Zanu PF’s grand inquisition on the roll

RONG>KINDNESS Paradza seems to have learnt the hard way that there is no room for freedom of expression in Zanu PF. In his maiden address to parliament he committed the unpardonable crime of criticising the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act and the Broadcasting Services Act. Now he is paying the price.

Zanu PF’s Mashonaland West provincial disciplinary committee has recommended he be expelled from the party for undermining government policies. He is accused of “serving foreign interests” by, among other things, giving an interview to the VoA’s Studio 7, “a critical radio station that broadcasts negatively against the party and government of Zimbabwe”.

His allegiance could not be confirmed, it was reported, because he could not produce a party card.

It obviously did not occur to anybody in Zanu PF to ask to see his party card before he stood as MP for Makonde! And is the Mash West inquisition not aware that senior ministers have been interviewed by the same foreign radio stations that Paradza is accused of having spoken to?

Do they not recall the “Yes, I kicked him very hard” interview between Didymus Mutasa and the VoA not so long ago?

But the most serious of the charges levelled against Paradza, it would seem, is that he showed “disrespect for the party and president”. He did this “by attacking the person of the provincial chairman, Cde Philip Chiyangwa, and the Zanu PF deputy secretary for information and publicity, Professor Jonathan Moyo, who are senior members of the ruling party”.

And it doesn’t end there.

“It is known when he served as deputy editor of the Financial Gazette he had a feast on most political figures including the First Lady Cde Grace Mugabe whose Borrowdale house he nicknamed ‘Gracelands’.”

Actually it was the Zimbabwe Independent which did that in 1996 when it exposed the VIP housing scheme.

Those charging Paradza are evidently not too fussy about getting their facts right. And are Chiyangwa and Moyo so “senior” that they cannot be criticised? How long has Moyo been a party member?

We are surprised Chiyangwa has allowed himself to be associated with such pomposity. A party that does not permit its members to criticise measures that damage the nation’s reputation and investment prospects, such as Aippa and the Broadcasting Services Act, is a party with no future.

Zanu PF is doing to itself what it is doing to the country: chasing off its best and brightest.

 Who exactly are the “bankers, industrialists, war veterans and lecturers” who are threatening to set up a radio station to counter what they claim is anti-Zimbabwe propaganda beamed from Botswana?

Because we would hate to think this story was invented by the Disinformation and Propaganda department to intimidate a visiting Botswana minister!

The consortium of local businessmen, we were told, have been “pestering” the government for a licence to set up a station that will “tell the true Zimbabwean story to the outside world”.

This, we can safely assume, will reflect the view expressed by UZ economist Dr Clever Mumbengegwi last weekend that negative GDP growth rates “were a result of some negative factors beyond the country’s control”.

It’s all to do with drought you see. But who are the so-called bankers and industrialists behind this radio scheme? Strangely not one of them was identified. Don’t we have enough deceitful radio stations churning out delusional messages already?

“Studio 7,” one of these anonymous businessman was quoted as telling the Sunday Mail, “has made us suffer for too long and it’s time to speak the same language.”

So it’s Studio 7 that’s making us suffer? Glad we’re clear on that!

We thought government would latch on to such a patriotic initiative to tell its story until we realised that if those patriots pushing it can’t come out of the shadows, why should they be entrusted with such a task?

Why would bankers, industrialists and war veterans be afraid to be identified with such a noble undertaking if Joseph Chinotimba can so easily be roped in by Newsnet to publicly attack the party’s national chairman John Nkomo over the land issue? Sounds like a cabal trying to promote some inflated egos in Zanu PF.

Anyway, what is this Zimbabwean story that cannot be told on national radio with all four radio stations singing the same “local content” 24 hours a day?

And what genuine banker would be so naïve as to think that Studio 7 is responsible for Zimbabwe’s economic decline in the past four years and believes setting up a propaganda station targeting Botswana listeners will be the solution to the country’s problems?

 The government media has had a field day with Tony Blair’s electoral setbacks in the local government and European parliamentary elections. There has also been much satisfaction over the alleged tampering with postal votes.

Blair has been an outspoken critic of electoral conduct in Zimbabwe, it is pointed out.

