How will tourism police cope with Jocelyn?

A PICTURE tells a thousand words, they say, and nothing could mo

re poignantly illustrate the horrors of Zanu PF’s land “reforms” than the photograph carried by the Standard on its front page last Sunday.

It showed a champion Friesland dairy cow, known as Daisy Girl, hacked to death at Kennilworth Farm near Chipinge on the night of October 26 by suspected land invaders from a neighbouring property. This unsuspecting animal, used to the tender hands of its owners at one of the few dairy farms still functioning in the district, was hacked to death by people using blunt machetes. They went for her legs first and then attacked the remaining carcass.

We hope the picture is reproduced as widely as possible. Much has been written about the lawlessness and violence that has been the trademark of Zanu PF’s land occupations in so far as they have impacted on farmers and their workers. It is estimated that up to 500 000 people have been made homeless in the only land reform programme in history that has dispossessed more people than it has resettled (134 000).

But we rarely see the tragedy that has afflicted livestock, including beef and dairy herds built up with care and planning over decades. Those vast investments in money and man-hours have been laid waste by mobs of ruling-party supporters who have cruelly slaughtered or neglected one of the country’s most valuable resources.

Then there is the wildlife poached, estimated at 60% of the total in some places.

Don’t let’s hear again of President Mugabe’s “bold stance” on the land issue or the fulfilment of some historic mission without looking at the pictures of the dumb creatures who are just another statistic of Zanu PF’s lawless mobs.

Another victim of lawlessness has been the country’s tourism industry. Tourists have stayed away in droves from what they understandably see as an unpredictable state where human rights abuses take place on a daily basis. There has recently been a campaign in the government media, led by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority, to pretend that tourists are returning to Zimbabwe.

There is of course no evidence whatsoever for this. Reports that the police appear reluctant to apprehend those responsible for the expulsion of tourists from Hippo Pools recently and the theft of their property helps to explain the continued absence of visitors which no amount of sloppily produced colour brochures and deceptive CD-Roms can entice back!

But, the eternally optimistic state media tells us, in a move to “further boost the rapidly recovering tourist sector”, the government has established a tourism police. Crimes against tourists will now be dealt with separately, the Zimbabwe Council for Tourism’s Paul Matamisa told the Sunday Mail. This would restore confidence in the country’s tourism industry, he said.

The ZRP has recruited 22 officers who were currently undergoing training, he added. So far, so good.

But the story then suffered a severe credibility crisis when it was disclosed that “Harare business woman Jocelyn Chiwenga” had “donated 22 uniforms” in support of the scheme.

This we assume is the same Jocelyn Chiwenga who was reported to have assaulted lawyer Gugulethu Moyo at Glen View police station in March? The same Jocelyn Chiwenga who gave police officers their marching orders regarding what to do with Moyo and how to treat her?

It evidently has not occurred to those behind the tourism police scheme that there is absolutely no point setting up a special force when the regular force takes its orders from ruling-party harridans who they decline to prosecute for assault despite the fact that a crime was committed on their own property in front of their very eyes!

Did Matamisa, ZCT president Shingi Munyeza, and other private-sector players cited in the Sunday Mail story as enthusiastic supporters of the tourism police scheme not explain this fact of life to the authorities, or the significance of allowing the Hippo Pools incident, including the assault on the resort’s manager, to go unprosecuted? Are foreign tourists aware that they are likely to be searched and have their foreign currency confiscated at any time, as happened over the weekend to visitors from Zambia?

Perhaps Greg Stutchbury, who was waxing lyrical on an international radio station last week about the Victoria Falls Hotel and the prospect of a tourism recovery there without once referring to the governance issue, could bring us one of the Far Eastern tourists he imagines seeing there. We are keen to actually identify one of these elusive species who we are told can be spotted on golf courses in the vicinity of the Falls. Perhaps Greg could dart and capture one and relocate it to our office for verification. If all else fails he could use his butterfly net!

Uganda’s president Yoweri Museveni should not be surprised if Uganda is given a wide berth when Commonwealth leaders decide on the next venue for Chogm in 2005. It doesn’t have much of a chance as it is, with Africa hosting Chogm this year. But the pronouncements of Museveni’s special envoy, Prof Mondo Kagonyera, last week will have advertised his country’s unsuitability.

Courting Zimbabwe’s support, Kagonyera cast caution to the wind and proclaimed Zimbabwe had done nothing to warrant suspension from the Commonwealth.

“Zimbabwe has done nothing wrong nor faulted any of the rules of the Commonwealth,” he declared after meeting President Mugabe.

In fact Zimbabwe has not only violated every single tenet of the Harare Declaration, it has failed to meet the terms of the Commonwealth Troika set out in the Marlborough House statement of March 2002; in other words, the terms enunciated by Olusegun Obasanjo and Thabo Mbeki together with John Howard when Zimbabwe was suspended. These involve addressing issues of governance and engaging with the Commonwealth secretary-general Don McKinnon in finding a way forward.

Zimbabwe refused to even allow McKinnon to visit Harare to discuss the issue!

How Kagonyera can then proclaim that Zimbabwe had done nothing to warrant suspension beggars belief. Clearly, Uganda is prepared to ignore the sustained assault on the civil rights of the Zimbabwean people in order to secure Zimbabwe’s support for the next Chogm to be held in Kampala.

