How Zanu PF stole Christmas

NATHANIEL Manheru has what he thinks is a wake-up call for British ambassador Andrew Pocock. “Does he get the message when Zimbabwe, a country which is supposed to be in the throes, unwr

aps a brand new bio-diesel plant in partnership with South Korea?” he asks. “Or an ANC which pledges to push land reforms to the tune of 30% before 2014? Does he read the mosaic of messages which clearly points to a new Southern Africa?”

Actually, we all got the message of the politburo taskforce swallowing the story about a little girl who said she could conjure diesel from a rock. What did that tell the world about the calibre of Zimbabwe’s decision-makers?

As for South Africa’s land reform, this is what the acting Director-General of Land Affairs, Thozi Gwanya, had to say recently: “We are extremely concerned about food security. The land that we transfer must not lie fallow. The contribution of agriculture to the GDP must not go down because we have transferred this land. We don’t want to go anywhere near Zimbabwe.”

So there you have it. Not quite the all-round success Manheru depicted. And any ambassador driving around the capital over the festive season would have seen those long winding queues for cash, the product of poor planning and misrule.

The public were told the new notes were being delivered to branches before Christmas so they waited patiently. In vain, it would seem. The new money did not make an impact until after Christmas and then painfully slowly. Zanu PF stole Christmas for many while the chefs, it would appear, had vast reserves of cash. Only Tafataona Mahoso missed this story in a vain bid to shift public attention away from local corruption towards an international villain of the piece, in this case “the corporate aristocracy who dominate the global speculative economy”.

We reckon he’s not having much luck with that one thanks to David Butau et al who have pulled the mask from the face of the beast.

And we all noticed Butau’s attempts to hold off an enquiry by the parliamentary portfolio committee on Finance which he heads. He would not rush into inviting Gideon Gono to appear, he said, to give evidence on the cash barons. The committee would need time to “analyse” the governor’s statement, he lamely suggested.

Gono to his credit shot back that he had the names and couldn’t understand why he wasn’t being asked to disclose them. That was the national sentiment. Why was Butau dragging his heels? Now we know.

What was interesting about this episode was for the first time the state media, in following the Butau story, was walking in step with the national mood rather than trying to sweep the crisis under the political carpet. Mahoso stood out like a sore thumb in trying to run against the tide.

Meanwhile, the three stooges at SABC who have been supplying the South African public with partisan news, CEO Dali Mpofu, political editor Sophie Mokoena, and head of news Snuki Zikalala, now face the chop, the Sunday Times reports. Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi described the SABC bias during the ANC’s recent leadership contest as “scandalous”. We happen to believe the same of its Zimbabwe coverage!

Vavi called on Mbeki not to approve the list of names for the SABC board which had been manipulated by the ANC leadership who had overruled the list put forward by parliament’s portfolio committee on communications.

“We need a return to the original list,” Vavi said, “which parliament had recommended before the heavy-handed intervention by those who want to turn it into another Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation.”

Vavi called for the SABC leadership to either undergo a change of heart or resign over its propaganda role.

We hope those at Pockets Hill heed this for their day of judgement is not far off.

Still with the ANC’s Polokwane conference, we were amused by the antics of Mbeki loyalist Mluleki George who told the press Mbeki would sweep the board. This won him the title of “Comical Ali” in recognition of the similarity between his delusional bleatings and those of Saddam Hussein’s spokesman “Chemical Ali”.

When he tried to organise a rally on behalf of Mbeki, calling the opposition camp “thugs” and “hooligans”, supporters of Jacob Zuma organised their own rally.

“ANC this way, Zanu PF that way,” they bellowed, according to a Sunday Times editorial. They were the real ANC, they claimed rebutting George’s claims. The others were followers of a despot who wanted to cling to power they said.

We enjoyed the following from Walter Muchinguri in the Business Herald last week.

“After years of crafting brilliant economic policies that in many cases have run their course without being applied fully, the government through the Ministry of Economic Development has adopted an inclusive approach that is envisaged to encourage a major buying-in and broader implementation of all policies.”

Is there anybody left who in all seriousness would describe government’s economic policies as “brilliant” amidst the debris of a ruined state? And how long has it taken this regime to wake up to the need for business and civic participation in the formulation of economic policy? What has been its record to date of listening to the views of others?

Godwills Masimirembwa’s tenancy at the Prices and Incomes Commission demonstrates just how little listening this government is prepared to do.

Muchinguri needs to apply a healthy dose of scepticism when reporting news of this sort instead of joining his colleague in the Department of Pollyanna Perspectives. This same journalist was also last week asking us to believe that tourism was “on the path to full recovery”.

Perhaps Muchinguri would like to go and find us a bona fide tourist out there because, apart from the Victoria Falls, most of the nation’s hotels were only recording bookings at 30% of capacity last year.

