NEWSFLASH: The nation will be relieved to learn that President Mugabe can use a cellphone.
This important development was reported with a front-page picture in the Herald on Monday which showed the president chatting on a cellphone at the airport prior to his departure for a Sadc meeting in Swaziland.
The Herald didnâ€™t tell us what the conversation was about â€“â€“ perhaps a last-minute reminder to pick up a copy of Home & Garden at Mbabane airport or perhaps some Mars bars â€“â€“ but the purpose of the picture was undoubtedly to convey the impression of a thoroughly modern head of state utilising all the technical tools at his disposal.
What we need to know now is, can he use a computer and perhaps even Bluetooth? But he needs to exercise maximum caution when advertising his communication skills. President Nicholas Sarkozi of France was the victim of Internet hackers last month who, it was reported on Sunday, broke into his bank account and stole 200 euros.
Not a kingâ€™s ransom, you may think, but certainly a disconcerting experience.
The ebullient Sarkozi didnâ€™t look too put out, however. He was shown arriving at Camp David after a meeting of La Francophonie â€“â€“ the French Commonwealth â€“â€“ in Quebec. The only cloud hanging over that get-together was the news that Rwanda has abolished the use of French in favour of English and applied to join the formerly British Commonwealth.
This is the outfit, letâ€™s remind ourselves, that Zanu PF publicists like to call the Queenâ€™s tea party. Thatâ€™s because, having made every conceivable effort to remain inside, Zimbabwe left in a huff when it became clear its suspension would not be lifted.
The publicists would have us believe this was a decision of the â€œwhiteâ€ Commonwealth but in fact the move to maintain Zimbabweâ€™s suspension had support from all regions including West Africa, the Caribbean, South East Asia and the Pacific.
It would have been impossible to have maintained the suspension on the basis of a handful of countries agreeing. There had to be substantial consensus, a point understood by all observers except those at the Herald and Sunday Mail who are intent on keeping the public ignorant!
Now the Commonwealth is looking forward to Zimbabwe rejoining once there is a genuine and viable domestic accord.
Judith Makwanya was suggesting last Thursday evening that the presentation of credentials by the new French and German ambassadors showed recognition of President Mugabe.
It may well have done so. But it certainly didnâ€™t imply endorsement of how he got there. Indeed, the French ambassador was quite explicit. Laurent Contini took the opportunity to reiterate Franceâ€™s â€œdeep concernâ€ regarding the partiesâ€™ delayed implementation of the political agreement of September 15.
â€œAs indicated by the European Union, I reaffirm the need to respect the will of the people of Zimbabwe as expressed in the elections of March 29 2008,â€ he said. â€œOnly a government of unity that translates such popular aspirations could be given a positive reception,â€ he said.
â€œI also wish to emphasise that the European Union, as the major donor to Zimbabwe, has upheld its constant commitment in favour of the people of Zimbabwe. As recently underlined by the ministers of Foreign Affairs of the European Union, the EU stands ready to adopt a package of measures to assist in the consolidation of democracy and in the countryâ€™s economic and social recovery as soon as a government of unity will permit to set in motion the restoration of the rule of law.â€
Couldnâ€™t be clearer than that, could it? There are some in the upper echelons who believe they can carry on behaving badly such as refusing to issue Morgan Tsvangirai a passport. This is an abuse of power. Zanu PF should understand that there will not be a penny coming from donors until they stop using agencies such as the Reserve Bank and the National Incomes and Pricing Commission to misgovern.
Evidence of this was forthcoming this week with a statement by NIPC head Goodwills Masimirembwa who appears to be both blind and deaf.
President Mugabeâ€™s electoral promise to empower the people was being thwarted by the need to negotiate with the MDC, he told wartime collaborators.
â€œPresident Mugabe promised to empower the people by taking over the manufacturing industry after the successful implementation of the land reform programme,â€ Masimirembwa claimed. â€œNow he is engaged in a never-ending dialogue with the MDC when he is supposed to be working on ensuring that people are economically empowered.â€
So what makes Masimirembwa think people have been â€œempoweredâ€ by Mugabeâ€™s policies when they are destitute and starving?
What sort of empowerment is it when the country has to depend upon the US and EU for basic sustenance?
Masimirembwa, whose thinking, if we can call it that, was decisively rejected by voters in March, now wants Mugabe to inflict further damage on the country by doing to manufacturing what he did to land.
How bad does it have to get before zealots like Masimirembwa get a grasp on the extent of the countryâ€™s decline? Or do they content themselves with the thought that it is all somebody elseâ€™s fault?
By the way, does anybody recall claims that Zimbabweans in the diaspora were mobilising funds for recovery? Did anybody hear any further mention of those funds? And what about the Mother of all Seasons? How much was spent on that advertising fiasco?
A few weeks ago we drew attention to the river cascading down East Road in Avondale. This was following a lecture from Zinwa on how we should save water.
Muckraker drove past it this week. It is now a lake. Why has the Botswana embassy not complained? Or is this part of their punishment!
