Birds of a feather flock together

BISHOP Nolbert Kunonga was in Kampala, Uganda last week to defend President Mugabe’s policies at the start of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

He made two startling cla

ims for any bishop. First, he said the West should stop demonising Mugabe as he was democratically-elected. This is an extraordinary claim given that Mugabe’s election in the 2002 presidential polls is still the subject of court challenge amid claims by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change that he rigged his way back to State House.

The other claim was even more scandalous. “There are no human rights abuses in Zimbabwe at all,” declared Kunonga. “There are problems which every African country faces, but these problems are being exaggerated by the West led by Britain,” he said.

Is it the considered position of the Anglican Church that there are no human rights abuses at all in Zimbabwe? Are those the views of his congregants who dare support opposition parties against Zanu PF’s hegemony?

We must indeed get worried when churchmen use their positions of authority to mislead the world about what happens under their nose. We also must ask questions about who paid for Kunonga’s trip and what his real mission was. Is the Anglican Church in Zimbabwe prepared to prostitute its religious integrity in the service of dubious political ends?

Zambian Airways has decided to stop daily flights between Lusaka and Harare from December 1. The airline cited “rough business” as a major constraint to viability.

In particular the airline cited high fuel costs and extreme currency fluctuations in Zimbabwe as a key negative factor.

This is bad news for Zimbabwe, coming so soon after the withdrawal of British Airways this month.

Contrary to official claims about African solidarity, it does appear like Zimbabwe’s circle of friends is getting smaller by the day, that is if the jaunt to Mozambique this week for the handover of Cahora Bassa is an expression of solidarity.

Meanwhile Namibia’s Health minister Richard Kamwi said Sadc fully supported Zimbabwe and called for the immediate lifting of Western sanctions.

Speaking at the launch of the Sadc Malaria Week in Victoria Falls, he said: “Sadc has resolved that I affirm that we stand by Zimbabwe. I affirm that we continue to stand by Zimbabwe and value the immense contribution of this blessed land to the southern African region in particular and to the rest of the African continent in general.”

Indeed Zimbabwe has made an immense contribution to the region by training health staff who now man hospitals in the region including in Namibia. Poaching staff from poor Zimbabwe is the cheapest way for regional countries to develop their health sectors. It is shameful that this is all Zimbabwe can hope for at the moment — a pat on the back when its own hospitals do not have personnel and drugs.

President Robert Mugabe was on hand to boast about how Zimbabwe has managed to reduce the Aids prevalence rate from 18,1% to around 13%.

He didn’t explain fully how this had been achieved although claims abound that this may be due to people leaving the country or death. He did not also reveal the contribution of American money in the form of USAid in providing cheap condoms and running campaigns.

In his latest diatribe against European civilisation in the Sunday Mail, Media and Information Commission chair Tafataona Mahoso says Africans have failed to fully study and understand Europe.

He says a majority of Africans have brought from Europe foreign currency without any critical understanding of the continent from the point of view of Africa’s strategic interests.

“Africans have brought back from Europe white husbands or white wives, still without much critical understanding of Europe and white ‘civilisation’ to serve and protect African strategic interests,” he says. Perhaps Bright Matonga might care to comment, or someone closer to the professor.

Power outages a result of wet spell,” announced the Herald on its Page 4 on Tuesday.

Zesa Holdings spokesperson Fullard Gwasira said of the power outages in the city centre: “We would like to apologise to our valued customers for the loss of electricity service in the central business district of Harare due to multiple cable faults, which occurred at the City Intake and Harare Gardens substations.

The power utility would like to advise its valued customers that generally, due to the advent of the rainy season, there is likely to be a significant increase in rainfall-induced electricity faults due to water-logging and trees falling on or interfering with powerlines.”

This must take the trophy as one of the most brainless excuses of any utility, especially given that a majority of the people who are expected to believe this facile baloney have sometimes gone for months on end without electricity in their homes without any explanation.

It’s also a primary case for the police who we hear are arresting people for peddling falsehoods. So what should we expect now that the rains appear to have begun in earnest? A return to the Dark Ages!