Perhaps he needs to learn a thing or two from Zanu PF if he is to avoid defeat in future. Banning newspapers, unleashing local militias, and preventing opposition meetings might do the trick!

It is understandable that there should be some official elation when there are reports of torture in Iraq or vote-tampering in Britain. The difference is of course that shortcomings or wrong-doing are exposed and dealt with in Britain and the US. They become issues, thanks to media exposure, which governments cannot ignore. Can the same be said of Zimbabwe where electoral manipulation is routine and human rights abuses persist despite court revelations?

 Lands minister John Nkomo appears to have stirred a hornet’s nest with one apoplectic and familiar-sounding media agent Lowani Ndlovu by announcing that government would nationalise all farmland and conservancies. He is now accused of scaring away potential investors, as if we have seen any of those since the likes of Ndlovu embarked on a crusade to abolish property rights four years ago!

“What made Minister Nkomo’s statement on nationalisation vulnerable to the vultures in the anti-Zimbabwe lobby,” opined Ndlovu sagely just a few days before the Information department announced there would be no change of policy, “is that it was a mere political pronouncement, that is empty talk, not supported by any administrative instrument or administrative action, let alone by law…”

So Nkomo is now given to idle talk and opening up opportunities for the anti-Zimbabwe lobby, whoever that is? And Ndlovu wants us to believe the contentious land reform issue has been carried out according to the law.

Does he not know how many orders MDC MP for Chimanimani Roy Bennett received from the courts against the seizure of his Charleswood Estate? Eight, by our last reckoning. All of them were studiously ignored by the government and party that are giving Ndlovu a licence to fight his seniors.

Kondozi Farm was also seized against a lawfully issued court order and it was “immoral little boys” of Lowani’s ilk who went to town crowing that there would be “no going back on Kondozi”.

But it is now convenient to talk about the law because it suits Ndlovu to kick the chairman of the party from behind, Mutasa-style.

This is part of the rottenness which has been eating away at the ruling party in the recent past. But more telling is the metaphor of “vultures in the anti-Zimbabwe lobby”. Perhaps Ndlovu can already picture himself feasting on Nkomo’s carcass even before the party’s congress in December when new leaders will be chosen! Because we are not aware of any anti-Zimbabwe lobby, apart from that invented by the party’s propaganda professors. So we are not sure how the image of vultures crept into Nkomo’s pronouncement if not because Ndlovu thinks Nkomo is dead politically.

Talk of insubordination and a party riven to the core by political rivalry and vaulting ambitions!

 With this in mind, a reader called in to ask if the ban on Kindness Paradza criticising his seniors applied to Chiyangwa and Moyo.

“Is this the same Jonathan Moyo who has reportedly been attacking John Nkomo, Nathan Shamuyarira over the Sky News interview, and Vice-President Joseph Msika over Kondozi Farm and other ‘coup plotters’ in the party?” our reader wanted to know?

“Are they not all his seniors in the party? And why is that not gross indiscipline?”

A good question. It does look like certain definitions belong to those who control the media and can deploy them like missiles against perceived enemies!

 Alongside the Paradza indictment, the Herald last Saturday ran a story on President Mugabe’s mansion: “Nothing wrong with giving president timber: Mahathir.”

This followed revelations by Mugabe in an interview with Sky News that he had received building materials from China and Malaysia. He said former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad had donated some timber, which provoked calls for an inquiry by the opposition in that country.

“What’s wrong with that?” Mahathir was quoted as saying. Giving gifts of timber was “usual practice”.

The opposition is far from satisfied by Mahathir’s latest explanation.

But are we not missing an issue here? What about local content: does it only apply to ZBC?

Malaysia is said to have donated timber while China gave Mugabe marble for his villa. Have the first family’s tastes so changed in the course of their sojourn at State House that Zimbabwe can no longer satisfy their needs? What kind of timber was it? What kind of flooring that Zimbabwe cannot produce? And what of all the other accessories that were sourced abroad?

It is not just a land audit that we need!

 Finally, we were sorry Supa had to go running to a London “bobby” to get his camera back last Saturday when Zimbabwe House was invaded by MDC supporters.

The policeman, instead of rushing to Supa’s rescue, should have just said he couldn’t help because it was “a political matter”.

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