Congress just a nod for

WE should establish an award for the daftest claim made in public during the course of the year. There would admittedly be strong competition.

A leading candidate putt

ing in his bid before entries close is Jamaican reggae star Luciano. He told a gullible ZTV interviewer that his backing band had been denied visas to transit through London because the British authorities took exception to his support for President Mugabe’s land “reforms”.

Did it not occur to the interviewer to ask: “Well, how come you made it here then?”

Luciano may be well-known to his many fans. But can the beastly British really be blamed for exercising caution when Jamaicans constitute the largest single group of illegal aliens in the UK — exceeding even Zimbabweans!

No, it had nothing to do with Mugabe’s land policy. It was the content of those hats that led to official suspicions.

By the way, how many members of Cosatu or journalists have been refused entry to Zimbabwe for political reasons? Dozens. Have they ever been interviewed on ZTV — perhaps by phone from Johannesburg — about how mean the Zimbabwean authorities are?

The ZTA’s Karikoga Kaseke was once again on hand to promote a partisan message. Then he can’t understand why British tourists don’t want to come here. However enthusiastic Luciano’s message of solidarity, you can count the number of Jamaican tourists on one hand. Now Luciano has pocketed Kaseke’s largesse (or rather ours) we won’t be seeing him again for a while. And who was impressed by the blubbing scene? Was it part of the script?

Vice-President Joseph Msika had “no kind words”, we are told, for white farmers who “shunned national events”. He urged them to work “with the party”. He was speaking at a Zanu PF fund-raising event in Dete.

The “challenges” the country was facing were “a temporary setback and a passing phase”, Msika said.

Actually this week marks the 10th anniversary of when this “passing phase” commenced! And it’s not just whites who don’t want to attend party events where they are abused. Zimbabweans generally, and particularly those in Matabeleland, don’t like being lied to about the country’s economic “setbacks”.

No intelligent person believes Britain and the US are responsible for the failure of land reform or inflation of 8 000%. They are the direct product of incompetence and incorrigible misrule. The people of Dete won’t be fooled. However badly behaved the opposition MDC may be, they will vote for them because the present bunch of scoundrels are a great deal worse. That is the rather sad reality.

Perhaps Msika should put himself up for election so the people of Matabeleland can show him what they think of him and his claims of a “passing phase”.

Why is the state media so keen to tell us that the forthcoming special congress will be “a mere formality” to confirm President Mugabe as the ruling party’s candidate.

This week the Herald quoted Emmerson Mnangagwa as saying the congress had not been called to find a new presidential candidate but to ratify recent changes to the constitution.

What is the problem here? Is Zanu PF so terrified of a serious challenge to Mugabe that it has to repeat at every opportunity that he is the only candidate?

Don’t we recall the president saying some time ago that his candidacy would be determined at congress? Then when that date looms (and the state media has at last been allowed to publish the date) the party’s luminaries run around saying there will be no challenge to him and how important it is for everybody to “rally behind Cde Mugabe”.

How pathetic? Can’t he stand the heat of an open contest? Does it really need war veterans on the warpath and people like Mnangagwa to crack down on any possible dissent? A pity nobody has said “the president will be judged on his record”.

Zanu PF should understand how bad it looks when elections are treated as “a mere formality” and then supporters are coerced into backing the incumbent.

That they can’t see how bad this looks tells us everything we need to know about the mindset in the party. And is it true Zanu PF and the MDC are having a delinquency competition around electoral issues? Difficult to know who’s winning!

The chair of the ZEC George Chiweshe says members of the public would be invited to suggest ways of bettering the delimitation process in their constituencies.

Muckraker’s suggestion: Just make sure Tobaiwa Mudede is not involved at any stage.

But we appreciated Chiweshe’s assurance that the ZEC would not be under anyone’s control. “We are independent and I can freely defend this,” Chiweshe said.

We will need to test that resolve when it comes to inviting observers.

Meanwhile, at a time when Zanu PF is pretending to be as pure as the driven snow when it comes to matters of political violence, it is rather unfortunate to have the Sunday News urging the party to take advantage of the MDC’s disarray and “go for the kill…go for the jugular”.

Many of us remember the last time this language was used in the 1980s and the consequences.

In an article headed “Farmers hail court ruling”, the Herald reported this week that resettled farmers had welcomed the landmark ruling by the Supreme Court allowing government to acquire all farming equipment and machinery on farms gazetted for compulsory acquisition and resettlement.