What a disappointment David Mwanak0a has been to Zanu PF. They were hoping to use a small incident at his farm in Leicestershire to bring a huge indictment of racism against the whole British population. In fact he declined to be a pliant tool and told BBCâ€™s African Perspectives that he would not return to Zimbabwe to practise farming because it would be like throwing money down a hole.
Zanu PFâ€™s publicists were outraged by this frank admission. They had hoped he would say he benefited from Mugabeâ€™s education system. And their disappointment was compounded when he declined to accuse his neighbours, who had lodged a complaint of theft, of racism but instead called it ignorance, which is obviously what it was.
Dissatisfied with this explanation, the publicists proceeded to bring all the charges Mwanaka would have brought if they had been in charge of his interview. They accused him ofÂ â€œMugabe-bashingâ€.
Very funny, and enjoyable watching these commentators squirm. Nothing seems to be going right for them!
We recall at the height of the farm occupations one of the most common charges made in the state media was thatÂ Â â€œZimbabweans would never be allowed to own property in the UK or have a farm there.â€
Echoing this frustration, a letter writer to the Herald, Kuda J Muronzi, said it wasÂ â€œridiculous for for the opposition to act as if Cde Mugabe and the nation owe them any favoursâ€.
â€œThey are the ones that called for the sanctions that are killing us today and they have still not found the stomach to be honest and tell their British and American financiers to leave this country alone,â€Â Muronzi alleged.
He has a point. The British and Americans should be told to leave this country alone â€“â€“ once Zanu PF agrees to reject violence against its opponents; once the rule of law is restored; once the government stops abusing the public broadcaster for partisan purposes; once the RBZ stops printing money; once we have a professional Registrar-Generalâ€™s office; once Tsvangirai has a passport; once Ignatious Chombo stops interfering with councils; once the government stops begging for food from countries it insults weekly; -â€“â€“ then â€“â€“ and only then â€“â€“ should we tell them to leave us alone !
Muckraker welcomes Caesar Zvayi back to the columns of the Herald after his brief sojourn in Botswana. We congratulate him on his appointment as senior assistant editor.
On Tuesday he complained that President Mugabeâ€™s powers were being sub-contracted to the Sadc troika.
â€œWhat message are we sending over the June 27 run-off if the presidentâ€™s landslide does not give him powers to form a government?â€ Zvayi wanted to know, in much the same tenor as Masimirembwa.
The answer is obvious. The so-called landslide was a fraud. Is that not the conclusion reached by many Sadc states and indeed by most credible observers at home and abroad; that the June result was procured by violence and manipulation?
We are still to get an explanation from the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission why they released constituency results in dribs and drabs when all the results were already in. We also want to know why the presidential vote took nearly three months to count. The ZEC has failed to provide satisfactory answers on those key issues. But at least we know why its chairman received a medal !
Next in line for a gong: Tobaiwa Mudede. He thought he was performing a signal service to Zanu PF by refusing Tsvangirai a passport. But while this sort of political clumsiness may satisfy the governmentâ€™s inner needs, it was an own goal.
Anybody with eyes can see that an emergency travel ocument and a passport are two different things. An ETD can be manipulated to limit travel to specific destinations and indeed to hold up travel altogether.
The Herald devoted many column inches to explaining why Tsvangirai was wrong to complain about his ETD, but nowhere did it explain why he hasnâ€™t been issued with a passport.
Zanu PF clearly wants to inconvenience him. But in so doing it has exposed the regime as insincere. That is not the message it wants to convey. Hence the heading â€œMudede refutes Tsvangiraiâ€™s passport claimsâ€.
But the damage had been done. Mugabe looked bad.
As for the claim that Tsvangirai â€œwent playing golfâ€ on Monday, it is a blatant lie of the sort inserted by official sources in journalistsâ€™ copy.
Letâ€™s at least record it as emblematic of the way the state media is manipulated for partisan purposes. What we want to know is who fed the same lie to Zvayi who used it in his column without asking a single question as to its veracity?
We were interested to note that Zanu PF chief whip Joram Gumbo will be leading a delegation of MPs to attend the forthcoming session of the Pan-African Parliament. Zimbabwe will be in the same boat as Somalia and Sudan, we gather. But Gumbo assures us he will give the â€œtrue Zimbabwean situationâ€. There was no crisis in the country, he said. â€œSome countries were facing worse problemsâ€.
It was critical the local media took a robust stance in telling the Zimbabwean story, he said.
He can be assured we will play our part.
Zvayi, by the way, referred to Ian Khama asÂ â€œthe slouching novice in Gaboroneâ€.
Donâ€™t we recall Mugabe in his long rambling address on September 15 denying making any hostile remarks about Botswanaâ€™s leadership? That evidently didnâ€™t include the newspapers which his government owns and which slavishly reflect his views on a daily basis!
On Tuesday the Herald carried a pernicious editorial saying â€œMorgan should be the last to get a passportâ€.
We thought he was the last! It said we should all swallow the line that there wasnâ€™t enough paper because of MDC-sponsored sanctions.
We bet young Robert had one for his recent visit to New York among the presidentâ€™s gang of 54. In fact we suspect it was a diplomatic one.