Two statements last week caught our attention: One by Deputy Police Commissioner Godwin Matanga that next year’s elections provided an opportunity for Zimbabwe’s “detractors” to step up their campaigns against Harare, and another by Masimirembwa that the country was “richer because of President Mugabe’s leadership”.

In fact Zimbabweans have never been poorer. Per capita GDP is down to 1950s levels, according to a recent study.

It is clear that Herald commentators are required to be delusional. But here is someone who demonstrates partisan loyalty instead of professional integrity. Should not those officials presiding over prices and incomes be winning the confidence of the country as a whole instead of grandstanding for the ruling party in a bid to win personal preferment?

As for Matanga’s invitation for police officers seconded to UN duties to “tell the true story of Zimbabwe”, that would provide an interesting challenge. Officers would be required to explain how the leader of the opposition and several of his officials were severely assaulted at a police station in March and how the president of the Law Society and other lawyers were taken to Eastlea and beaten there. They may also be asked to explain why Joseph Mwale has not been brought to justice and why the killers of Gift Tandare and Godfrey Chikomba have not been held to account.

On a lighter note, ZRP officers should be asked how their superiors can believe that diesel is produced from rocks. Telling the “true story of Zimbabwe” should be challenging indeed.

Under the heading “A stitch in time”, the Herald on Monday carried a picture of council workers filling potholes with bitumen. “The potholes have been blamed on the incessant rains,” we were told.

In fact the potholes can be blamed on the council’s failure to maintain the roads in the capital. There is everywhere an absence of a culture of supervision and maintenance. The council seems to be on an extended holiday. At exactly the time when Harare gets thousands of visitors from South Africa the traffic lights go out, the potholes proliferate and rubbish piles up.

Muckraker is running a “Mother of all potholes” competition. There are already several ambitious entrants. One contestant on West Road in Strathaven is the size of a small swimming pool. Another near Old Hararians on Bishop Gaul is several feet deep. If you have a monster pothole in your locality let us know.

Celebrations to mark the 20th anniversary of the Unity Accord turned out to be a damp squib. Nobody seemed keen to express their “oneness”. Instead they were stuck in bank queues. In fact it was extraordinary that Zanu PF should try to flog this particular dead horse.

A number of state-owned companies were induced to advertise in the Herald. The Zimbabwe National Water Authority, the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe, Zimpost, NetOne, Potraz, Noczim, NSSA, and the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority all dutifully congratulated President Mugabe or “joined the people” in celebrating the occasion, even where no celebration was readily identifiable.

And what can we say about the companies advertising their slavish loyalty to a regime that keeps them in business? Few of them are capable of supplying even an elementary service to the public. In fact most are associated in the public mind with bungling and failure.

We would love to know who phones them and suggests it would be a good idea to take out advertisements when other companies are not prepared to waste their money!

And there, just to remind us of the nature of the beast we are dealing with, was an ad from the Zimbabwe Prison Service “joining President Mugabe and the people of Zimbabwe” in celebrating Unity Day. As if we needed the reminder!

When we had George Charamba remarking in the Herald on Zimbabwean fugitives from justice being allowed into Britain, the US, Australia and New Zealand.

Strange that he should object to this when he is happy to have the Herald carry on a regular basis opinion pieces from fugitives based in precisely those countries. Except they are fugitives from the social and economic chaos that the regime they support has spawned.

Why don’t Peter Mavunga and Reason Wafawarova want to live in Zimbabwe? Why does the Herald depend upon the likes of Obi Egbuna for political commentary?

None of its commentators appear to be in touch with Zimbabwean views. They prefer the comfort of Britain, the US and Australia from where they mount crude attacks on Zimbabwe’s opposition leaders. What courage do these lickspittle commentators have in running away from their homeland and then pretending that the country is being ably managed by a hero of the African revolution? None of them have to live with the consequences of his disastrous policies but they choose to speak on his behalf and have their views published in a newspaper that permits no right of reply.

Mavunga and Wafawarova: Please come home. We want you to actually experience the reality here!

Still on the subject of Charamba’s strictures, Muckraker was amused to note that despite his literary pretensions, he still has difficulty spelling the name of the university he attended in the UK. His court affidavit in the BSA case says he specialised in broadcast media studies at “Cardif University”. Is that anywhere near Cardiff?

Herald columnist and media commissar Chinondidyachii Chinondidya-Chinosekerera Mararike, in a bid to deflect blame for the country’s current chaos away from President Mugabe, asks “how it is we have allowed people who are not with us and yet pretend to be with us to occupy strategic national positions and who, it turns out, constitute a local middle class or pseudo-petit bourgeoisie dominated by and on the payroll of foreign ruling classes and imperialist saboteurs and their proxies?”

“Why are we allowing the country to be hijacked by criminals?” he asks.

Does that include lawyers who have been struck off for abusing clients’ funds, we wonder?

We need to monitor these criminals posing as revolutionaries before they inflict further institutional damage.

And it is interesting to note that the officials they quote as inspiring their constipated nationalist discourse made no contribution whatsoever to the liberation struggle.

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