Muckraker

Government its own worst enemy


THE report by a Church-based NGO on Zimbabwe’s National Youth Service training programme seems to have stirred an indignant reaction in government circles.


Headed by Archbishop Pius Ncube, Soli

darity Peace Trust documents how the youth brigades have become killer gangs roaming the country and inflicting violence at will. At a press conference in Johannesburg last Friday, youths who had sought refuge in South Africa after regretting their depredations against innocent people, provided testimony on the vicious record of Zanu PF’s political enforcers.


Zimbabwean officials switched to denial mode, first seeking to discredit the source and then demanding to know why the gangsters had not been handed over to the police.

The Herald, casually tossing edi-torial opinion into its report of the Johannesburg press conference, claimed “Archbishop Ncube has taken every opportunity to tarnish the image of the government at international fora and during his sermons”.


It didn’t tell us that the government needed no help from anybody else in tarnishing its reputation. The Green Bombers are after all a product of its political desperation and their record speaks for itself.


Archbishop Ncube was accused of “harbouring youths who have confessed to committing rape, murder and torture in Zimbabwe”.


So it’s true then! That’s exactly what the report says they were doing. Some elements in the state media tried to convince us these atrocities were the work of Selous Scouts!

Minister of Youth Development Elliot Manyika who presides over the travesty known as National Youth Service queried why the archbishop was harbouring criminals. “He should behave like a responsible citizen,” Manyika stupidly insisted, as if anybody in his party met that criteria!


He said his ministry and party were able to account for the activities of “their” youths — which is worth recording for the day when they will be required to account for their trail of violence, lawlessness and mayhem. The report is illustrated by graphic photos of torture victims.


Only slightly less obtuse than Manyika, we had Wayne Bvudzijena saying investigations by the police showed that no such incidents took place in the country. They were “fabrications by people with vested interests bent on tarnishing the country’s image”, he dutifully claimed in precisely the same language as that adopted by other Zanu PF megaphones.


Archbishop Ncube was “just trying to attract attention by moving around with the alleged murderers”, Bvudzijena said. He accused the South African media of failing to verify the authenticity of the claims.


Bvudzijena’s statement exposes not only the unprofessional and partisan posturing of the ZRP since it became a tool of the ruling party whose spokesmen are rewarded with farms, it shows why no victims of the youth brigades’ terror should expect justice in Zimbabwe.


The report itself is a well-researched chronicle of the shocking record of murder, abductions, disappearances, torture, rape, arson and intimidation.


“Accounts of the militia being implicated in theft, vandalism and usurping powers of law enforcement agencies are multiple,” the report says.


“On the whole the youth militia have impunity, often working under the direction of war veterans and alongside government agencies in their illegal activities.” It gives the example of Green Bombers manning roadblocks.


Alongside this damning body of evidence Bvudzijena’s shrill denials sound spoon-fed and hollow.


“In the event that police prove that a crime was committed, we will liaise with our South African counterparts to have the criminals extradited,” Bvudzijena claimed.

The obvious reply to that is to ask what the response of the police has been to political killings, abductions and torture since 2000? How many successful investigations have there been? How many prosecutions?


What progress has there been in the case of the abduction and torture of Mark Chavunduka and Ray Choto? What is the current status of the killers of Talent Mabika and Tichaona Chiminya? What has happened to the killers of David Stevens and other farmers such as Gloria and Martin Olds, gunned down in cold blood?


Do the public have confidence that where they have been victims of political violence, the police will investigate impartially and take appropriate action? Has that been the case to date?


Bvudzijena should ask himself why Solidarity Peace Trust felt it necessary to hold its press conference in the relative safety of Johannesburg instead of in Harare where victims of violence are more likely to be arrested than the perpetrators. A man was prosecuted under Posa this week for simply faxing a letter to a friend in the UK saying Zanu PF had unleashed violence during the recently-concluded local government polls. His arrest represents a blatant violation of his constitutional rights.


Do we really want to wake up on Saturday morning to see Stan Mudenge doing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on his wife? The picture of the newlyweds smooching at their wedding reception in Masvingo was plastered on the paper’s front page and then enlarged on Page 3.


While we wish the couple well, the Herald should seriously reflect on the sensitivities of its readers who want to enjoy their breakfasts without having to experience Stan and Alice munching on each other.


And are we familiar with the expression that “there was enough beer to sink a duck” at the reception? In the end some guzzlers “literally crawled home”, we are told. We hope that didn’t include the reporter.


President Mugabe disclosed in his address to the revellers that Stan never rests from his job as Foreign minister. Many times he falls asleep as soon as their plane takes off, the president revealed.


“Probably he does not know that I have heard him snore many times but now he has a wife to look to,” Mugabe said, drawing laughter from the assembled guests.

