Muckraker

SMoyo’s Al Jazeera a big yawn


“A BIG yawn” is the best way to d

escribe what was billed as “an exclusive interview with President Robert Mugabe” by Newsnet on Monday night.

We thought it would be something to match the Sky News interview Mugabe had last week. Instead it was one of those dull “specials” that Newsnet churns out after a free ride with the president. The only thing that turned out to be exclusive was that the interview was conducted on a plane somewhere between Addis Ababa and Cairo.


But how can one have an “exclusive interview” that has no questions? It appears Reuben Barwe was doing his voice-overs somewhere on board while Mugabe was having a quiet monologue on his own in another part of the plane. It was difficult to tell what question, if any, Mugabe was responding to as he rambled on.


We thought the president would be tackled on the serious problems facing Zimbabwe. That he would give a feisty defence of his disastrous policies. Instead he went on and on about the AU security organ.


The only useful disclosure was that the general election will be held as scheduled in March and that there will be primaries for all aspiring Zanu PF candidates.


It would be useful to hear from ZBC viewers how they think they benefited from the interview. Because, to put it bluntly, it was a complete waste of time. Is this really how Mugabe wants to be remembered in his twilight years? Is this the much-vaunted “national” response to Sky News: a dysfunctional, meandering private discourse free of challenge or relevance? Is this Zimbabwe’s Al Jazeera?

Do we recall Mugabe saying recently that he doesn’t read any media except the Herald? If that’s true, we pity him. The Herald can never say anything now unless it bears Jonathan Moyo’s imprint. Which is to say the paper looks as if it is being increasingly used to fight the minister’s political battles.

These in most cases have nothing to do with the so-called national interest or sovereignty but everything to do with personal advancement.


Of late media attacks have been directed at old-guard nationalists who have been with Mugabe since the days of the liberation war such as Joseph Msika, John Nkomo and Nathan Shamuyarira.


In Msika’s case we all know the gripe is over Kondozi Farm. When government talked about a one-man one-farm policy we didn’t think that in the end a parastatal such as the inept Agricultural and Rural Development Authority would turn out to be a beneficiary. Why should it be allocated land ahead of the needy?


It is difficult not to feel just a little sorry for Dr David Nyekorach-Matsanga who was unceremoniously bundled out of Harare airport recently when he tried to visit the country. The former Ugandan Lord’s Resistance Army spokesman had no difficulty getting in on previous occasions.


Matsanga was instrumental in securing approval for the Sky News team’s documentary on Zimbabwe and subsequent presidential interview which seems to have annoyed the hell out of the ministerial Big Head who has appointed himself Chief Gate-Keeper to the nation’s highest office. (That is of course in addition to doubling up as Minister of Justice, Attorney-General, Police Commissioner, Minister of Home Affairs, Minister of Agriculture…)


The message sent to Matsanga in the departure lounge was unambiguous: “I am the only authorised gate-keeper around here. By applying elsewhere you have questioned my immense authority over the media and dared to challenge my growing monopoly on power.”


We hold no brief for Matsanga. He was an uncritical admirer of the regime that has now spat him out. And he was a virulent critic of the independent press. But the manner of his going has illustrated as nothing else could the abuse of power that is taking place by those who deal in state retribution.
Because he didn’t genuflect before the Big-Headed one and instead approached his ostensibly senior party colleague, he has paid the price.


Forget his unyielding loyalty to the throne; he defied the Gate-Keeper and thereby exposed the president to a hostile interview. Never mind the mantra that the president is his own best spokesman. That claim has been abandoned now in favour of the fawning interview by approved eunuchs of the Newsnet court who invite their subject to share with viewers his Solomonic wisdom.


Matsanga has achieved a small measure of revenge for his humiliation by circulating as widely as possible an e-mail attack upon his present nemesis that is typically as wild and defamatory as its recipient can be. Nobody will profit from that sort of exchange. They deserve each other.


But we will be interested to see what sort of “researcher” Matsanga turns out to be when he produces the evidence he now says he is hunting down. Muckraker is sceptical. This could be another Kenyan project that turns out to be less than enlightening!


Readers who may be wondering why the Sunday Mail’s Lowani Ndlovu sounds suspiciously similar to Nathaniel Manheru were given a clue last Sunday as to where this mendacious defence of political delinquents is really coming from. Ndlovu accused the Independent’s editor of using his newspaper “to publish patently defamatory words like ‘immoral little boys’ in reference to some cabinet ministers whose only sin was to stand by government’s policy and decision to evict (Piet) de Klerk from Kondozi…”


So where a vice-president uses those words in an interview, the Independent is forbidden to use them in case they apply to “some cabinet ministers”?
What form of new censorship is this, where a newspaper is not allowed to publish an interview with the nation’s vice-president because state newspaper columnists, clearly reflecting the views of their over-ambitious handlers, say so?


And who could John Nkomo be thinking of when he told the Independent last week that aspiring ruling party MPs should not be allowed to claim a constituency without the preliminary consultative procedures being followed?
Should we have spiked that interview as well?


Ndlovu seems to think that Nkomo misled the public when he said he had not signed any letters reversing so-called land reform. He said Nkomo’s denial was “unconvincing” because there was a “well-orchestrated diabolical and thus systematic effort to reverse the land reform” by bureaucrats “against the backdrop of political inaction by those who should politically supervise the bureaucracy”.


But he didn’t give a single example of a new farmer who had been evicted. Nor one white farmer who has been given back his farm illegally. Why are Ndlovu’s so-called new farmers being evicted so craven that they will not come out in the open and be identified by name? Are these the same brave soldiers who reportedly spearheaded the so-called Third Chimurenga and are always threatening to go back to the bush to defend land reform, we wonder?


Ndlovu last week suggested we had described all photos of British and American soldiers brutalising Iraqis as fakes.


The only ones we branded as fakes were those that turned out to be fakes.


But whatever the facts, Lying Lowani is obliged to distort them. BBC claims of torture and rape at youth training centres turned out to be “totally false”, we are told.


Really? And what about all the other documented cases of torture and rape since 2000? Are they “totally false” as well?


The latest Amnesty International report is very clear. “There was an escalation in state-sponsored attacks on critics of the government, particularly supporters of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change,” it states. “The perpetrators of human rights violations continued to enjoy impunity and allegations against state agents remained without investigation.”


Well done to Sunday Mail reporter Andrew Ncube. He was able to defend himself recently by using his karate skills, the newspaper reported last weekend.
Ncube was returning to town from the university when he was set upon by a gang of thugs. They grabbed him by his belt and then cut it with a knife. But he was able to frighten them off.


“They used a knife to cut my belt,” he said. “I don’t know what they wanted to do but I think I saved my life by demonstrating my karate skills.”
But this was not before they had searched his pockets and removed his money, his ID card, ATM card and cash, the paper reported.


No doubt next time Andrew will remember to demonstrate his skills at an earlier stage of the proceedings.


Joseph Chinotimba said this week unless John Nkomo “comes out in the open and acts like a minister” — that is bows to the wishes of the war veterans — they will be forced to wear their straw hats once again.


The Herald translated this as a reference to the farm occupations of 2000.


Instead of wearing his straw hat once again and threatening government officials or the tiny handful of white farmers who are still left on the land, why doesn’t Joseph Chinotimba try and win a democratic election?


That would show he can do something other than being an overpaid municipal policeman and general Zanu PF enforcer!

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