What’s hidden in the Pandora’s box?
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PRESIDENTIAL apologist George Charamba seems miffed by our reference to his little learning being a dangerous thing. He wants it known that in addition to a diploma from the University of Cardiff, he has two degrees from the University of Zimbabwe and another two from “some university in South Africa”.

Why he is shy to reveal which university we don’t know. But you would have thought with all those impressive qualifications he would be able to spell Muckraker correctly.

We didn’t get the reference (nor did anybody else we asked) to the “Anglican archbishop” anointing clerics. The Anglican archbishop responsible for Zimbabwe is based in Lusaka. There is another one in Cape Town responsible for South Africa. The only Anglican prelate here we know about is the one with Zanu PF credentials who has been helping himself to somebody else’s land as a reward for worshipping Robert Mugabe.

If George has any “sexy” information on this scoundrel perhaps he could let us know. Tessa (not Tassar) van Staden, by the way, is a lady.

Instead of trying to justify himself in the pages of the captive press, Charamba should focus on improving his public relations skills. He is a public servant paid by the taxpayer but has a really bad attitude when it comes to inquiries from the press. Asked by this newspaper last Thursday about the president’s health, he declared that he was not going to “legitimise” our story by deigning to answer the question.

This is somebody who is employed to answer questions from the press. And answer them honestly. His office only a few weeks ago deliberately misled the press about Vice-President Simon Muzenda’s health.

Is it not the task of courts to create precedents as well as follow them? We ask because there was a plethora of “legal experts” in the Herald last Saturday claiming the Administrative Court’s ruling on the Daily News was “unprecedented”.

The judge “went astray by conducting a wide inquiry”, one of these dubious experts observed. He had opened a Pandora’s box, it was claimed. Indeed he had — for the state!

One can understand why these “experts” were reluctant to be named given the quality of advice emanating from them. They questioned that part of the ruling that required the Minister of Information to reconstitute the Media and Information Commission, “yet the minister was not represented in court”.

So somebody else is expected to clean up his mess?

The Sunday Mail, always prepared to sniff out a plot where none exists, said there were “raised eyebrows” at the speed with which the Daily News hit the streets after the judgement.

“Police are wondering whether they had advance knowledge of the judgement with some people suggesting that some British assisted them in compiling the newspaper outside (the) paper’s normal working place.”

The first suggestion comes dangerously close to contempt of court, something lawyers close to the regime have been accusing the Daily News of, while the second is symptomatic of Zanu PF’s paranoid dementia.

Who are these “some people” making the charge? And who are these “some British” who managed to go unobserved by the ever-present “surveillance” system put in place by the same not-so-intelligent people feeding the Sunday Mail with these brain-dead stories?

“Legal experts” were also quoted as saying lawyers who advised their clients to flee their homes were obstructing the police from carrying out their duties.

The police have been in the habit of arresting people on a Friday and Saturday and detaining them over the weekend. If they now have difficulty finding people when they want to interview them they should not be surprised. Last weekend a former High Court judge who is an ANZ director was detained until other ANZ directors agreed to turn themselves in. He was only released on Monday afternoon after his lawyers obtained a court order.

Nothing wrong with that, Wayne Bvudzijena disarmingly remarked. Police never intended to lay charges “but merely wanted to establish who had given the directive to have the paper published without a licence”.

So illegal detention is a means of inquiry?

“If you hide from police, it means you have something to hide,” one gullible “expert” told the Herald.

No, it simply means you don’t want the police abusing their powers of arrest in order to detain you when there is absolutely no grounds for them to do so. What possible justification can there have been for the arrest of Sam Nkomo’s niece? All she did wrong was to answer the door. Now she faces a charge of breaching the peace in her own home!

And there was little point Bvudzijena saying the police had finalised compiling dockets for Daily News reporters arrested for practising without accreditation. Now the Media and Information Commission has been declared to have been improperly constituted, the ANZ’s lawyers will have a case for arguing that any decisions it made, including registration, are null and void.

A Pandora’s box indeed! One “legal expert” phoned Muckraker this week to point out that if the whole registration process is now null and void, then Tafataona Mahoso, whose manifest bias was the reason for his court setback last Friday, was writing “unlicensed” in his turgid Sunday Mail contribution this week.

Asked in court if he was an accredited journalist, he had replied that he was. Asked who licensed him, he said the commission. What a Tafa-fiasco!

The best quote to come out of all this was from the unnamed police spokesman who said: “Under no circumstances will authorities in this country tolerate those who act outside the law.”

He meant apart from the killers of Talent Mabika, Tichaona Chiminya, David Stevens, Gloria Olds and Martin Olds, the torturers of Mark Chavunduka, Ray Choto, Job Sikhala and Gabriel Shumba, and the vicious woman who attacked lawyer Gugulethu Moyo in a police station.

Apart from these and many others, the authorities will under no circumstances tolerate those who act outside the law! The latest victim of these “authorities” was another lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa.

