Concorde cruising or crashing home?

WE were interested in President Mugabe’s call to the recent Zanu PF congress to be wary of candidates intent on buying votes. Did this include those handing out tractors and ploughs, we wonder? Chief Fortune Cha

rumbira at the Zanu PF special congeress on Friday helpfully disclosed that the distribution process was managed by ruling-party organs.

Then of course there are the pick-up trucks for chiefs and electrification of their homes. There is also the maize-seed distribution which the ruling party claims as the product of its generosity.

But, apart from that little tussle involving Jabulani Sibanda, the most significant aspect of the congress was Gideon Gono’s admission that senior government and ruling-party officials are responsible for the current cash crisis because they hoard money.

“Corruption, corruption, corruption”, Gono said is at the root of the country’s woes.

People were spending days and nights in queues for cash, the governor noted. The central bank had released $67 trillion into the market but only $2 trillion could be accounted for. “Our question is: Who has all the other money? We cannot keep on printing money before we account for the other $65 trillion.”

So there you have it. Corrupt ruling-party bigwigs with their snouts in the trough are busy accumulating cash and profiting from the current shortages. Meanwhile, the Reserve Bank is printing money and thereby contributing to the soaring inflation rate.

Inflation is arguably the most serious problem facing the country today. And so long as the present corrupt administration continues in power it will go on rising.

Again we ask, what is Samuel Undenge doing in the Anti-Corruption portfolio?

The Concorde is cruising to victory in March 2008,” John Nkomo assured delegates in Harare last week.

Is this the same Concorde that was taken out of service several years ago?

And Munyaradzi Huni, in writing his hagiographical accounts, should be careful not to stretch credibility too far. He repeats the assertion that one million people brought business to a halt in the centre of Harare on November 30. He is right that business was brought to a halt just as Zanu PF is bringing it to a halt throughout the country. But only the most starry-eyed observer would put the figure at one million. It was more likely 100 000.

That is quite a lot of people and there is more credibility to getting the numbers right than buying into the fantasies of Zimbabwe’s delusional rulers.

But Huni was dead right on the MDC. Selling the party to voters next year would be “like selling stale meat to a butcher boy”, given their fragmentation, he said.

It has been said before and we will say it again: the MDC is letting the nation down with its wretched schism. People want unity against the tyranny, corruption and incompetence they find embedded in Zimbabwe’s ruling class. They want inspired leadership.

Can you imagine that a ruling party presiding over 14 000% inflation, 80% unemployment, and plummeting living standards, and not a clue how to get out of this mess, stands a better chance of winning than a party committed to recovery and democratic change?

Zimbabweans will not easily forgive the MDC for engaging in their silly little school-yard quarrel as the nation burns. But we welcome their statement on Sunday that they will work for unity with the rival (Mutambara) faction. Now let’s see that happen.

Tafataona Mahoso appears to think that “a majority even of European countries” now support Zimbabwe. Please can we have the names of those countries so we can check with their embassies? We would hate to think he was making it up. They should also be asked if the dispute with Zimbabwe is merely a bilateral one, as claimed.

It is remarkable how local propagandists can make statements of this sort and get away with it because journalists don’t ask questions.

Which brings us to the proposed Zimbabwe Media Commission emanating from the inter-party talks. Let us make sure no suspicious characters claiming to speak for journalists find their way on to that reconstituted body. “The commissioners will be chosen on the basis of their experience in the media,” we are told. That obviously rules Mahoso out. But let’s see this “code of ethics” that is being proposed to ensure it doesn’t look anything like the one we were told the nation was clamouring for in 2000.

Mahoso’s current commission cannot claim to be a custodian of ethical conduct in the media, especially if it looks the other way when Herald columnists use distasteful language to denigrate John Makumbe on the basis of his albinism.

It is quite obvious to us that the new beast is designed to upstage the independent Media Council by borrowing many of its salient features. Vigilance will be required here.

For instance, on November 22 the Herald carried a picture of a burnt-out bus to accompany a piece by Reason Wafawarova, who still won’t tell us why he prefers living in Australia to Zimbabwe. The caption read: “Many people are now aware of the democratic shortcomings of the MDC and its apparent inherent violent tendencies.”

This is about as dishonest as it gets for a newspaper. Nobody in the MDC was successfully prosecuted for that bus burning. Indeed it is one of several lies that the state media propagates without challenge. The MDC doesn’t seem to object.

