MUCKRAKER is reluctant to dismiss Arthur Mutambara as a mere demagogue competing for space in the nationâ€™s already crowded parade ground of nationalist poseurs.
But judging by his populist remarks on Heroes Day, thatâ€™s exactly where he belongs.
Telling the Western powers to “back off”, he said sanctions were “totally retrogressive” and are “a vote of no confidence in Africans”.
What would he call the state-orchestrated violence that took place between March and June? A vote of confidence? And why is he diverting our attention to Western predators when the local variety go unremarked?
Given his education and experience you would have thought Mutambara would know something about how inter-dependent we all are in the global village. Zimbabwe will soon need all the help it can get in crafting a recovery programme. Will he tell donors then to “back off”?
Those countries which have condemned political violence and demanded accountability in governance will be asked for large sums of money to put right what our political demagogues have wrecked.
This is not the time to be parroting Mugabe in claiming “Zimbabweans will be masters of their own destiny”. This is simplistic nonsense, just as is Mugabeâ€™s call to “allow the country to freely chart its destiny as a sovereign people”.
Is that what happened after March 29? Was the country allowed to “freely chart its destiny”? Mutambara should tell us.
Instead of ingratiating himself with our delinquent rulers Mutambara should speak of the nationâ€™s need to avoid the mistakes of the past. Is he so anxious for office that he canâ€™t tell it like it is?
Muckraker is curious about the latest discourse from Jonathan Moyo. He has taken it upon himself to attack Botswanaâ€™s decision to expel Caesar Zvayi. It was “shocking treachery”, he claimed, to deport Zvayi who held a legal work permit.
Leaving aside the number of journalists deported from Zimbabwe who held legal work permits while Moyo was Minister of Information, one detects in the Tsholotsho MPâ€™s vituperations the same sort of nationalist posturing that Mutambara is guilty of.
“When a country has more goats than people,” Moyo opined, “it suffers a serious leadership deficiency as is happening in Botswana where a primitive and intolerant military junta is masquerading as a democracy.”
Couldnâ€™t we say the same about a primitive and intolerant junta closer to home?
Let us hope Moyo is not advertising his candidacy for office with these populist remarks about a neighbour which alone among Sadc states has stood up for the people of Zimbabwe when they had an election stolen from them.
We had “an observer” telling us that Botswana was likely to be seen as closer to the EU than Sadc with the sort of remarks their foreign minister had been making.
How many Zimbabweans will care that Botswana is seen as closer to the EU than Sadc? What matters is that they get a government of their choice. In any case, this clumsy attempt by a not-so-mysterious “observer” to suggest that Botswana should do the wrong thing just because the rest of Sadc is doing the wrong thing by turning a blind eye to electoral fraud is no longer so pertinent.
Most Sadc states, including allies such as Angola and Tanzania, have since firmed up on their positions regarding Zimbabweâ€™s elections. Officials such as the one who spoke to the Herald can no longer count on the regionâ€™s acquiescence in electoral truancy. That has been one of the more encouraging developments to emerge from the past few months.
And the next time somebody wants to draw attention to themselves by talking about how iniquitous sanctions are, perhaps they can remind us of the sanctions taken against the Daily News and its staff.
The Heraldâ€™s political and features editor Mabasa Sasa, who assumed the heroic mantle bequeathed by Caesar Zvayi, is an engaging writer. But he needs helpful guidance. In his latest epistle he complains that “the silent masses” should not be airbrushed from our record of the past. Traditional historians have tended to focus on glorious events, he points out, that have led us to celebrate names such as Josiah Tongogara, Shaka, Napoleon and “Alexander of Mesopotamia”.
But we need to take account of the social dimension, he reminds us.
The record of those airbrushed from history is decidedly wider and more diverse than powerful individuals, Mabasa notes
We agree. But who is Alexander of Mesopotamia? Is he related to Alexander of Macedonia, we wonder?
As for “Wolfgang van Goethe”, who pops up in Sasaâ€™s article, he must be a Dutch cousin of German man of letters Johann Wolfgang von Goethe!
One of Goetheâ€™s finest plays is about Dr Faust who sells his soul to the devil in return for knowledge.
Sasa should ask Mutambara if heâ€™s heard of it.
Sasa did make a useful contribution to the political process this week. By publishing the agreements the three parties had signed to date he exposed the MDC-T as prepared to endorse Zanu PF’s delusional agenda on sanctions, “external interfence” and “pirate” radio stations.
MDC-T supporters will be outraged by this childish nonsense. But they will be pleased that the negotiators rejected any “unlawful, violent, undemocratic means of changing governments”. That presumably deals with June 27!
Mutambaraâ€™s press conference on Wednesday rather killed Sasaâ€™s dramatic front-page story headed “Deal Sealed”. It was inconceivable, he said, that he could sign a separate deal with Mugabe when the talks were part of a trilateral process. There had been a break, he said, not a break-down.
It was a welcome clarification.
Despite the agreement of all parties not to leak information to the press, Zanu PF has been leaking like a sieve, telling the public what President Mugabe would or would not accept in the way of a settlement and taking pot shots at Tsvangirai, claiming he had misled his own negotiators.
The government press is having great difficulty restraining itself from attacking the MDC-T.
It would be useful to know what agreement the negotiators have reached on freeing the public media from partisan control.
Unprofessional habits are now so well ingrained that it will take months if not years to build a media that serves the people of Zimbabwe as a whole.
We referred last week to the new ideology of “the talks”. Nobody is allowed to say a word of disagreement with this private palaver parlour.
Indeed, when photo-journalist Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi was beaten and taken from his home to Southerton police station on July 24, he was asked, he says, why he was showing the country in a bad light and not giving talks a chance.
This was a nice irony coming on the same day that John Makumbe was denounced for suggesting that violence persisted in various parts of the country.
It is shocking that party leaders can sit down to discuss the countryâ€™s future when people still have political charges outstanding against them.
At the Kempton Park talks in 1993 the ANC ensured that all their members were released from prison before talks could start and that sanctions stayed in place until the ANC was sure of a democratic transition.
Could Mbeki be reminded of this the next time he jets in.
Gongs galore have been handed out this week to individuals who proved highly “patriotic” during the recent electoral run-off including one who presided over the election fiasco itself.
The awards, which look very much like acknowledgements of personal loyalty and appear to fall into the same category as judicial propitiation, might also give the impression of one departing office and wishing to thank those who kept him there. Or is that wishful thinking?
One of the issues that has been under discussion in the inter-party talks has been the need for a restoration of professionalism in the various arms of the state.
That will by definition include the understanding that these arms serve the nation and not individuals who have glued themselves to the seat of power.
Has anyboby seen Statutory Instrument 103/08 imposing a licensing fee on households running generators?
Can you imagine anything so iniquitous?
Zesa provides a totally inadequate service to the nation.
But then seeks to impose a levy on people who have to provide their own electricity.
This is misrule writ large and explains why we have to give Zanu PF and its crony parastatals the boot.