Million-dollar question

VP Joseph Msika has added a new item to the country’s luxuries. He told Zanu PF supporters at the weekend that there was no need to remove President Mugabe from office so long as he continues to serve the people.


“We do not change leaders as fast as we change our shirts,” said Msika. “In Zimbabwe we do not accept that. So the issue of changing a leader after a specified period is out of the question. It is a luxury we cannot afford. If they are still serving the people, then they should stay on or even die there,” Msika said with a straight face despite the grinding poverty in the country.

Although he said Zimbabwe has continued to excel despite so-called Western-induced sanctions, he didn’t have a shred of evidence for his captive audience, except inflation of nearly 15 000% and unemployment now estimated at 80%. That’s all the evidence one needs to show how far removed from reality Zimbabwe’s leaders are.

But this new template for Zimbabwe’s leadership shows us more: that none of those in the Zanu PF presidium wants to leave office alive unless they are forced to do so. One wonders what price is enough for Zimbabweans to be freed from the arthritic clutches of these octogenarians.

Another minister living in cloud cuckooland is Information minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu.

Speaking at a function for vocational training in Bulawayo last week, he said Zimbabwe’s unemployment was being exaggerated by the country’s detractors. He said a woman selling potatoes or tomatoes by the roadside could not be called unemployed. The same applied to youths selling cigarettes, he said.

If this is not desperation to defend the indefensible, then we don’t know what is. And this is what Msika means by Mugabe still serving the people and therefore deserving to remain in office for another five years?

Finally Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono speaks. He said they had adopted a wait-and-see attitude regarding the shortage of cash at banks.

He also said there will be no second price blitz as threatened by National Incomes and Pricing Commission chairperson Godwills Masimirembwa.

“We want to allay fears borne out of the speculation that the country was heading back to the blitz as was seen some weeks back,” said Gono.

“The rumours and speculation themselves seem to have emanated from misquotes of what the NIPC had said in respect of all imported goods,” he said.

With that, Gono said there would be no price blitz on imported goods. But the anxieties were not entirely due to speculation and rumour. According to the Zanu PF mouthpiece, The Voice, Masimirembwa said it.

“Definitely, there is going to be another price blitz as we have discovered that shops are now filled with imported goods which are substituting local products,” Masimirembwa told The Voice of November 11.

“These local products are supposed to be cheap, but they are not in the shops and are only found on the parallel market.”

He didn’t care then that a new price blitz would have as disastrous consequences as the first one in July, which Gono had opposed to no avail.

Apparently after some stern warning by Gono, Masimirembwa was forced to beat a haste retreat, unctuously telling reporters at the joint press conference on Tuesday that the NIPC had “never contemplated” banning the importation of goods.

“In an environment of mistrust, suspicions among stakeholders, it is very easy for negativities to be multiplied and spread like veld fires,” he said.

And negative is all he has been since that mighty leap from the pages of the Herald to the top of the NIPC. We can only hope that he has learnt his lesson about negative emissions.

The MDC must be a hell of an unfortunate opposition party. At every stage some one wants to infiltrate it to make life rosy for the bundling Zanu PF.

The party hasn’t recovered from convulsions it suffered when some of its members were bought by Zanu PF and enticed to break away. In the past few weeks it has been fighting for its soul after one of its most trusted lieutenants in the form of Lucia Matibenga was infiltrated and turned Lucifer by challenging her removal as head of the vociferous women’s assembly.

She lost her case in court, and there were celebrations in the party. Her issue became “water under the bridge” following the restaurant cabinet meeting in Bulawayo which chose Theresa Makone as its leader.

But that became not all. At the weekend there were reports of more fighting in the party. Matibenga’s ghost was seen making its way towards the party headquarters at Harvest House. It was only the swift reaction of the party’s vigilant militia that saved Morgan Tsvangirai from mortal danger.