That makes Uganda a particularly unsuitable candidate. Countries which ignore human rights abuses, electoral fraud and attacks on press freedom are not appropriate hosts. Uganda was among the many countries consulted by McKinnon before the Commonwealth decided not to lift the suspension. A clear majority of the 54 member states agreed with the secretariat that the suspension should remain in place until the Abuja summit. We don’t recall Uganda raising any objection at the time.

The state media has decided that the majority should be ignored in favour of a minority of two which has subsequently risen to five! Meanwhile, Obasanjo, who was prevailed upon to write a rather embarrassing letter to Australia’s John Howard making all sorts of claims that have turned out to be untrue, is now having second thoughts. This week he made it clear to Mugabe that Zimbabwe had not done enough to meet the terms set out at the time of its suspension. There has not been the “sea change” he talked about in New York last month. So Zimbabwe’s case — and Uganda’s — is looking increasingly lame.

Cde UT Surface this week tried to let Mugabe’s followers down gently. It would be difficult for the president to go to Abuja, he explained, because Mugabe would be attending the Zanu PF conference in Masvingo at the time. What a coincidence!

What was Joseph Chinotimba doing conducting the draw for the second round of the Zifa Unity Cup last week? He was pictured in the Sunday Mail digging his hand into the trophy containing the ballots with the assistance of Zifa chief executive Ndumiso Gumede. Nothing more clearly exposes the politicisation of soccer.

Chinotimba was the self-styled commander-in-chief of farm invasions on the periphery of Harare in 2000 and a controversial municipal police official who mysteriously kept his job while being occupied elsewhere: for instance, threatening judges.

He was rewarded for his delinquency with a 4×4, from whom we are unsure. He is also, we should remind ourselves, Zanu PF’s failed candidate for the Highfield seat earlier this year.

So exactly what was he doing conducting the draw for the Zifa Unity Cup? What value does he add to Zifa? And what, as a matter of interest, is his current source of income?

At least Zifa have said they will tighten up the selection criteria for fans accompanying the Warriors on foreign tours after the looting of duty-free shops in Accra and Nouakchott last week. Taking advantage of understaffed shops as their plane put down en route to the World Cup qualifier, fans helped themselves to a variety of goods, it was reported. Perfumes, beer, whisky, chocolates, and magazines were scooped up by the Zimbabwe supporters as staff failed to cope.

In the Mauritanian capital trusting locals were assured the Zimdollar was on a par with the greenback. Traders and taxi drivers only discovered their mistake when banks reopened after the Islamic weekend. Zimbabwe National Supporters Association vice-president Eddie Nyatanga exempted “reputable businessmen and corporate leaders” in the party from any wrongdoing.

“Such people can never lower themselves to steal a can of beer,” he reassured us!

Jonathan Moyo gave a few hostages to fortune in his address to the Zimbabwe Staff College on Monday.

“The judiciary had been the first choice of attack,” he was reported as saying, “in efforts aimed at regime change since almost the whole bench was hostile to land reform.”

It was not entirely clear from the Herald report who was doing the attacking and when!

But we liked the bit about the British and Americans wanting to give the impression that politicians were living well while most people were suffering, “when in fact there are some people who live luxurious lives but are not necessarily in government”.

“It was surprising,” Moyo said, “with ordinary people finding it difficult to survive that there were some people who were able to buy luxurious goods including posh cars.”

Yes indeed. We heard about those people filling up their posh cars with goods in Johannesburg just after Christmas. We heard about people who were definitely in government using scarce forex to load 4x4s and trailers for the return journey to Zimbabwe after partying with their families at plush Johannesburg hotels at a time when half the population of Zimbabwe faced starvation.

Moyo claimed people were tired of “propaganda” from the private media which had been predicting for the last four years that the country would collapse. Journalists for these papers had become “spent forces” he said, far removed from reality.

And Moyo, we take it, represents reality? The reality of a country that is not anywhere near collapse?

Moyo seems nervous about his own future. Debate on the succession issue outside the institutional framework was “dangerous”, he warned.

“We should not be misled as a nation that the succession debate is important for everybody when those who are pushing for it seek to redefine our social being,” he said.  Those pushing the succession debate would want to make it appear that the target was the president when in actual fact the aim was to uproot the country’s whole social fabric, he claimed. It was all about regime change, not succession.

So who’s worried here? Who’s clinging to Mugabe’s coat-tails for dear life? Who wants to smother debate?

If the British and Americans have failed in creating the conditions for regime change why is Moyo so obsessed by it?

While Moyo claims the public is tired of what the private press has been saying about the regime, the Herald last Friday suggested popular sentiment is not exactly pro-Zanu PF.

“Streetwise illegal dealers can be heard on the pavements of many streets slandering the president, lampooning the land reform programme, and castigating the state for allegedly bringing about an economic milieu that is unfavourable to the common man,” the paper disclosed.

So there you have it. People actually slandering the president and lampooning land reform. Next they will be suggesting we need a new government!

It is all the fault of the West of course. But despite “cataclysmic vicissitudes the Zimbabwe economy has demonstrated near-outlandish resilience”. And Pollyanna-like, the Herald believes it won’t take a lot to put things right.

“We believe that if all Zimbabweans put their hands on deck, our economy will come right soon,” it said. “During the Great Depression of the first half of the last century the economies of many countries tittered (sic) on the brink of collapse but are among the best today.”

Many people will have had difficulty suppressing a titter on reading this! All we have to do is put our hands to the deck of the Titanic and all will be OK. After all, the US emerged from the Great Depression and is today doing fine. Let’s just hope it doesn’t take 10 years and a world war to put us right! Oh yes, and we need somebody to play FDR.

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