Muckraker: Khama’s Crime – A British Mother

NOBODY can accuse this regime of being less than robust in its dealings with perceived enemies.

 

Blair, Brown and Bush have all had abuse of some sort thrown at them because they dared criticise Zanu PF’s misrule.

But now a new “enemy” has walked onto the political stage and immediately attracted a heavy barrage of flak.

Botswana president Ian Khama, or Seretse Khama Ian Khama as he is officially known, has been assailed by our witch-hunters almost to the exclusion of all the other more familiar targets. His sin? He found Zimbabwe’s presidential run-off seriously flawed.

What a cheek, he was not elected, we are told. In fact he heads a military junta. And worse still, his mother was British!

This last insult came from the Chronicle which evidently has no idea of the ordeal his parents went through in the 1950s at the hands of the colonial authorities. The British High Commissioner in Pretoria banished them in response to pressure from the Afrikaner Nationalist government in South Africa. And in any case did Ian Khama get to choose his mother?

Khama was a “rabble-rouser” who headed a “tiny country”, we were told this week. Last week Jonathan Moyo was counting goats.

The accusation that Khama heads a military junta is a tad ironic given the accusations that have been made about the role of JOC in Zimbabwe’s political violence.

Quite evidently our propagandists, having run out of home-made insults, are borrowing the terminology of their opponents!

The Bechuanaland Protectorate invited British rule and never had to struggle for its independence, some of our more cerebrally challenged state publicists have charged.

Can the same not be said of Lesotho and Swaziland? Lesotho is now one of Harare’s closest allies, prepared to endorse all manner of misdeeds.

And what about the Gambia, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Nigeria, Uganda, Tanzania and Malawi? How hard did they have to struggle for their independence beyond constitutional negotiations where the British seemed happy to concede power? Many nationalist fist-wavers are blissfully unaware that all those countries chose to retain Queen Elizabeth as head of state on their attainment of independence. And most kept the outgoing governor on as governor-general.

With the inauguration of a republic a few years later the prime minister –– Nkrumah, Nyerere, Banda –– would seamlessly take over as president. Hardly revolutionary stuff!

Botswana became independent in 1966 without bothering with this transition. Sir Seretse Khama became president from the outset. Today Botswana is an African success story, not because like Zimbabwe it is rich in minerals, but because it was blessed with enlightened rulers who eschewed populism and racism.

No wonder Zimbabwe’s menacing mob loathe Ian Khama. His is a very different paradigm of governance.

Morgan Tsvangirai is under huge pressure to sign a document that will not do justice to his electoral performance in March when he defeated President Mugabe in the first round of voting, and which will place him at a disadvantage by leaving Mugabe in a position to continue damaging the economy.

It will also leave the public media under the control of the President’s Office exposing Tsvangirai to mendacity of the sort we witnessed on Tuesday.

Under the heading “MDC-T leader lied to us about Zim situation”, the newspaper’s political and features editor, Mabasa Sasa, told us that at last weekend’s Sadc summit “leaders from Zambia, Botswana and Tanzania expressed ‘embarrassment’ at having ‘blindly supported Tsvangirai’,”

This exposes the danger of allowing a deceitful media to remain unreconstructed. Is it seriously suggested that leaders from all three countries used exactly the same words? That they all together expressed “embarrassment” at having “blindly supported Tsvangirai”?

Their remarks were placed in quotation marks suggesting Sasa was quoting them. But that seems unlikely. What we almost certainly have here are words being put into their mouths.

This is a common technique in the state media. It is of course wholly unprofessional but deeply ingrained.

We were for instance told that a Nigerian emissary sought a meeting with Mugabe to apologise for taking an “uninformed position on Zimbabwe”.

How likely does that sound? We can be sure that was the author of the story talking and not the Nigerian emissary. A quick phone call to the Nigerian embassy would settle that claim just as a call to the Zambian, Botswana or Tanzanian embassies would put to rest the claims about their leaders’ “embarrassment”.

What we do know is that Zambia’s foreign minister Kabinga Pande said the elections were “a serious blot on the culture of democracy in the region”. Sasa left that authentic quote out of his story.

What all this illustrates is the danger of Tsvangirai returning to the negotiating table to sign an agreement when the state media remains free to lie about him.

Sasa’s predecessor Caesar Zvayi told Herald readers last Friday about his ordeal at the hands of the Botswana authorities. He was picked up in Gaborone and driven to the border where he was placed in “a small stinking cell” prior to his deportation to Zimbabwe.

Zvayi waxed indignant as he recounted his treatment. He even insulted Botswana’s founding fathers for not being sufficiently revolutionary over a century ago. But he omitted to tell us about the number of journalists incarcerated in small stinking cells in Zimbabwe during the presidential election. Nor did he mention those Batswana television journalists arrested near the Plumtree border post in 2006 for practising journalism without accreditation.

Then of course there were the Cosatu visitors bundled into a kombi and driven down to Beitbridge and deported.

Amazing isn’t it how short memories become when writing for the government press!

Muckraker thinks it regrettable that anybody should have to go through this ordeal including Zvayi. We feel no sense of vengeance here. But when complaining about the iniquities of EU sanctions, Zvayi should reflect on the sanctions his former employers imposed on the Daily News and the Tribune. How sympathetic was he towards his colleagues at those newspapers?

Muckraker was interested to read that on Armed Forces Day President Mugabe paid tribute to the government of China for facilitating the procurement of military clothing material to make uniforms.

So this is the rich bounty of the Look East policy is it? They now supply, in addition to military hardware, material for uniforms which Zimbabwe is unable to supply itself. Are we really reduced to this? How pathetic!

China’s economy is forging ahead by leaps and bounds. Zimbabwe, whose ruling elite has pauperised the country, is reduced to accepting handouts of military uniforms.

That’s the best we can do. Meanwhile, blankets, mattresses and vehicle tyres come by courtesy of the Reserve Bank, once again demonstrating inappropriate quasi-fiscal use of its resources.

We saw the full-page ad attempting to justify this misuse of resources and frankly it doesn’t wash. The worst thing about it is that it fuels inflation. The RBZ should not be part of the problem. Gideon Gono must learn to say no to the insatiable demands of his political masters for resources to hand out so they appear as benefactors of the people.

Does Gono really want to be remembered as the governor who contributed in a significant way to Zimbabwe’s collapse?

Information minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu says government won’t tolerate “continuous phone calls on talks from the BBC and CNN which continue to misconstrue our Zimbabwe situation”.

Apparently he is being pestered for comment following Tsvangirai’s alleged walkout.The West must stop interfering in the negotiations, he warned.

So what’s he going to do? Refuse to accept donor money?

It’s very entertaining of the Herald to put a loser like Ndlovu on its pages. People will have a good chuckle over his pathetic attempts to appear militant. What situation are the international networks trying to “misconstrue”? Food shortages?

Ndlovu “warned the West and the private media against trying to force negotiations to be done through the media which is against the principles of the MoU signed by all the parties involved in the dialogue”.

Did we sign the MoU? Does it say we can’t comment on whatever deals are being struck?

Ndlovu should put up or shut up. If the BBC and CNN didn’t ask him for comment on their stories he might have room for complaint. But complaining because they did ask him for comment is hardly cause for a juvenile tantrum –– containing the mandatory reference to “imperialists” and designed to attract presidential attention
ahead of new cabinet appointments.

Ndlovu lost his bid for a seat and therefore no longer qualifies for office. If voters don’t want him why should we? Meanwhile, the Sunday News we gather is in deep mourning.

This could mean no more free drinks.

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