We liked the Standard’s interview with Ian Smith who is looking a bit like Robinson Crusoe. Perhaps that’s because Zimbabwe is beginning to resemble a desert island. Foreign journalists coming here used to beat a path to Smith’s door. But did they really need to interview him? A banner in his driveway saying “Told you so” would have been all that was needed!

His Standard interview was very much along those lines. We doubt very much that, whatever the delinquency of the Mugabe regime, people really “want to restore Rhodesia to what it was”.

He is evidently still in denial about the period 1965-80. But it is testimony to how bad things are now that Smith can get away with claims of this sort!

He did however make one interesting point: “Mugabe and Zanu PF only appeared to be good during the early years (of their rule),” he said, “because they were feeding off the fat of Rhodesia.”

Muckraker is surprised how indulgent newspapers have been with Edgar Tekere’s antics in Mutare. He has been courted by Zanu PF and has accepted their offer of remarriage.

Tekere was the first — after the students — to launch a crusade against corruption in government in the 1980s. He referred to the “vampire” class around Mugabe. And he commented that the country’s democracy was in the “intensive care unit” after Zanu PF and Zapu merged in 1987.

Why hasn’t he been asked if the situation today is any different? Is the government any less corrupt? Have the vampires retired? Is democracy alive and well?

Media scrutiny of dancing politicians is a vital function if accountability is to work. Allowing Tekere to get away with his unseemly romance with Zanu PF is as bad as allowing Eddison Zvobgo to get away with his lack of courage in tackling Mugabe. There are thousands of Zimbabweans making huge sacrifices for democracy every day across this country and Tekere chooses this moment to sleep with the enemy. What does that say about his judgement?

We hope Zvobgo recovers quickly from his current illness so he can find his voice amidst Zanu PF’s emasculated leadership where even the main contenders for high office are obliged to say they have no such ambitions. And Tekere is in danger of never being taken seriously again if he falls for the fatal embrace of a party that has so wilfully infected Zimbabwe.

Congratulations to the Herald for running the daftest heading in many months: “Tsvangirai seeking legal ways to beach law — lawyer”.

The lawyer to whom this absurdity was attributed, Terence Hussein, is quoted as saying in his heads of argument at the High Court ahead of Tsvangirai’s electoral petition that: “It has been shown in the main (petition) the petitioner has sought to create legal breaches of the law by having this honourable court declare certain laws invalid.”

Could somebody take Terence aside and quietly explain to him that if it is legal it is not a breach of the law. And if the laws, such as those passed by presidential fiat instead of by parliament, are found to be invalid, then they weren’t legal in the first place.

How many O Levels does it take to become a state lawyer nowadays?

Another Herald heading catching our attention was: “Zim to get tractors from China”.

This rang a bell. Haven’t we seen this before somewhere? What happened to the last lot of tractors from China? How were they distributed and where are they now?

Meanwhile, we are following the Malaysian tractor deal with interest. The Malaysians will supply the country, we are told, with 50 000 two-wheel drive tractors, 2 000 four-wheel drive tractors, 100 bulldozers, 300 combine harvesters, 1 000 planters, 10 000 boom sprayers and water pumps.

Seeing is believing, they say. We suspect these figures are the same as those for people resettled — very wide of the mark.

Herald commentator Caesar Zvayi appears to think that David Livingstone was a “cohort” of Cecil John Rhodes. Does he have any idea when Livingstone died and when Rhodes was born? This is evidently another case of “a little learning” being “a dangerous thing”. Let’s hope Zvayi is not a product of the Charamba Academy for the Terminally Delusional from which a number of Herald numbskulls have graduated in recent years. We wouldn’t mind them so much if they didn’t advertise their ignorance with quite such fanfare in articles headed “Colonial monuments a shame to Pan-Africanism”.

Zvayi’s central complaint? There are not enough children’s dolls “with negroid features” on sale in Harare. Black mothers are “falling over each other” to buy those with “Caucasian features”.

This for Zvayi and his highly-placed sponsors is the burning issue of the day.

It is time perhaps for another ministerial taskforce to investigate this scandal. But seriously folks, who exactly is shaming Africa with twaddle of this sort!

Muckraker is livid. Some entrepreneur has cut out our remarks about deputy transport minister Christopher Mushowe and sent them to the Financial Mail in Johannesburg thus earning for himself the handsome reward of “a fashionable set of Lanco men’s and ladies watches”.

We quoted Mushowe saying the Department of Meteorological Servi-ces was operating without a licence.

“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”.

We thought it took a special sort of ministerial mind to trot out such nonsense so we invited readers to cut the quote out and send it to friends abroad so they would have some idea of the Crazy Gang that rules us.

Our reader evidently took us at our word and sent it to the Financial Mail. Now they are sporting a fine set of watches. In the best national tradition, Muckraker hereby demands a share of the booty or writs will be flying from our solicitors, Messrs Snatch, Grabbit & Runne who are perfectly capable of causing breaches in bank accounts where necessary!

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