Who woke up Munacho Mutezo?

WHO woke up Engineer Munacho Mutezo? The Minister of State for Water Resources and Infrastructural Development was having a nice long nap when suddenly he woke up and started waving his fists around.

Nobody had heard of him before that!

Addressing a police passing out parade, he said the police should safeguard government’s “achievements” since Independence. These “achievements” presumably include the Kunzvi Dam that was never built and the Tokwe-Mukosi Dam that after nine years is still not complete.

Other “achievements” include 80% unemployment, a moribund health system, and a toxic economic climate that has driven three million Zimbabweans to seek a better future with the “Western imperialists” Mutezo castigates.

Exactly how the police are expected to safeguard these “achievements” is a mystery. But perhaps what he meant was more in line with what President Mugabe said in Cairo recently when he appeared to endorse police violence against ZCTU demonstrators. Mutezo referred to “fly-by-night imperialist agents” who were “bent on destabilising our country and effecting regime change through unwarranted subversive activities and contrived demonstrations backed by the West”.

The security of the nation came first, Mutezo warned. “Our security forces would not fold their arms while they (imperialist agents) destroy properties and infrastructure that the government painstakingly constructed since 1980.”

As most of that infrastructure is now in a state of advanced decay it would be difficult for anybody to “destroy” it. And what evidence does the minister have of “subversive activities” by “imperialist agents”? The last time the state tried to make a case against people in Mutare it was thrown out of court with a strong judicial rebuke to the state agents responsible for cooking up such charges and arbitrarily arresting people.

Should a minister presiding at a passing out parade of police officers not be reminding them of their duty to uphold the rule of law; reminding them that Zimbabweans have rights that need to be protected from the depredations of paranoid and petulant politicians whose approval of state violence has given Zimbabwe a terrible reputation for misrule and repression?

That’s what Mutezo should be doing, not parroting the facile mantras of his malevolent master. When Mutezo has actually achieved something in his job he might be in a position to speak out on public occasions. Until then we suggest he goes back to sleep.

Mutezo spoke of a peaceful nation where “the citizens cooperate with the government”.

Evidently, citizens have been letting the government down by not cooperating with it. They will need to be shown the error of their ways so that in future they are more cooperative. The government clearly expects the police to give a lead in this regard.

Mutezo congratulated the police for their role in Operation Sunrise.

“The ZRP is challenged with the sole mandate to enforce government policies and ensure compliance by all stakeholders,” he said.

“Enforcing compliance” are the key words here.

Former Botswana President Sir Ketumile Masire has published his autobiography which provides useful insights into what our neighbours think of us, VOA radio reports. Masire refers to the “political and economic destruction of Zimbabwe” in recent years. He speaks of the “persecution of many Africans and the destruction of the capacity of the economy to function”.

The ex-president’s book, titled Very Brave or Very Foolish: Memoirs of an African Diplomat, was published by Macmillan in Gaborone to coincide with the recent 40th anniversary of Botswana’s Independence. Masire says that his relationship with President Mugabe was chilly from the start when Botswana maintained a close relationship with Joshua Nkomo, Mugabe’s rival in Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle.

Mugabe “appeared to mistrust us”, Masire writes. The author says he hoped relations would improve once Zimbabwe had secured its Independence, but says those hopes were dashed when Harare imposed duties on imports from Botswana in what he calls “a violation of our free trade agreement”.

Historian Jeff Ramsay, who is also press secretary to Botswana’s current President Festus Mogae, said Masire’s book is one of the first accounts of the liberation period from a senior participant. Attorney Tafadzwa Mugabe of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights told VOA that the criticism from Masire is welcome — but comes when the damage has been done.

Muckraker is pleased to see the Law Society of Zimbabwe responding to allegations made by Tafataona Mahoso. By publishing it prominently on its op/ed pages, the Sunday Mail offered a stark contrast between the rational and measured tones of the LSZ’s piece and the maladroit nationalist posturing that characterises Mahoso’s peripatetic column. But the Sunday Mail does itself no service by allowing youngsters on its staff to write in defence of Aippa. This simply confirms the widely held view that some people posing as journalists are in fact state public relations officers. Defending the arrest and prosecution of their colleagues in the independent press for the imagined offence of “abusing journalistic privilege” is not a career-enhancing move and exposes them to charges of professional castration.

But they did make one significant concession in their fumbling piece.

“The LSZ and its colleagues have never bothered to educate their constituents of the good embodied in Aippa,” they wrote, “to the worrying extent that the rest of the populace now view it in the same blinkered perspective — a draconian piece of legislation…”

So, some progress there!

And while we would congratulate the LSZ on exposing Mahoso’s factual errors, the legal body needs editorial help when listing its functions. Sometimes less is better, a point that Mahoso never seems to grasp. But he did provide us with a laugh over his claim that Zimbabwe was winning the image war. Does it seem like that? Anyway, for that to happen he has got to know what he is talking about. It would be useful for instance to know the correct name of the independent newspaper that appears on a Sunday. It is not called the Sunday Standard. And has he ever been to Cape Town? Afrikaner accents are not common in that part of the country and that great block of granite is not called Table Bay Mountain, it is called Table Mountain!

It is this sort of carelessness and ignorance that isolates Mahoso from those he seeks to lecture in his African Focus column. The image problem will remain so long as people like him speak for the regime.

The land reform programme, declared officially over in August 2004 by President Robert Mugabe, is still yielding a grim harvest.

This week the Herald reported that the sons of Sunday Mail chief reporter Emilia Zindi had allegedly murdered Lameck Wonder and tried to conceal the deed by burning and then burying his remains in a shallow grave.

Zindi is the proud owner of Hippo Valley Farm in Chegutu where the incident took place. Emilia’s sons, Mike and Misheck, reportedly beat and killed the guard at their farm after he told them an electric switchboard and a water pump had been stolen.

Emilia is one of many prominent beneficiaries of the often violent land reform programme during which a number of white commercial farmers were murdered in cold blood, one of them abducted from a police

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