Are there no Geneva conventions governing the treatment of new diplomats in their host nations?

We ask this question in the light of the way the new United States ambassador to Zimbabwe James McGee has been abused in the state media without being given the right of reply. He has been called slave, house nigger, black and many other demeaning epithets, all for simply being sent to represent the American government in Zimbabwe. We find this not only insulting but also disrespectful of President Mugabe the state media is pretending to support.

First of all, the fact that the American government is sending a new ambassador to Zimbabwe ordinarily should show they acknowledge the “legitimacy” of the government although they may differ on what qualifies as a “democratically-elected” president. Otherwise why send an envoy here if they didn’t recognise the regime in Harare?

Secondly, President Mugabe received McGee as the American ambassador and was duly accredited together with the Australian ambassador. So why after this should it be the duty of overzealous acolytes to abuse accredited diplomats simply because once there was one Christopher Dell whom they didn’t like?

Caesar Zvayi, writing in the Herald on Tuesday, went further than the rest in that hopeless journalistic stable, weaving from childish bullying to infantile advice about how McGee should execute his diplomatic duties. To him even plain humanitarian assistance has become a perpetuation of imperialism.

Is that the attitude of the 40 000 poor urban and rural folk receiving ARVs we wonder? What would fat Zvayi rather have them get and from whom?

And the silly patronising epithet: “After all you are black like me.” Is that meant to be a compliment? Meaning what? That blacks can’t feed or take care of their sick!

What a brew of Zimbabwean hospitality?

Zimbabwe was last week named among the top four “must visit” destinations along Egypt, Kenya and South Africa, the Herald reported on Wednesday. This showed that a “spirited four-year marketing strategy by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority” was beginning to bring “significant returns to the country”, we were told.

The source of this starry-eyed wonder was ZTA area manager for China, one Taka Munyanyiwa, who said the nation should brace itself for a surge in tourist arrivals.

“The latest ratings have put us among the top four African destinations now viewed by the Chinese as a must,” said Munyanyiwa.

“I am only worried about our capacity to handle these arrivals because it is indeed going to be an upsurge,” he said.

Let’s wait for this deluge from the East and see if this is going to be reflected in foreign currency inflows. And the big irony, it’s all to do with Karikoga Kaseke and not President Mugabe’s “Look East” policy? What effrontery?

Talking of hospitality, the chairman of the Japanese Association of Travel Agents, Toru Furusawu reportedly told journalists in Victoria Falls last week that Zimbabwe was a safe tourist destination despite negative Western media reports. Furusawu is trying to promote Zimbabwe as a safe destination ahead of the 2010 soccer World Cup.

“Zimbabwe is a safe tourist destination although the media depict it as an unsafe country,” he said. “The hotels are beautiful and it’s not as portrayed in the media.”

There you have it. If you want to prove that there is no political violence in Zimbabwe and that no one is starving you simply get into the nearest hotel and make your assessment from the balcony. It’s fairly revealing what pacifism can do to a nation.

Still on the Japanese, one of their key brands has been adopted by Zanu PF. Last weekend party supporters and war veterans demonstrating in support of President Mugabe in Mashonaland West carried posters inscribed MADZA on them. Horror, shock?

Has the Japanese motor company been roped into the marches? No. It’s just a new acronym for a Zanu PF punch line: Mugabe Achatonga Zimbabwe Dakara Afa (Mugabe will rule Zimbabwe till death).

This is not the sort of publicity that Mazda, which has just launched a new bakkie here, wants to be associated with. Look out for more MAZDA posters during the million men march today.

Uganda’s president Yoweri Museveni was moved into a royal rage this week when asked by British premier Gordon Brown to “intervene in the Zimbabwean crisis”, reports the Herald.

That could not be done, countered Museveni, because President Mugabe “is a revolutionary who fought to emancipate his people. When you are talking to a revolutionary you listen to his points rather than give him orders”.

We all know how Museveni came to power in Uganda; we know how he deals with opposition politicians in his country.

There is a cliché that birds of a feather flock together. It makes perfect sense that he understands so well a fellow wayfarer.

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