A COLLEAGUE visiting a distinguished gentleman’s club this week was intrigued by a notice occupying pride of place on the notice board. “As all members of this club know,” the notice said, “cheques returned from the bank (refer to drawer) is totally unac

ceptable. This is an act of fraud and is not tolerated here. It also results in the termination of your membership.

“The above member has been withdrawn and his proposers will be approached to recover the money of the club.

“Please be careful when signing as proposer or seconder to candidates,” the notice warned.

So who is responsible for this shocking misdeed?

A clue: He used a Standard Chartered cheque on December 3 drawn on the Anglican diocese of Harare to pay a tab of $80 million at the club. The cheque bounced.

Yes, as you have probably guessed by now the bounder was Bishop Nolbert Kunonga who is evidently making good use of diocesan funds and living up to his name!

Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa has said with regard to election observers that government will not admit “anyone with preconceived ideas on the electoral process and its outcome”.

In other words if you believe that democracy is best served by the expression of a variety of viewpoints so voters can make an informed choice at the polls, you could be excluded from observing the election. The Zimbabwe government refuses to allow the public broadcaster to reflect a diversity of views and prevents the registration of independent radio stations.

In any case what does Chinamasa think he was doing picking and choosing election observers? Should this not be the function of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission?

When ZEC chair Justice George Chiweshe was claiming the commission was independent a few months ago we warned that the issue of observers would provide a litmus test of that claim. Now we have the answer. Zanu PF will be deciding on who comes to observe, not the ZEC. And we can be sure those observers, like Sadc governments, will see nothing, hear nothing, and say nothing. Sadc is complicit in Zimbabwe’s misrule and we have no doubt their election observers will once again rise to the occasion by endorsing Chinamasa’s view that Zimbabwe’s electoral system is the best in the region. We are sure Joseph Mwale would agree.

Then we had the Herald suggesting that differences between American and European election observers in Kenya sparked the violence that followed the outcome. The conflicting statements “have in part been blamed for the bloodshed that has since claimed hundreds of lives”, the Herald reporter claimed.

In fact most participants and observers have blamed the Electoral Commission of Kenya which showed bias in favour of the incumbent and even tampered with the results, it is claimed. Nobody, as far as we know, has blamed international observers for the violence. That is pure Herald fiction.

But it does provide a warning that where the electoral commission fails to command the confidence of all players there is the danger of a disputed outcome.

The Herald should be warning its masters of that.

On Sunday Zinwa said it would cut water supplies to Harare residents this week. This followed power cuts at its Morton Jaffray waterworks. Intermittent power cuts had led to a failure in the pumping system, we were told.

In fact, like all parastatal claims, this one is well wide of the mark. The problem at Morton Jaffray, Muckraker is reliably informed, has little to do with Zesa and much to do with a failure of maintenance. The pumping system is having difficulties because it hasn’t been looked after. Much of the machinery at the waterworks has not been serviced since the mid-1990s. Only one pump is working, we are told. Zinwa managers are so desperate to prevent news of the shambolic state of affairs at Morton Jaffray from getting out that they have forbidden any cameras or cellphones being brought into the treatment plant.

We liked the letter to the editor of The Voice congratulating the paper on carrying news of the Zanu PF December congress. The writer was not able to watch the proceedings on television, he said, because of Zesa power cuts!

That’s one way of forcing reluctant readers to buy the ruling party’s rag.

Mabasa Sasa, writing in the Herald, provides a glimpse of a forthcoming book by somebody using the pseudonym Kufara Gwenzi who has undertaken a survey of secret societies in the West and the power they wield. Instead of applying a critical mind, which all journalists should do, Sasa buys into this hocus pocus. All ancient civilisations were guided by secret societies, he quotes Gwenzi as saying. In Britain the Freemasons emerged as serious powerbrokers with close ties to the Royal Family. Presently Queen Elizabeth serves as “the Grand Patroness of the Freemasons”.

This will no doubt come as news to the Queen!

The book has been “meticulously researched”, we are told. There is no evidence of that. Most of these claims have been rattling around for years and are repeated by conspiracy theorists who don’t know any better.

We can see why the author is shy about disclosing his real identity. Many of these claims were demolished years ago. The best example is the Protocols of the Elders of Zion which the Tsarist government in Russia peddled as an authentic document. It later proved to be completely false.

Zimbabwe needs its own structures of power, Gwenzi concludes. We thought they already had one!

Writing on the inter-party talks, Sasa claimed yesterday that “the Herald exclusively revealed last week that the political rivals had already agreed on a new constitution even before the talks started . . .”

Really? We thought it appeared in the Independent in October. And who will believe the latest Zanu PF invention that it doesn’t want a new constitution because there has been insufficient consultation?

Another Herald columnist, Godwills Masimirembwa, showed us last week just how dishonest that paper’s writers can be. He picked on Fidelis Mhashu’s maladroit comments on the BBC’s Hardtalk programme several years ago that the MDC would return land to white farmers to show it was unwise to entrust the party with the leadership of the country.

Nowhere in his article did Masimirembwa mention that the remarks were made in 2006. Instead we are left with the impression the remarks were made recently in order to make a case that the MDC “despises its birthright”.

For the record, the MDC’s position is that first an audit needs to be taken of who got what in the land grab of 2000-7, and then land needs to be allocated on the basis of best use to get the country working again. The vast majority of farmers benefiting from this approach will be black whatever Zanu PF may pretend. Above all, they will be well-trained and productive.

Why would Masimirembwa regard this as selling one’s birthright? Does he feel threatened by such a policy? Does he fear losing his chicken farm?

What surprises us about Masimirembwa and the party he so slavishly serves is that you would have thought that given his position as chair of the Incomes and Prices Commission he would be seeking a national consensus on price controls.

Instead he is busy urging everyone to vote for the bankrupt party of failure. Is that a sensible approach when you want to be taken seriously and need all the help you can get?

On another level, why has Mhashu not replied to point out that the MDC’s land policy is being cynically misrepresented by a half-baked opportunist with political ambitions? He has a duty to speak out on these issues. But the party as a whole appears to have gone into hibernation.

The Chronicle carried an interesting picture on January 5. It showed the Provincial Administrator for Matabeleland North, Ms Latiso Dlamini, presenting the keys of a bakkie to Chief Asher Mabhena of Umguza.

The chief looked distinctly elderly and Muckraker’s colleagues expressed doubt that he could drive the vehicle he was receiving. Whatever the case, enterprising Bulawayo journalists should keep an eye on this particular pick-up because it will almost certainly soon be running around Umguza as a ruling-party electoral asset.

And don’t we recall the president speaking not so long ago about the need to curb electoral inducements?

lower production has been on a steep decline over the past nine years due to dwindling production levels,” the Business Herald told us this week.

In other words production is dwindling because it is going down!

This nonsense is designed to mask the reality of a failed agrarian reform programme.

Horticulture used to be a major forex earner. Now it is struggling to survive. Zanu PF chefs have everywhere driven out productive farmers. And the results are a fall in production and non-existent forex earnings. As a result the country cannot afford to import power. Blackouts are a direct consequence.

Another dimension to this misrule was the decision by a Zesa subsidiary to export power to Namibia in the middle of blackouts at home. Can you imagine such insanity? But President Mugabe’s supporters think he needs another term to “consolidate the gains of the third chimurenga”. Purleez!

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