Muckraker

History’s longest suicide note


IT must have been one of the longest suicide notes in history. Jonathan Moyo’s lengthy denunciation of John Nkomo and Dumiso Dabengwa will have sealed his fate in Zanu PF whatever steps he now takes to recover

his position.


The impression of a ruling party at war with itself — disclosed by the Minister of State for Information and Publicity whose job it is to provide an upbeat image of the party and government singing with one voice — can hardly have impressed its leaders, already in an unforgiving mood.


The petulant attack on two of his seniors, whom he amazingly claimed could not match him in terms of length of service to the party and were therefore the real mafikizolos, demonstrates an extraordinary lack of judgement for one desperate to claw his way back into official favour.

Of all the leaders of Zanu PF, Nkomo and Dabengwa are among the most respected — even by their political adversaries. Their restrained and dignified replies contrasted with the venomous vitriol and threats of retribution that are a hallmark of the Information minister’s public rhetoric.


It was gratifying to witness such a maladroit statement targeted at Zanu PF’s most senior luminaries. Now they might appreciate the unconstrained ambition of the man into whose hands they gullibly placed the fortunes of this country and its media. The private press and civil society have hitherto been the chief targets of Moyo’s unhinged rantings. Now his colleagues understand the danger of a suborned public media.


For paragraph after paragraph, admitting no editorial restraint, Moyo was permitted to use the public press as a platform to attack his critics within his own party. And he had the cheek to accuse his detractors of “abuse of office” — a field in which he has considerable expertise
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We were also treated to the now customary claims of “false and defamatory allegations”. Only this time the bankrupt rhetoric was aimed at his own leadership whom he accused of going “too far”, a parameter Moyo has never recognised hitherto.


In the interests of “justice, fairness and the rule of law, Cdes Nkomo and Dabengwa must now be held legally accountable for their defamatory political lies in the courts”, he warned.
 
Their reply should be unambiguous: “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.”

Is this not the same minister who has used the most abusive language to denounce his detractors? Why should he now, when the going gets tough, run for the protection of his overworked lawyers? What a political coward!

Nkomo and Dabengwa have been “card-carrying” members of Zanu PF since the early 1960s. How old is Moyo? Did he join up as a toddler?

Enough of this nonsense. It is time the public media was reminded of its central mandate: to serve the people of Zimbabwe as a whole, not one party and certainly not one man.

By fighting the private battles of Jonathan Moyo and affording him limitless space to attack his critics, the state press has demonstrated the dangers of abuse of power and unprofessional conduct. But now, at least, the victims are at every level of our society.


Yet by a curious twist of irony, Moyo on Tuesday claimed he was being “persecuted” for working for the people of Tsholotsho. Shouldn’t it be the private media crying foul against this latter day Saul? He shouldn’t be allowed to get away with this dissembling as a martyr. He is simply a charlatan and political opportunist who wants to cry louder than the folkloric Hare when it is his turn to be cooked. He should be happy that at least he has access to the media, whereas he has always ensured that his opponents don’t have any other “ticket to heaven”.


When Nkomo denied that he went to Tsholotsho specifically to bar him from contesting, Moyo was filled with a holy rage. “That’s a naked lie,” he cried bitterly. “It assumes members of the public are stupid and will believe anything that he says when the truth speaks for itself.”

Hear the hypocrite coming out of his shell! So he in fact knows we don’t believe his puerile propaganda and still makes it his daily toil to serve us more of the same? It’s heartening that he can be so thoroughly hurt he wants to shed tears in public. At least Nkomo has never been so stupid to pretend he was bigger than the party.

Finally, we must thank Moyo, not just for a very public self-decapitation, but for inviting as many people as possible to the funeral.


A suitably airbrushed account of the role of musicians in the liberation struggle appeared under the silver jubilee rubric in the Sunday Mail. It featured the role of Cde Chinx, Simon Chimbetu, and Clive Malunga. But curiously it omitted Thomas Mapfumo and Oliver Mtukudzi.

We had this pearl of wisdom from Cde Chinx: “He said some of the hits on his Hondo Yeminda album were composed in 1979 and (he) was compelled to release them after the 2000 referendum when the Western powers through the private media influenced Zimbabweans to vote against land reforms.”


So Zimbabweans could not think for themselves? And who “compelled” him to release his repetitious album, we wonder?

Obviously not the same people who compelled Zimbabweans to vote “No”!

We liked the little piece on Air Zimbabwe in the Sunday Mail’s Brands & Branding supplement. “The national airliner (sic) has flown high and proud across all the five continents of the world over the past 25 years and has carved itself a reputation as one of the leading airlines in the world,” we were told.

It had become “synonymous with safety and reliability”.


A Mr Lawrence Nyagumbo, interviewed at Harare Airport on arrival from the UK, was suitably effusive. “As Zimbabweans in the Diaspora we feel proud to see our national airliner (sic) being popular with tourist and business executives and just seeing the country’s colours on Air Zimbabwe aircraft makes one feel proud to be from the motherland,” he gushed.

We suspect he would be less proud if he had been subject to one of Air Zim’s frequent delays. The airline has four planes now compared to 15 at Independence when it made a profit — something to think about for the jubilee!


Another Sunday Mail puff piece last weekend said: “While some forces of darkness expected an economic meltdown soon after Independence, the new Zimbabwean government managed to silence its critics…”


Yes, it silenced them all right by using the Emergency Powers, borrowed from Ian Smith, to detain people without trial or regardless of judicial outcomes. Dumiso Dabengwa was a notable victim. So was Lookout Masuku.
And the economic meltdown certainly came — 24 years later!


