Muckraker: Gono’s Fast-track Online Doctorate

SINCE the launch of his book, Casino Economy, last week RBZ Governor Gideon Gono has been all over the media boasting about his education and claiming to have a PhD in Strategic Management from Atlantic International University.

It is important to note that Atlantic International University is not accredited by the US Department of Education. What this means is that its credentials are open to question.

Muckraker refers anyone seeking further information on the night school doctoral programme to webpage: Lack of accreditation in the US means the qualifications offered by that institution are not recognised by employers and other reputable institutions.

The university on its website says that it “offers distance learning degree programmes for adult learners”. 

It says “as a nontraditional university, with self-paced programmes taken online, by correspondence or home study, AIU lifts the obstacles that keep professional adults from completing their educational goals”.
“Fast track affordable degree programmes allow adult students to finish college, earn a degree, and advance their careers.”

It is good to see Gono improve his education. But why didn’t he enroll at a university that has a recognised profile and which is endorsed by the US Department of Education? Why this strange little outfit that nobody has heard of?

‘Botswana has availed its territory, material and logistical support to MDC-T for the recruitment and military training of youths for the eventual destabilisation of the country with a view to effecting illegal regime change,” Patrick Chinamasa claimed in a statement published on Monday. “Compelling evidence has already been proffered and the matter is now in the hands of the (Sadc) Troika.”

Needless to say, Chinamasa was unable or unwilling to provide a scrap of “compelling evidence” to support these ludicrous charges. And it is good to see South African president Kgalema Motlanthe saying he doesn’t believe Zimbabwe’s claims. But expect to see MDC-T youths paraded on the ZTV news any night now, all confessing to the charges Chinamasa has brought against them.

Haven’t we all been here before? Does anybody recall the Cain Nkala case when President Mugabe, speaking in Bulawayo, accused the MDC of “terrorism”?

Botswana has rendered itself “a surrogate of Western imperial powers; it is acting contrary to its past role as a Frontline State,” Chinamasa said.

This is laughable although the Botswana authorities may not find it so amusing. Since when has a country’s decision to “act contrary to its past role” been grounds for public abuse?

The Front Line states disappeared in 1994. The organisation no longer exists. Botswana has adapted its foreign policy to the needs of a new era. It has moved on. That is why it is a stable  and prosperous state. Nobody takes Zimbabwe’s archaic mantras seriously, including its closest friends.

And the region certainly won’t be impressed by Chinamasa’s threats.

“It is for them (Botswana) to realise that they have put themselves on a course that is bound to bring a lot of suffering on Zimbabweans and the region, including the population of Botswana,” he warned.

Zimbabweans are already suffering without Botswana’s intervention, thanks to Zanu PF.

“The MDC-T had negotiated in bad faith and has engaged in dialogue as a ploy to string us along,” Chinamasa claimed.

“Since the cholera outbreak began in August,” he claimed,” Britain and the United States along with several African askaris like Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga have called for an invasion of Zimbabwe…We can look our people in the eye and say ‘enough is enough’. Our backs are now to the wall and a day may soon come when each and every one of us may be called to defend our revolutionary gains and our sovereignty,” he said.

Now what do you call that language if not warlike? Since when has Britain or the US advocated the invasion of Zimbabwe? Yes, they called for Mugabe to go. But most Zimbabweans are saying the same thing. That doesn’t require an invasion. And can you imagine any self-respecting government calling the prime minister of another African state an “askari”?

This is childish abuse of the sort you would expect from certain columnists in the Herald, not a whole government.

Perhaps we shouldn’t expect too much. After all, this is a regime where the president calls the leader of the opposition a prostitute. And then can’t understand why nobody wants to join him in government.
This is not the way to get respect. Nor is abducting one’s opponents. Isn’t that bad faith of the worst kind?

How can Chinamasa talk of bad faith when people are being made to disappear?

If the state behaves like a South American dictatorship of the 1970s it will get the reputation it deserves. The whole world is following the Justina Mukoko case, quite rightly regarding it as emblematic of Zimbabwe’s cruel misrule.

Then of course there is the small matter of making arbitrary changes to provisions in draft legislation without telling the people you are negotiating with!

The Government of Botswana meanwhile has called for an end to sabre-rattling. It urged “all those calling for military action against Zimbabwe to desist from doing so as such action can only prolong and bring more suffering to the people of Zimbabwe who have already suffered enough at the hands of the authorities in that country. 

Furthermore, those calls can only give credence to claims we now hear emanating from Zimbabwe of a plot to invade the country.  The claim of an invasion in our view is nothing more than a desperate attempt to gather support and sympathy from within and outside Zimbabwe
in order to distract attention from the real problem.”