The vigilante “kicked, kneed and felled” the group of women who were making their way to meet the party leader over some unresolved “issues”, according to state media reports.

This time even the MDC’s organising secretary defended the leader’s “unacceptable” sacking of Matibenga, saying the youth wing had been infiltrated. Whatever the case, said Elias Mudzuri, those who beat up “friends of Matibenga” were not bona fide MDC youths.

So which wing of the party is not yet infiltrated by the enemy we wonder?

here was a hilarious report in the Sunday Mail this week in which we were told that Zimbabwe was more than ready to counter a British invasion.

Former British armed forces boss Lord Charles Guthrie is said to have “revealed” that Britain had considered invading Zimbabwe on several occasions. The paper said the plan had not been executed for fear of Zimbabwe’s military capabilities.

Presidential spokesperson George Charamba spun out of control, saying a plan had been operationalised.

“We were also aware that short of a full-fledged invasion, the British were and are still contemplating the elimination of our political leadership through a number of assassinations,” he said.

The report said former British premier Tony Blair had been told the Zimbabwe Defence Forces was “a very capable” army. The evidence for this reputation were the wars in Mozambique and the DRC more than five years ago!

A delusional “defence source” also tried to demonstrate that Zimbabwe had defeated the British during its liberation war of the 1970s. “Britain also indirectly fought Zimbabwe’s two liberation movements during the Rhodesian war and was thus aware of Zimbabwe’s defence establishment from this historical experience,” the defence source warned.

We were reminded of Italy’s Benito Mussolini fooling his fellow gangster Hitler that he could mobilise a thousand aircraft just before the Second World War when in fact he didn’t have more than 300. What is the basis of Zimbabwe’s military capability we wonder when its soldiers are starving in the barracks?

Speaking of which, Retired Lieutenant Colonel Masala Sibanda who died last week and was buried in Bulawayo at the weekend must be turning in his grave. It was announced on Monday that Sibanda had been declared a national hero, which means his body must be exhumed and buried at the National Heroes Acre in Harare.

Explaining the bungling, Information secretary George Charamba said the delay in conferring Sibanda with national hero status was caused by the formal consultation process.

“Owing to this delay related to the scattered fixtures of most politburo members,” said Charamba, “Cde Sibanda had to be buried at the weekend in Bulawayo well ahead of both the consultations and the official programme which envisaged interment on Wednesday November 21 at the National Heroes Acre in Harare.”

This makes for curious reading given that most senior politburo members from Matabeleland region, including party chairman John Nkomo and Dumiso Dabengwa, attended Sibanda’s burial at Lady Stanley cemetery.

Writing of the Sibanda, the Herald says: “His name and activities are well-recorded at decisive moments in the struggle for national liberation.”

So why would consultations about his status take longer than normal? There is obviously more than meets the eye here, something to do with efforts to rewrite the history of the liberation struggle. Perhaps George could explain further.

Rotina Mavhunga has earned herself a place in Zimbabwe’s history as the villager who fooled a whole government into believing “pure” crude oil could be extracted from a stone. She is now famously known as the diesel n’anga for her feat.

But President Mugabe was apparently angry with this cheap hoax. He said he ordered her arrest after some of his cabinet colleagues started talking about the woman’s beauty. He said government wants to get to the bottom of the whole thing to find out who had planted the idea of diesel in the woman’s head.

That is the million dollar question. Muckraker doesn’t believe a poor rural woman who dropped out of school at Grade 3 could have spun this yarn on her own.

But we can safely conclude that whatever eventually comes out of these inquiries, the level of superstition reflects badly on government. No wonder we are in this mess.

Unfortunately that is not the end of the story. On Monday the Herald ran a story in which a group of traditional healers expressed their desire to continue working with government, especially the Ministry of Health.

“We therefore urge government to take stern measures against bogus n’angas who have brought our profession into disrepute,” said the group. Fine point. They need to talk to Didymus Mutasa first before they can think about injured reputations.

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