On this same note, why has Nelson Chamisa not told us what is happening in his case? Who attacked him at Harare airport and what have the police done to apprehend the culprit? This is something any politician should be beating a drum about. Yet Chamisa has allowed the impression to gain ground that he doesn’t care.

Quick to seize the opportunity thus afforded, Home Affairs minister Kembo Mohadi claims he has had no response to letters written to the MDC asking for details of their claims of human rights violations.

Why hasn’t Chamisa raised his own case with the minister and then sent his letter to the press so the country can have a first-hand example of state brutality? Why is he allowing this opportunity, which is manifestly in the public interest, to pass?

Spare a thought for the residents of Alexandra Park who have been without electricity now since December 7. It came back on again on Thursday, December 13 at 8pm but went off again the next day at 3pm. It was off for a week before this.

Zesa claims it is load-shedding. Then why is it so unevenly balanced and sporadic? Why has Alexandra Park and Belgravia been targeted?

Residents are still getting their bills.

As we read in the state press of Mugabe’s “victories”, we should remind ourselves of the realities of his party’s delinquent rule as thousands of Zimbabweans cope without power and in many places without water. To all these people we convey our sympathies and ask: Have you registered as voters?

We have received the following message from a Nigerian (we suspect) purporting to be a Zimbabwean journalist. We reprint it (largely) unedited.

“Hello, I am sorry I didn’t email you about my travelling to Africa for education program, the program is taking place in three major countries in Africa. Ghana, South Africa and Nigeria. It has been a very sad news and bad moment for me, the present condition that I
found myself is very hard for me to explain. I am really stranded in Nigeria because I forgot my little bag in a taxi where my money and passport documents were kept
on my way to a hotel that am staying.

“I have no more money left with me. I am now owning (sic) a hotel bill of $1 200 and they wanted me to pay the bills soon else they will have to seize my bag and hand me over to the hotel management. Please I need some help from you urgently to help me back home, and I need you to help me with the hotel bill and i will also need $1 000 to feed and help myself back home so please can you help me with a sum of $2 200?

“To sort out this problems here. I need this help so much and on time because I am in a terrible and tight situation here, please understand how urgent i need your help.
I am sending you this e-mail from the city of Lagos. I will appreciate what so ever you can afford to send me for now and I promise to pay back your money as soon as I return home, you need to transfer the money through Western Union, please email me back.”

It purported to come from something called “Media in Zimbabwe”. We particularly liked the promise to repay when he got home.

Is it our imagination or is Godwills Masimirembwa becoming increasingly unhinged? In the Herald of last Friday he declared that Angela Merkel was an “economic exterminator using the human rights card in the hope of sidelining President Mugabe”.

“Men and women of principle do not join the bandwagon in launching an unjustified attack on a man who defends universally defined and accepted human rights,” Masimirembwa claimed. “This explains why President Mugabe is so popular with the common man, with the people. Amongst his peers he stands for the truth. He defends and promotes that which is right. That is why those of his peers who yesterday hesitated to be openly on his side are today championing his defence, steadfastly standing by him against the Germanic race’s attack.”

Many of those who support Mugabe would find this lickspittle drivel nauseous. It does nothing to help the ruling-party’s propaganda cause except to make it look foolish. So what is happening here? It looks very much to us that Godknows is angling for a seat in parliament and this craven boot-licking is the way to get it. But it is also an insight into the fevered mind of a Zanu PF apparatchik who has been given the economy as a toy to play with as the nation hurtles down the chutes.

Tere’s a very different spin on the Zanu PF congress from South Africa’s Sunday Times.

“They came in Hummers, Mercedes-Benz MLs and BMW 7-series wearing Gucci, Georgio Armani, Hugo Boss and suits from London’s exclusive Savile Row and gorged themselves at a lavish banquet. All to honour a man who has beggared his country.

“While most Zimbabweans continued their desperate scramble to eke out a living this week, 10 000 of the country’s ruling Zanu PF party ignored the economic and political abuses of President Robert Mugabe’s 27-year reign to, once
again, anoint him their presidential candidate for next year’s

“Under a leaden sky, the 83- three-year-old Mugabe and his young wife, Grace, arrived at the City Sports Centre in Harare in a newly imported, armour-plated black Mercedes-Benz S600 — sporting a number plate reading ZIM-1. While the first couple made their way into the hall bedecked with portraits of Mugabe, no-one, not even Mugabe’s trusted lieutenants, was allowed to park next to his vehicle. In fact, a sentry stood guard over it for the duration, occasionally using a cloth to wipe off raindrops that dared to fall on the vehicle.”

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