WE were under the impression Zimbabwe had a republican form of government. Now we learn we have a king ruling over us!
“I get my fruit from Zimbabwe. I get my riches from Zimbabwe,” King Robert declared at the launch of his election campaign on Sunday. “So let me be king of my own forests, my own animals, my own rivers, my own mountains. Please leave me to be king of my own country. This is what everyone should be saying.”
So we should all be saying Mugabe is our king? That he owns all the forests, animals, rivers and mountains? And what “riches” are these that he extracts from the country? Perhaps he could be more specific.
We recall Didymus Mutasa telling us the same thing in 1990: “You have your queen, we have our king,” he told the BBC. We all laughed.
Perhaps Nelson Chamisa could seek clarification on this point when he next debates issues of governance with Patrick Chinamasa. Our understanding is that voters rejected these royalist pretensions when they went to the polls on March 29. Now they are being asked once more to say they donâ€™t want a self-imposed king. Is this a case of “Lâ€™Ã©tat câ€™est moi”? We hope not.
TVâ€™s panel discussion shows just why the public have such little confidence in the public broadcaster. The Mauritius terms require that the opposition have equal access to the airwaves during an election campaign. How then do we explain a chair (Happison Muchechetere) who supports the ruling party, an academic (Joseph Kurebwa) who supports the ruling party, a government minister from the ruling party (Patrick Chinamasa) and a sole voice from the opposition (Nelson Chamisa)? What sort of access is that, especially when you consider that the opposition are now the majority party?
Chamisa, by the way, should not waste his time telling Chinamasa that the MDC is not called the MDC-Tsvangirai. Until it formally reunites with the Mutambara wing, that is what it will be known as. And there are more important issues to discuss such as why Chinamasa accused Tsvangirai of treason on the basis of a fake document?
Letâ€™s get real here. Chamisa should ask Chinamasa how he explains the landslide Zanu PF found itself under in March. Was it really all a plot against the “peopleâ€™s party”?
Why when the people speak are they ignored? Has he read Pallo Jordanâ€™s views, published in last Sundayâ€™s Standard, on this redundent approach to politics we wonder?
It would also be useful to have the names of the “crowds” of white former farmers who Zanu PF claims, again on the basis of a fake document, “threatened” newly resettled farmers in the wake of March 29. Strange isnâ€™t it that two months later we still havenâ€™t had a single piece of evidence to support this claim?
“You saw them demanding that those we had resettled quit the land and make way for them,” Mugabe claimed in his address to supporters at Zanu PF headquarters on Sunday.
Actually nobody saw them! But we do recall his claims about the MDC being a terrorist party after Cain Nkalaâ€™s murder. And “racist” Henry Elsworth being responsible for stripping women collecting firewood on his farm. Those episodes turned out to be fictional as well. Just like the dossier he took to Dar es Salaam last year.
The challenges facing our media industry,” Emmerson Mnangagwa suggests, “have resulted in the foreign media penetrating Zimbabwe with all the inherent negative consequences. We therefore have an obligation to build our media industry so that it is the primary choice and source of news, entertainment and other services to Zimbabwe.”
Does that include lying about the opposition, now the main preoccupation of the state media? Does it include government officials slipping material into reportersâ€™ copy?
We had the silly story about Tsvangirai getting his orders from the US ambassador last week.
But nothing about ZBC, Chronicle or Herald editors getting their daily instructions from Chinamasaâ€™s Orwellian sub-committee!
Does “building our media industry” mean adopting a blatantly partisan approach even when Zanu PF lost the election and therefore no longer speaks for the country? Does it mean ignoring every single professional tenet in journalism such as declaring people guilty when their cases are yet to be resolved in the courts, or knowingly publishing false documents such as those trying to link the MDC to Eugene Terreblanche?
People will not want a media industry that misleads them about the reasons for the countryâ€™s failure when there is a yawning chasm between what ministers claim and what people see before their very eyes. Nor will they want newspapers and broadcasters whose products are bad and irredeemably boring, parroting the former ruling partyâ€™s failed mantras. The last thing people want are the same instruments of deceit they voted against in March.
