Bvudzijena’s glaring double standards

POLICE spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena on Tuesday provided a good example of what the opposition is up against. He was quoted in the Herald as saying a planned MDC march on Wednesday could n

ot go ahead because MDC spokesmen were making “exasperating statements”. He gave as an example Morgan Tsvangirai’s demand for a new constitution, voters’ roll, and an independent electoral commission.

“These reasons seem to suggest a sinister motive behind the march,” Bvudzijena said.

Participants had already been warned not to carry any placards or banners.

So here we see the amendments to Posa as pointless. The police can arbitrarily cancel a march because they object to calls for a new constitution and voters’ roll. These elementary democratic freedoms cannot be tolerated!

Is that what the MDC gave its approval to? And what happened to those clauses about dialogue where the police refuse permission for meetings? Didn’t everybody say at the time this wouldn’t work given the political culture in the police hierarchy?

And can you imagine picking up the leader of the opposition for “talks” at 4.30 in the morning. The Office of the President claims he wasn’t arrested, but merely “invited” to meet the police. Does George Charamba expect the media to go along with these disingenuous explanations?

Just two months ago the police allowed a Zanu PF march to go through the city centre with banners and placards. The double standards here are so glaring as to be blinding. Let’s hope they can be seen in Pretoria.

The Herald last Friday attempted to upstage Muckraker’s “Mother of all potholes” competition by publishing a picture of a massive crater on the Guruve-Muzarabani road.

It was indeed a daunting sight as parts of the crater, caused by floods, looked like a cliff-face. A motorist was seen trying to decide how to tackle it.

However, the entry had to be disqualified as the judges ruled it to be a wash-away and not a pothole. Sorry about that.

The one along the Guruve-Muzarabani road is by no means unique. The Masvingo-Beitbridge road contains some gigantic holes that could swallow up your car.

Hit one of those at night and your chassis would be finished. So why is the Ministry of Transport not fixing these life-threatening hazards? What happened to the carbon tax extorted from motorists? How is that money being spent?

The minister concerned, Christopher Mushohwe, should be addressing these issues instead of negotiating the purchase of expensive Russian aircraft which the country can’t afford and certainly can’t maintain.

There is a German word that reflects the feelings of many Zimbabweans towards the power crisis South Africa is undergoing: Schadenfreude.

It means taking a quiet pleasure in others’ misfortunes. Zimbabweans can only rub their hands in barely-contained glee that their powerful and occasionally bossy neighbour is now experiencing what we have been going through for years: load-shedding, blackouts, power cuts, call them what you will. Down South the culprit is called Eskom.

One South African publication suggested in a “Message from Eskom” that “Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika” should be replaced as the national anthem with “Hello Darkness My Old Friend”.

Simon and Garfunkel fans will be delighted. And we loved the Madam & Eve cartoon which showed the devil trying to reveal himself to Madam.

“Have you realised who I am yet?” he demands with horns and tail very much in evidence.

“Give me another hint,” Madam suggests.

“Where I come from there’s eternal suffering and it’s unbearably hot.”

“You’re from Pofadder,” she guesses.

“They call me the Prince of Darkness,” he helpfully hints.

“You work for Eskom,” she finally declares.

Then there’s the cartoon in which President Mbeki tells President Bush he “can’t talk now” on the phone because “the whole country is at the mercy of Eskom”. Bush orders the Pentagon to put US forces on alert thinking Eskom is a terrorist.

All this satire, we should note, follows a mere few hours of darkness in some areas. It is never days or weeks! And South Africans complain bitterly when a loaf of bread goes up by a few cents!

Still with our friends to the south, President Mbeki’s wasted trip to Harare last Thursday should have exposed to him the extent of presidential obduracy. Muckraker’s information is that Zanu PF was prepared to be flexible about the election date until their leader shot it down at the December congress. Sadc had already been told to expect a June date, we gather. They need three clear months to prepare their observers in terms of the Mauritius protocol. But policy in the ruling party is decided on the hoof: most notably the president’s.

And if a picture could tell a thousand words the footage of a profoundly unhappy leader was revealed to ZTV viewers on Thursday night. He couldn’t even manage a small smile. And Mbeki wasn’t given any encouragement to say anything more than the few words he managed to deliver before leaving. Indeed, one got the impression he would have been hauled off by his host if he had tried to say

Muckraker’s question is: what will Mbeki tell Sadc at the end of the month? That there has been “good progress”?

Not even the supine Sadc heads will swallow that one again unless Mugabe gives ground on the transitional arrangements.

Cuba will continue to support Zimbabwe in its fight against “illegal” sanctions imposed by Western governments led by Britain and the United States.

Addressing journalists at the belated 49th Anniversary of the Triumph of the Cuban Revolution commemorations last week, Cuban Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Cosme Torres Espinoza, said the Zimbabwean situation resembled that of Cuba, “since the US always imposes sanctions on whoever does not toe its line of thinking”.

What a hypocrite. It is the Cuban government that imposes sanctions on its critics by locking them up. How many journalists languish in Cuban jails because the arthritic regime in Havana can’t stand criticism?

Cuba, Zimbabwe, Belarus, Iran and North Korea all try to prevent criticism by banning newspapers and locking up journalists. The Cuban ambassador should not try and pretend that Cubans have any freedoms except the freedom to denounce the United States.

ZUJ president Matthew Takaona has a knee-jerk response to any mention of the Zimbabwe Independent or Trevor Ncube. He denounces Ncube in the most virulent terms, describing his company as “oppressors of the worst kind” for allegedly paying their staff “peanuts”. But he never says anything too strident about his old company, Zimpapers.

Is there something we’re missing here? Takaona’s deep and abiding dislike for Ncube should not become ZUJ policy lest it compromises their ability to play a constructive role in industrial disputes in the newspaper industry in future. And if there is a bit of history we are missing here Takaona should disclose it next time he fulminates. We want to know what’s “getting his goat”!

Meanwhile, Takaona’s inquiry as to whether there would be a conflict of interest if somebody sat on both the state Media Council and the Voluntary Media Council suggests that “somebody” has already been approached. No guessing who!

The Chronicle experienced a measure of staff disgruntlement over pay on Tuesday, we hear. But we didn’t hear a single yap from the union watchdog.

No marks for bravery for the Africa Institute of South Africa. This outfit was due to hold a conference in Pretoria on The Zimbabwe Crisis: A Civil Dialogue. But they cancelled because of the “sensitivities” surrounding the current mediation talks. In other words these civic society mandarins couldn’t even discuss issues of governance in Zimbabwe. Their vision of the future was not allowed to see the light of day.

They evidently have the spine of a jellyfish. Muckraker’s question: Who leaned on them?

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