Muckraker – 14 Mar

THE former Anglican bishop of Harare, Nolbert Kunonga, has urged Zimbabweans to vote for President Mugabe because he was “Zimbabwe’s anointed leader”, according to reports on Monday. “As the church we see the president with different eyes. To us he is a prophet of God who was sent to deliver the people of Zimbabwe from bondage,” Kunonga said.

“God raised him to acquire our land and distribute it to Zimbabweans. We call it democracy of the stomach.”

There will certainly be no complaints from his stomach after reportedly benefiting from the land reform programme!

But now we can see what this whole episode of episcopal delinquency was all about. Kunonga’s mission was to provide church support for President Mugabe’s electoral bid.

It was thought he would carry the authority of the Anglican establishment in providing a much-needed spiritual boost to counter the role of the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference.

But things didn’t work out as planned. The Anglican establishment rallied behind its elected leaders leaving Kunonga to rely upon the police and the state media for his authority. He ended up looking very much like Zanu PF’s instrument in its battle for hearts and minds, and a rather clumsy one at that.

Mugabe as “the prophet of God” will actually come back to haunt him. Zimbabweans don’t like that sort of blasphemous lickspittle servitude. And who is responsible for the “bondage” the nation is currently experiencing? Kunonga is so obviously not his own man, attending Bright Matonga’s rally in Mhondoro-Ngezi, but at least we now know the background to his appearance in Zanu PF’s election campaign.

Talking of pathetic, we had the predictable bleating of Patrick Chinamasa in the state media this week. But he sounded completely implausible.

Is it seriously suggested that somebody like Dumiso Dabengwa would invent those meetings in South Africa? And is Chinamasa incapable of responding to the claims made by Dabengwa without having recourse to the crude propaganda of the ruling party?

Dabengwa was the “chief protector” of white farmers in Matabeleland, according to this crass defence. He was part of a plan to reverse land reform and was heavily compromised by the British, Chinamasa dutifully suggested.

And all this designed to avoid another grovelling and tearful apology to the president which was reported after the Tsholotsho Declaration in 2004.

“I am a humble foot-soldier in defence of the revolution and the leadership of President Mugabe,” Chinamasa pathetically persisted.

Is this what senior ministers have been reduced to? And how can he as a lawyer suggest there is such a thing as “political defamation”? Then he proceeds to call Dabengwa “a liar, a charlatan, a tribalist, a turncoat and a counter-revolutionary”.

Then that ultimate Zanu PF charge — that of “sowing confusion among our ranks”.

That has always been a problem confined to the ruling party. Apparently they are easily confused and it is a major offence to confuse them any further!

Chinamasa has done himself no favours with his attack on Dabengwa. It is unlikely that Dabengwa will reply to this squalid outburst so obviously designed to propitiate a paranoid tyrant.

“We all know what President Mugabe stands for,” Chinamasa asserted.

Indeed we do. We just thought you could see it too Patrick.

Muckraker was intrigued by one small thing in all this. Chinamasa says: “They started with the spread of falsehoods against me around the Tsholotsho incident and they went on to mount a malicious criminal prosecution in 2006 and now we have this.”

Who are “they” in this quote? Why did the Herald reporter not ask the obvious question?

Land belongs to the people of Zimbabwe,” the latest Zanu PF full-page ad states. “It is their birthright.”

Let us not forget the thousands of Zimbabweans who were deprived of that birthright because of the colour of their skin or their descent in 2000.

“Zimbabweans deserve reparations for the occupation and exploitation of their land,” the ad continues.

The other side of that particular coin is of course the restoration of roads, schools and hospitals to their original owners. And nobody is seriously suggesting we go there!

“Anyone working to reverse land reform is an enemy of the Zimbabwean people,” the ad declares. How convenient. That means we can’t raise the issue of multiple farm ownership or illegal seizures. Greed is to be rewarded by a law of limitations.

But do Zanu PF cronies really think they are going to be left in undisturbed possession of their ill-gotten gains on an indefinite basis, even if they manage to hoodwink the electorate this time round? Mugabe said this week the government would investigate multiple farm ownership after the election.

Morgan Tsvangirai appeared unable to provide a straight answer when tackled in a SW Radio Africa interview. We understand his difficulty on the land issue but he should be able to spell out his party’s position on multiple ownership without ducking and diving all over the place. It was a terrible performance.

The Makoni campaign is headed by experienced public relations practitioners. Which is why we are surprised they didn’t better prepare their man for his Radio 702 interview a couple of weeks ago.

It went something like this: Redi Direko for The Big Interview: “Today we are speaking to Zimbabwe’s presidential candidate Simba Makoni.”

Makoni: “Is this live?”

Direko: “Yes.”