Who in all seriousness for instance would believe Sydney Mufamadi had come here this week to discuss violence in Alexandra with Mugabe? Yet that is what our official media wanted us to believe.
These issues of official deceit should be top of the agenda for the National Association of Press Clubs.
And please could someone tell Herald reporters that Patrice Lumumba was never president of the Congo. Have they not heard of Joseph Kasavubu?
This is what happens when you are under instructions to help elderly vice-presidents by reporting their entirely predictable remarks about “sellouts”. The writer, who was reporting Joseph Msikaâ€™s remarks on Tsvangirai, also said Mavambo/Kusile “failed to make a meaningful impact” in the March 29 elections. But he didnâ€™t say what impact he thought Msika had made. Like somewhere between zero and zero!
This weekâ€™s joke. Elliot Manyika speaking at a meeting of provincial leaders said: “Government is trying its best to solve all the challenges the country is currently facing.” Does that include printing money and thus fuelling inflation? Does it mean disabling production on farms including those covered by investment protection agreements? Does it mean selling fuel on the black market? Does it mean crippling business by clumsy interventions and scaring off investors?
Does it mean isolating the country from international lenders? Does it mean waging a brutal war against those whose party offers real solutions to our problems?
If these are examples of government doing its best to “solve the challenges the country is facing”, we would hate to see it doing its worst!
A couple of weeks ago we asked which fool would be next to quote from a fake memo purportedly authored by Tendai Biti outlining what the MDC would do when it took power. It included the return of thousands of white farmers, the recruitment of Rhodesians in Australia as service chiefs, links with Afrikaner nationalist extremists, and bringing in a German to run the Reserve Bank. The state press proved gullible in publishing these obvious falsehoods until Bitiâ€™s lawyers intervened.
Now Sibanda, who is living proof that evolution can go in reverse, has joined in. “If you had a chance to see the MDC-T working document which puts it clearly that they want to eliminate, ideologically and physically, their opponents,” he charged, “surely you will then see who is responsible for the violence.”
So there you have it. All those victims in hospital wards around the country were mistaken. The people they thought were war veterans assaulting them turned out to be members of their own party. Weâ€™re not quite sure why MDC members would want to attack each other but Sibanda no doubt has an explanation. Probably something to do with sanctions.
Question for Sibanda: Do you have to be incorrigibly daft to be a ruling party activist or does it just help?
We were interested to note South African Chief Justice Pius Langaâ€™s remarks on the violence that has consumed the countryâ€™s townships. He denounced the xenophobia in unambiguous terms and called for law-enforcement agencies to uphold the law and restore peace.
How refreshing having a chief justice who is concerned with peopleâ€™s rights and keen that the police should do their professional duty!
The trade unions have also been speaking out. The National Union of Mineworkers accused the government of weak leadership. It blamed Mugabe and Thabo Mbekiâ€™s approach to the Zimbabwean crisis as among the reasons for the unrest.
NUM president Senzeni Zokwana said: “We are in this mess because of Mugabe, and our leaders are not strong enough to call him to order and (as a result) people are dying.”
There is a consensus in South Africa that Mbekiâ€™s indulgence of Mugabe has enabled misgovernance to persist in Zimbabwe leading to a human wave of refugees rolling south. It is also true that poor service delivery and lack of planning have played their part. But what sort of country is it that used to export a range of goods to the region but now only exports people?
Mangosuthu Buthelezi had some wise words for those spreading hate and violence in South Africa. He first apologised and said how ashamed he was of what was taking place. “We are embarrassed, we are ashamed,” he said. “I can hardly believe that a few criminals would turn on our African brothers and sisters like this. Such prejudice and ignorance simply defies reason.
“We are in Egoli the place of gold. Gold is the mainstay of our economy and it has been dug from the womb of the Earth by migrants from Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Malawi. We owe the wealth of our country to our brothers and sisters from other countries.”