Resettled farmers were quoted saying the step was needed so former white farmers could be compensated expeditiously.

“It would be a sad day for our calls for social justice,” one resettled farmer said, “if our government were to fail to build on the momentum of the judgement by losing this golden opportunity of paying off the erstwhile farmers.”

He wasn’t asked what sort of social justice permitted the state to seize people’s property at will and then give it to somebody else. What sort of social justice was exercised when the company running a highly profitable operation at Kondozi Estate reportedly had its equipment seized by ministers for their personal use?

Where compensation is paid it will be in a currency that is losing its value by the day.

There will be an element of triumphalism in Zanu PF as a result of the Supreme Court’s ruling. But have any of the party’s luminaries stopped to think of what impression will be created abroad of a government that is empowered to seize the work of a lifetime, render compensation meaningless and then call it justice?

Readers of the Herald will have noticed a rather ugly campaign in the official media to rubbish Bornwell Chakaodza. He is an obvious target having served as Director of Information and Editor of the Herald. The word “turncoat” can thus be put to good use.

Muckraker, who was the target of Chakaodza’s vitriol when he served as editor at the Herald, is not going to weigh in here. Suffice it to say the current assault arose following a letter to the editor of the Financial Gazette taking Chakaodza to task for his criticism of Zanu PF. Chakaodza replied giving his critic, Goodson Nguni, acres of space to attack him by publishing the letter in his Fingaz column. Chakaodza replied in the same column dealing relatively briefly with his critic.

The Herald then published the same letter attacking Chakaodza but evidently did not think it appropriate to ask Chakaodza for his response.

Would the correspondence not have been more interesting if the Herald had given Chakaodza the right of reply? As it is, Chakaodza’s editorials attacking the Independent in 1999 are published to prove — we are not quite sure what!

Is Chakaodza the only person in Zimbabwe to see the light and change his mind?

Some might suggest this is all good robust journalism. But surely only when everyone has had their say.

THE Grain Marketing Board this week cheerfully announced it had won a tender to rehabilitate Zambian grain silos.

“We have extensive silo infrastructure at our 14 depots across the country which have the capacity to store 750 000 tonnes of grain and it reflects the experience we have within our engineers to refurbish and service the silos,” said GMB boss Rtd Colonel Samuel Muvuti.

He however forgot to say that all the potential we have is currently redundant because the silos are empty. Instead of exporting grain to feed the region, Muvuti can now only brag about exporting labour instead.

Isn’t this shameful that Muvuti distributes thousands of tonnes of seed and fertiliser to farmers annually but administers empty silos? Also, we want to be told at the end of the contract how many of the silo engineers have returned to Zimbabwe after their tour of duty.

Still on the subject of farming UMP MP Kenneth Mutiwekuziva provided useful disclosure on how the “mother of all agricultural seasons” will be executed this year.

“Farmers should be innovative and come up with alternatives they can use if the fertiliser availed to them does not meet their needs,” he told The Voice. “People can use manure or home-made fertiliser they can prepare using tree leaves and ash.”

It’s back to the slash and burn mode of agriculture. No wonder we have so many forest fires and wanton chopping down of trees. Also while other districts are receiving tractors and other modern implements, UMP will only get ox-drawn ploughs. Is this the reward the people of UMP are getting for overwhelmingly voting for Mugabe or is it their MP being honest about their level of development?

The situation at Zesa goes from bad to worse. Power cuts are spreading across the country interrupting major functions. Much of Manicaland was in darkness last weekend and guests at the Zimbabwe Council for Tourism AGM and awards ceremony in Nyanga had to make do with candles in their rooms. They were provided with local matches which failed to ignite obliging many to use their cellphones.

ZTA boss Kaseke failed to appear at the ZCT function because he was too tied up with the Luciano concert and the propaganda that went with it.

Should the ZTA be involved in reggae concerts and dubious beauty contests when it should be doing the serious work of reviving tourism?

In Harare victims of blackouts are now collecting Zesa engineers from their offices and ferrying them to substations and power lines. They are also providing diesel. Zesa staff now spend much of the day sitting at their desks reading the papers because they have no fuel to attend to power failures.

Much of the power utility’s problems stem from stolen cables, we are told. This is hardly surprising when substations cannot be locked and are therefore vulnerable to theft. Everything has a value in today’s Zimbabwe, even if there is a risk of getting fried, and Zesa should take steps to secure substations or the situation will further deteriorate.

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