Makoni: “No, no, no. Sorry, we can’t have this. We’ve got to clarify things.”

Direko: “But our producer has been trying to set this up for weeks.”

Makoni: (Eventually) “Anyway let’s proceed.”

Harare municipal director of housing Justin Chivavaya made quite a revelation last week.

Asked by the Independent about the progress of the renovations at Rufaro stadium, Chivavaya retorted: “It’s not my policy to answer you verbally, whether on the phone or face-to-face, so send me your questions in writing.

“But I can’t guarantee that I’ll respond. That’s my way of doing things.”

With such haughtiness and dereliction of duty we need not ask anymore why the capital is in such a mess.

Here is a senior director boasting that he applies his own policies at work instead of the municipality’s policies. You can imagine a situation whereby every city council worker has his or her own “way of doing things”.

Muckraker used to wonder why even road maintenance workers would get to a site, prepare their lunch first and then start working — and not finish the job.

Why there are so many potholes.

Why vana madhodhabhini (refuse collectors) no longer collect garbage.

Why traffic lights are perennially malfunctioning.

Relax. Chivavaya, without provocation, told us: everyone has his or her own way of doing things at Harare municipality.

Why does NIPC chair Godwills Masimirembwa think government employees should get a 20% discount at hotels? This in effect amounts to a subsidy from the already hard-hit tourism sector.

Masimirembwa made the pronunciamento after hotels and tourism service providers increased their charges without his approval.

“Government and local authorities must not be treated like any person who comes into a hotel to seek an experience,” he declared.

The new pricing system was meant to “show the difference between people coming into hotels for an experience and those who are doing so out of necessity”.

What on earth is he talking about? This is the sort of nonsense you get when you allow Zanu PF zealots
and chicken farmers to take charge of important sectors of the economy.

And where do you suppose all those tractors and combine harvesters handed out last week came from? From the accounts of FCA holders of course.

Here we have a classic case of misrule: people’s bank accounts raided in collusion with the Reserve Bank to enable the ruling party to offer inducements to new farmers to remain loyal in a forthcoming poll.

And do you have to be a cynic to bet those tractors will end up on the black market or in the rural transport sector? Expect to see them parked outside beer halls any day now.

Then we expect the IMF and World Bank to provide balance-of-payments support to rescue the country from the consequences of Zanu PF’s delinquency and yell that it’s all a Western conspiracy when they demure.

New farmers in Mazowe who spoke to Muckraker last week said they hadn’t seen anything of the tractors or other equipment and said the whole scheme benefited the favoured few.

But don’t expect the Angolans, Chinese, Libyans and Namibians to notice electoral inducements. Their gaze will be studiously averted. And they will almost certainly give the election the nod as soon as they step off the plane.

Angola’s foreign minister and Sadc’s executive secretary appear to be already batting for the regime.

We liked the Herald heading, “No to anarchist mechanisations”, on March 7. We thought it might reveal special insight into the tractor distribution programme. But it turned out to be incompetent subbing. It was all about the MDC’s “machinations”.

At least they put it in the Entertainment section!

Meanwhile, has anybody noticed some ZEC ads are also semi-literate? And the language mirrors that of Zanu PF.

“We demand a retraction and an apology,” they insisted last week from the Standard in respect of something their spokesman denied saying.

They are in serious need of professional help in dealing with the media.

It is not just the state media that detects plots everywhere. A respectable outfit like the Christian Alliance imagined a plot to compromise them by our advertising department last week. One of their ads ended up next to that for the MDC.

What sort of paranoid dementia is at work in the fevered minds of these worthies?

No plot dear friends. Just an old-fashioned mix-up (incompetence?) on a busy day. Sorry.

President Mugabe’s publicists are always telling us how popular he is in Africa and how the continent looks to Zimbabwe for a lead. So we were pleased to see the views of Kenya’s Orange Democratic Movement’s leader Raila Odinga in the Mail & Guardian when asked what advice he had for Mugabe in the forthcoming election.

“I have got very little regard for Mugabe,” he said. “He used to be my hero once upon a time but we parted ways when he began to use a big stick to deal with his political adversaries. I think he is a disgrace to the African continent and the time has really come for him to try to move on and let other people govern. I don’t think it is right for someone to hold a country hostage for generations. I think it is not right for Africa.”

A reader has sent us a full-page Herald ad for Zanu PF’s March 2002 presidential election campaign.

It warned of “Tsvangirai’s bitter pill for Zimbabwe”. We could expect the following from the MDC if Tsvangirai won, it warned back then in March 2002: “Cuts in electricity supply. Total blackout for the nation. Collapse of industry. Massive job losses. Isolation of Zimbabwe. Shortage of goods. Price hikes. Massive unemployment.”

Obviously Zanu PF stole the MDC’s programme!

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