Indeed. Many South African newspapers have commented upon South African shack-dwellers watching their hard-working foreign neighbours buying TV sets and DVD players and then stealing them as soon as the mob violence broke out. One abiding image is of the police escorting machete-wielding mobs around the townships. How many of the killers and looters have been prosecuted to date?
How many people have had stolen property returned to them?
All Mbeki could offer were fine words. What about justice and restitution?
Meanwhile, returning to our own anarchy, Morgan Tsvangirai made a telling point about violence at his press conference following his arrival home last weekend. He said the people of western Zimbabwe, where 20 000 people died in the Gukurahundi “madness”, had proved that violence doesnâ€™t work.
“If violence pays,” Tsvangirai said, “then Matabeleland should be the bedrock of support for Zanu PF.”
“They have beaten themselves into serious rejection by the people of Zimbabwe,” he noted.
Meanwhile, has anybody noticed Zanu PFâ€™s mood-change? The president they have been depicting in their full-page ads is a younger, less angry figure. He actually breaks a smile. But then he raves and rants about the MDC being manipulated by “Rhodesians” and we are back with the unsmiling menacing character we are more familiar with. Nothing, it seems, can rescue Zanu PF from its image problem â€” the ever-present fist.
And the abiding impression is of bitterness and resentment that the nation rejected their “authentic” master. We even had a commentator this week claiming that the electorate “did not know whether they were coming or going”. When the results were announced “it looked as if people suddenly realised what a huge mistake they had made when they voted”.
Zanu PF evidently remains oblivious to the first rule of politics: Donâ€™t insult the voters. And you know a party is in trouble when it hires David Nyakorach-Matsanga as a publicist! Zanu PF meets the Lordâ€™s Resistance Army. Prepare for missing limbs!
ho was the idiot who managed to feed the Herald all that phoney information about Patrick Diskin on Wednesday? He was the US ambassador to South Africa, we were told, sneaking through the Plumtree border post on a visit to James McGee, his counterpart in Harare.
All sorts of details were provided to support this threadbare story.
In fact Diskin, it turns out, is the Regional Food for Peace Programme Coordinator at the US Agency for International Development (USAid) based in Pretoria. He was on a routine visit to assist USAid/Zimbabwe in monitoring the implementation of US government humanitarian food assistance programmes.
The US Ambassador to South Africa is Eric M Bost. Would it have been so difficult for the Herald to have checked this? Or is the new media supervisory regime headed by Chinamasa not in any way concerned about the facts?
Finally, Muckraker learns from the NewZimbabwe.com website that President Mugabe is having difficulty reading the Herald.
This is of course something we all share with him, but he wasnâ€™t referring to the indigestible content. Apparently, the presidential vision is not what it was and Information minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu was instructed to tell state editors to up-point the text.
This information came to light at a recent briefing held for state editors.
Mugabe had complained that he wanted to read the papers about what was happening in the country but could not because the print was “the size of ants”. He asked the minister to tell editors of the state newspapers to increase the font size. Ndlovu took the presidentâ€™s message to the editors, according to the website.
“We could not believe it when the minister said the president had told him to ask us to increase the size of the font,” said an editor who attended the briefing. “We all looked at each other amazed.” Herald editor Pikirayi Deketeke thought the president may have been referring to adverts by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission which were in even smaller print. But no, it was the stories Mugabe wanted to see, Ndlovu said.
“He called me and said â€˜Sikhanyiso what is this? Yibunyonyo (Itâ€™s ants)â€™.” Deketeke told Ndlovu there was nothing the editors could do about the font size as it was a worldwide standard and could not be changed.
Mugabe arrived back from a visit to the Far East last Sunday. He was spotted on Saturday inside a Carrefour hypermarket in Singapore, shopping with his family, presumably before heading home.
“They spent much time in the toiletries section. I have to say that the scene was quite surreal,” a website reader said.