By Hudson Taivo
I HAVE always thought that Herald columnist Nathaniel Manheru was an intellectually-challenged ignoramus, but I never had a very decisive corroboration of my suspicions. But his article print
ed in the Herald edition of June 18 has shown that behind the long-winded sentences and meaningless words is the hand of a dunderhead who does not understand simple comprehension.
Indeed, it seems Manheru has perfected the art of subterfuge; covering up for his lack of wit by using cloudy indecipherable language.
He gave a very detailed account to prove that it was the Union Jack that was lowered at Rufaro Stadium on the eve of April 18 1980. He even quoted the Rhodesia Herald, and provided the reader with other extras ostensibly to rub salt into the wounds of those who in his confused mind are still not happy about that historic day.
Manheru’s research was inspired by a brief, passing comment made in the Zimbabwe Independent’s Muckraker column where another Herald columnist was chided for telling fibs to buttress his shallow arguments.
Yet all Muckraker said was that Ian Smith could not have wept when the Union Jack was lowered because he had discarded the flag 12 years back, preferring his own green/white flag.
To his credit, Manheru did reproduce what Muckraker had said to show that he wasn’t making up the case. And it was right there in front of him, written in plain, simple language. You don’t even need to be a barrister to understand that the question was not whether or not it was the Union Jack that was lowered at Rufaro Stadium, but whether Smith wept when it did.
It is unlikely that Smith could have wept, because he despised the Union Jack, and nothing in Manheru’s week-long research seems to prove the contrary.
Comprehension skills are not taught in journalism classes because it is assumed these are basic skills. Manheru is too old to go back to elementary school, but I have seen a number of high school boys loitering around Herald House around lunchtime. I am sure they would be happy to give a helping hand, if he asks.
More importantly, however, Manheru’s obsession with trivia is a microcosm of the government’s pursuance of issues peripheral to national development. With shortages of fuel, electricity and other basic commodities, one would have expected that the priorities of the government would have centred on these issues.
Indications are that inflation is on the rise again, and a sensible government would have sought ways of complementing the efforts of the Reserve Bank to keep inflation down.
The G8 summit is only a few weeks away and the world’s richest nations have emphasised that eradicating Africa’s debt and poverty would be top on the agenda.
The Zanu PF government should have seized that opportunity to show the world that it is committed to improving the lives of its people, and would use debt relief to divert funds to real issues like fighting HIV/Aids, health and education.
It should have been worried by the latest indications that Africa is the only continent that has been growing poorer in the last decade. But no, all the government could think of was Operation Murambatsvina!
The government has destroyed thousands of people’s lives in an operation to restore order, yet that issue was not on the election manifesto three months before. Surely, the government must have known well in advance that there was serious lack of order in urban areas, and should have told the electorate that the first major step would be to bulldoze their houses. That way, people would have voted knowing what was coming.
There is no way government can eradicate the black market without eradicating the reasons why it exists in the first place. Sending the police on door-to-door searches for foreign currency from DStv subscribers is not only the height of lunacy but an affront to people’s liberty and freedom of choice.
The best way to generate foreign currency is to create an environment conducive to foreign investment, not crucify people for their meagre monthly subscriptions. But how does government invite foreign investment when it destroys its own people’s homes and bulldoze them to more poverty and destitution?
In 2000 government targeted white commercial farmers and the justification was that they were a minority gaining at the expense of the black indigenous population. Five years later, the government is starving the same black people – true Zimbabweans who never shout that they are Zimbabweans, because they cannot be anything else. What hypocrisy!
The government has no shame trying to court foreign currency from Zimbabweans living or working abroad, yet the majority of those people were driven away by bad economic policies at home.
Zanu PF does not want to accept responsibility for mismanagement of the economy, preferring to blame its detractors – most of whom are imaginary.
The Mugabe regime is always complaining about bad publicity in the foreign press and blames Britain and the opposition for misrepresenting the facts. But the whole world has seen bulldozers razing people’s homes and Mugabe himself throwing his weight (he has actually lost weight) behind the inhuman act.
These are the real issues that bootlickers like Manheru should address, rather than wasting 1 304 words trying to find out whether Smith wept when the Union Jack was lowered, and failing in the attempt.
*Hudson Taivo is a Zimbabwean writer based in the UK.