Government spin doctors can be excused when they accuse Western news agencies of misreporting or distorting President Mugabe’s remarks. But we had on Thursday the extraordinary case of presidential spokesman George Charamba excoriating the BBC and France 24 for reporting accurately.

The two broadcasters had quoted Mugabe saying at Heroes Acre that: “I am happy to say our doctors, assisted by others and the WHO, have now arrested cholera. So now there is no case for war anymore.”
It was good to hear cholera has been arrested rather than abducted. But the president was being sarcastic, Charamba pointed out.

“President Mugabe clinched his argument through sarcasm,” he said, noting that now efforts deployed so far towards containing the outbreak were beginning to yield positive results, could the West now call off the war they had declared?”

Their reporting was a “wilful distortion of a clear statement”, he said.

In fact it was a straight-forward piece of reporting what the president said. Is it seriously suggested networks should broadcast what the president wished he has said or meant to say?

Then we had Sikhanyiso Ndlovu providing the following gem.

“The foreign governments calling for President Mugabe to resign are ‘malicious’ and ‘racist’,” he told RFI last Tuesday.  “Those countries can say this to a black government. Why don’t they call on John Major (sic) to step down because there is a failed economy in England?”

Ndlovu has been touting a very old theory that the Rhodesians were responsible for spreading anthrax. Now he has embellished the story to include cholera.

“They seeded cholera around Harare where the new Zimbabwe government later built large-scale housing like Budiriro, Dzivaresekwa, and Chitungwiza so that the freedom fighters would catch the disease and die before they could reach the city,” Ndlovu declared last week.

The minister is a little wide of the mark. The townships he referred to were mostly planned and built by the Muzorewa regime in the late 1970s. They would hardly have seeded cholera among people they regarded as their own supporters.

As Luis Michel, EU aid commissioner, reminded us recently, “cholera is a disease of destitution which used to be almost unknown in Zimbabwe”.

Indeed it is a political disease which strikes those societies where governments have not made sufficient investment in clean water supplies because they are spending money on other things like mercs and huge mansions.

Ministers who try to shift the blame for the current outbreak are simply drawing attention to their own failure to maintain the water system in and around Harare. Zanu PF is a party full of excuses. But they don’t seem to realise nobody believes them any more.

Meanwhile, John Major will be delighted to hear that he should step down, 18 years after the event. Just a pity that our so-called Minister of Information hasn’t a clue who the British prime minister is. What a circus!
And have you noticed that as the multi-faceted national crisis begins to engulf Zanu PF, so they are setting upon each other.

Which may explain certain recent events! Needless to say, they are trying hard to link everything to
their latest plot theory but it won’t wash.

What are we being asked to believe? That there is a link between an attempt on the life of Perrance Shiri, the bombing of Harare Central police station earlier this year, the bombing of the Manyame River road and rail bridges, the bombing of the Harare CID HQ, and another attack on Harare Central police station, the petrol bombing of government institutions last year, the bombing of the Bulawayo-Harare railway line, “compelling evidence” tying Botswana to the training of “bandits” believed to be linked to “an alleged MDC-T plot to unconstitutionally unseat the government”, and cholera planted by the British in the 1970s?
And not a scrap of evidence produced in court to support this web of convenient conjecture.

“The attack on Air Marshal Shiri appears to be a build up of terror attacks targeting high-profile persons…” Kembo Mohadi announced to the gullible state press.

Who apart from Shiri has been “targeted”? We weren’t told. But watch this “plot” and its various permutations as it takes over the public discourse for the next few months.

We have always regarded AFP quite highly as a new agency. But they have one profound structural flaw. They allow an anti-American bias to creep into their copy. Which they can’t really help on account of being French. They don’t like Bush and they hated Blair almost as much as our own state publicists.

One illustration of this bias will suffice. On Tuesday AFP reported “visiting US President George W Bush on Sunday scurried for cover when a journalist hurled his shoes at him”.

Now Muckraker saw that clip several times on Sunday and Monday. Bush didn’t scurry anywhere. He ducked but he didn’t scurry. In fact he showed remarkable agility.

Later in the story AFP corrected its position somewhat. “The shoes missed after Bush ducked…” it admitted.

So where did the “scurry” come from? An editor in Paris? Or was the report embellished at the Herald?
Whatever the case, it probably reflected the views of the Arab street. Bush declared it was a perfect example of people being able to express themselves freely.

The assailant described it as his “parting gift”. Now don’t get any ideas!