We are still trying to work out how marriage is going to solve the problem. Will Stan be bringing his wife along to give him a nudge when he starts to compete with the roar of the jet engines?


The Sunday Mail’s creepy “Under the Surface” columnist who sounds identical to the Herald’s Jonathan Nathaniel Manheru, has congratulated the Zimbabwe Independent for not carrying the inter-party talks story on its front page last week. This is clearly a matter of some sensitivity.


“The paper managed to find a lead story that had nothing to do with the imaginary talks,” Cde Under declared.


So there have been no talks at all between Zanu PF and the MDC? Don’t we recall the Sunday Mail in one of its news reports recently admitting that talks were taking place while this same columnist was insisting they weren’t?


So why is Cde Under so adamant that no talks are taking place? Has he been dropped from the negotiating team? Why do reports on the inter-party talks bug him so much?

Because, like his boss, he sees the talks not only as a threat to his political survival but an admission of Zanu PF’s failure to govern. And it is extremely galling that Zanu PF needs the MDC to rescue them from the dire straits they now find themselves in. Then there is all that annoying pressure from Sadc leaders who, while publicly expressing solidarity, are privately prodding Mugabe to sit down and negotiate. There is only one way to express this frustration and that’s to deny any such talks are taking place or are even contemplated.


But when they do get under way let’s hope this same columnist doesn’t say he should have seen it coming. “The writing was on the wall but somehow we didn’t see it.”

Meanwhile, if Cde Under is sincere in his objections to the Independent carrying what he claims is the same story on its front page every week, why does he continue to help Munyaradzi Huni write the same story every week about the MDC removing Morgan Tsvangirai? Haven’t we all had enough of that imaginary story by now?


Cde Under, by the way, is still insi-sting that “the majority” of Commonwealth nations support Zimbabwe’s case for lifting its suspension. Clearly he didn’t read the statement by the South Pacific states which met recently. There was no suggestion there that Zimbabwe was about to be let off the hook. Admittedly, two of those South Pacific states were “white”. But the rest were decidedly not. And when you count all those little islands, they all add up to the numbers ranged against Zimbabwe and its dwindling band of friends. In any case, the Commonwealth moves by consensus, not a simple vote. And the consensus at the moment is that, whatever the views of Sadc and Nigeria, there are no grounds for lifting the suspension. Get it?


So who needs his head examined? Didymus Mutasa or the rest of us?

Responding to reports that Zimbabweans in the US had sought asylum there, Mutasa said those involved should have their heads examined.


“They are a crazy gang on a mission to spread falsehoods about their mother country,” he said. “Everything is normal in Zimbabwe and anyone who thinks otherwise should have his head examined.”


Now, how many people out there think “everything is normal in Zimbabwe”? Or can we safely suppose the Zanu PF leadership has a different definition of normality from the rest of us?


Whatever the case, we know who the real Crazy Gang are. They’re the guys in charge. Right Didymus?


Those of you who thought last year’s drought was the product of a regional dry spell have now been put straight by deputy Minister of Transport and Communications Christopher Mushowe. He told parliament that it was all part of the conspiracy against Zimbabwe.


The Department of Meteorological Services was operating without a legal framework, Mushowe pointed out. “Hence, enemies of the state are exploiting these loopholes as cloud-seeding can be used to disperse clouds, thereby contributing to drought weather as what happened last year.”


Please cut this out and send it to your friends overseas. We want the world to know about the Crazy Gang who think last year’s drought was the product of cloud-seeding. It takes a special sort of ministerial mind to trot out this nonsense. We are only surprised he didn’t attribute it to the Selous Scouts.


Perhaps Mushowe could remind us of where he obtained his university qualifications — and how. It was all an up-Hill struggle we gather!


Most Zimbabweans were under the impression that they liberated themselves in 1980. Not so, according to Libyan leader Moammar Gadaffi. We were liberated by Libya.

Gadaffi told a cheering crowd at a ceremony to mark the 34th anniversary of the coup that brought him to power that he had bought his way out of the Lockerbie imbroglio and paid for the liberation struggle of Palestinians and others.


“What is money for?” he was quoted as saying in the M&G. “With money we defend our country.”


“We liberated South Africa, Zimbabwe, Guinea Bissau, Cape Verde, and Angola. Now we are reaping the fruits of our struggle. Africa is with us and supports us.”

So that explains why President Mugabe feels obliged to hand over our national assets.


Finally, our quote of the week comes from Albert Musarurwa of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Forum.


Replying to claims from Zimbabwean diplomats that sanctions were causing hardships, he said: “The Zimbabwe economy is not melting down because Mugabe cannot go to New York.”


Nicely put Albert.