ziscosteel.


We were therefore very disappointed to hear that a report detailing this corruption has been killed and buried in an unmarked grave. Which means there may never be a postmortem to show who committed what offence. Mangwana and Obert Mpofu have demonstrated the limits of this much-touted clean-up.