Who is producing these facile propaganda pieces and making state journalists put them under their bylines? They look as if they are all churned out by the same Orwellian factory. Come back Nathan and Chen, all is forgiven!


Muckraker simply can’t believe the depth to which people will grovel in return for political favours. Here is a letter sent recently to CFU Midlands members by their chairman. “We have received a request to donate cattle, chickens and mealie-meal to a welcoming reception next week for the new Vice-President, Joyce Mujuru.

“This request has come to us through the Midlands leadership whom I’m sure you know.

“I suggest that each member pay in 1 million in cash to Bob at the CFU office by the end of business hours on Monday the 10th January 2005, as we need to secure these donations from our sector by Wednesday the 12th.

 “Each individual’s name will be on the list of donors when we present the donations so think hard before you do nothing. It is a strategy that I believe will ultimately lead to benefits of sorts in the future. But it is like gambling.” Have these guys learnt nothing in five years?


Still on the subject of economic fantasising, we wonder what country Lowani Ndlovu is living in. He claimed in his Sunday Mail column this week that Zimbabwe’s economy was showing “definite signs of recovery”. And what are those “definite signs”? “Goods are now readily available in the shops and the black market has disappeared,” declared Lowani.


He should stop fooling himself because the foreign currency black market is thriving despite attempts to foist the Homelink project on Zimbabweans in the diaspora at unrealistic exchange rates. There is no mealie-meal in the shops and one is luck to find a packet of Chimombe milk in a supermarket fridge.


Lowani might be excited about his Zanu PF party as we move towards the election, but ordinary Zimbabweans are definitely not amused. This disenchantment was evident in the weekend Zanu PF primary elections where voter turnout was pathetic. For instance in Kuwadzana there were just over a 1 000 participants in a constituency with over 20 000 registered voters. So the MDC might yet reap another “protest vote” in March despite Lowani’s claims of economic recovery.


Police commissioner Augustine Chihuri has warned politicians against inciting violence during elections. He said those who wanted to get to parliament through “bloodshed” would face the full wrath of the law. We wish him well in his endeavours. Unfortunately much of the violence is being perpetrated by his own party against its members. Immediate examples that come to mind are Kindness Paradza and Phone Madiro who missed the primaries at the weekend because they have pending cases of violence. The party was not similarly harsh with its secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa who was accused of fanning violence in his Makoni constituency.

Chihuri told the Sunday News President Robert Mugabe was the country’s “number one policeman and his word is our action when he says there should be no political violence. No other policeman should do anything to compromise that position…” warned Chihuri.


We wish we could have faith in this number one policeman. Provided he has renounced all his degrees in violence of course. Meanwhile, we thought the police executed their duties according to the Constitution of Zimbabwe and the Police Act, not the whims of politicians. What’s going on here Cde Chihuri?


Talking of which, we hope Chihuri will seriously investigate Labour minister Paul Mangwana who allegedly went “berserk” and burnt ballot papers in Kadoma East where he was facing a stiff challenge from Bright Matonga.

According to the Daily Mirror of Monday, Mangwana could not face the prospect of defeat, which would almost certainly mean a loss of his cabinet post after the March election. If the claims are true, Mangwana deserves more than party disciplinary action. For a lawyer, his actions set a very bad precedent for the less sophisticated members of his party. And how much more thuggery should we expect when the contest is against an opposition candidate? Let’s see Chihuri’s claimed impartiality in action, not just words.


Professor Jonathan Moyo appears to be still fully in charge of Zanu PF’s media empire, if not in person than at least by remote control.

While Moyo’s attacks against Zanu PF leaders get pride of place on the front pages or are prominently laid out on inside pages, the party chairman’s responses are heavily censored and exiled to the papers’ Siberian pages.
 
This week the Sunday News placed John Nkomo’s response to his attack by Moyo over the Tsholotsho debacle after the classifieds on page 13. That was after running police commissioner Chihuri’s interview twice on pages 1 and 9. The space on page 2 was reserved for a more important story of baboons wreaking havoc on timber plantations in Manicaland. And what mole gave Moyo details of Nkomo’s trip to Tsholotsho? Just who is in charge at Zimpapers who appears to be bigger than the party?


For those who need evidence that state newspapers are assisting Moyo’s candidacy for Tsholotsho despite the allocation of the constituency to a woman, the Chronicle on Monday reported approvingly on his presentation of $69 million to pay school fees for gifted pupils from the area.


It reported Moyo as saying “the persecution he has gone through had strengthened his resolve to work for the people”.


He had been barred from contesting the seat, the paper said, “despite the fact that (he) had been unanimously chosen by the party’s district coordinating committee in consultation with traditional leaders and the people.


“He was unanimously chosen largely because he initiated a lot of development projects in the district,” the Chronicle said. “Prof Moyo is credited with facilitating the construction of the Grain Marketing Board depot, expansion of the Bulawayo-Tsholotsho Road and sourcing computers, books and construction material for schools in the district. He has also sourced hospital equipment, rehabilitated irrigation equipment and facilitated the electrification of schools and clinics.” No doubt there as to whose side the Chronicle is on!


Commenting on the decision to select a woman candidate, Moyo said: “This just shows that there is something fundamentally wrong and it is self-evident and it must be challenged by everyone who loves our region and our country.”So much for party discipline!


Let’s give CAPS United three cheers for responding positively to President Mugabe’s “Look East” policy. Unlike local musicians and business people who still think West is best, CAPS United have recruited Cheng Lee from China to their club. The Herald says Cheng’s parents have moved to stay in Zimbabwe. Who said sport and politics don’t mix?