HomeOpinionMuckraker: State Media Takes Spin to Dizzying Heights

Muckraker: State Media Takes Spin to Dizzying Heights

Distortion in the state media is reaching epic proportions. South African president Kgalema Motlanthe was quoted in the Herald last Saturday as “slamming” the MDC-T for having a “lackadaisical” attitude towards forming an inclusive government.

In fact Motlanthe said “the parties there (in Zimbabwe) have sometimes had a lackadaisical attitude to these matters”, referring to forming an inclusive government and solving the humanitarian crisis.

In other words, the Herald inserted the MDC-T into their story as the sole target of Motlanthe’s remarks.
And where did the Herald get its story? It looks suspiciously like Ebrahim Harvey’s interview in the Mail & Guardian. If so, they omitted the bit where Motlanthe referred to “fair conditions for a presidential run-off” not existing in June which led the Sadc heads to act on the Zimbabwe crisis.

And for the record, Sadc has not “rejected” a request for a meeting between Motlanthe, President Mugabe, and Morgan Tsvangirai. Sadc executive secretary Tomaz Salomao simply said Sadc had no plans to convene such a meeting at present.

Not quite the same thing, is it?

Meanwhile, it was useful to have Motlanthe disclose in the M&G interview that he called Mugabe and asked for a passport to be placed in a diplomatic bag and sent to Tsvangirai, which was done. Amazing isn’t it that South Africa had to intervene to ensure Tsvangirai got what he was entitled to.

There has been a whole raft of speculative comments in the government press about what Motlanthe said, Salomao said and Frazer said. Some of it is even put in quotation marks when the reporter is obviously quoting himself!

None of these three would make the sort of crass statements they are quoted as making. And why does the Herald believe it is promoting constructive dialogue by insulting Tsvangirai on a daily basis and printing the state’s childish claims about leadership divisions in the party?

Why hasn’t any government commentator said when and where Frazer made the remarks she was reported by them to have made regarding Tsvangirai being “too weak to stand up to Mugabe”? Strange isn’t it that nobody can source those remarks?

Hasn’t Zanu PF woken up yet to the fact that Zimbabweans do not hate Britain and the US? The target of public outrage is located closer to home!

How many Zimbabweans do you hear going around saying “it’s all the fault of Britain and the US”? Only a handful of fools in the government press say that.

And Zanu PF’s concoction that it is the Americans holding Tsvangirai back from joining a unity government is equally daft. It is the majority of MDC-T members who don’t want him to be associated with a party that abducts and tortures its members.

Mugabe’s gang think that their tactics will force Tsvangirai into their discredited project. But it is having the opposite effect. How can a party committed to democratic reform and the rule of law submit to one that kidnaps and tortures them as a means of coercion?

And why is Zimpapers thanking Sikanyiso Ndlovu for his sterling service to the media as Minister of Information? What did the public say when they voted in Mpopoma on June 27 when a by-election was held in that constituency alongside the presidential run-off?

He tried to get the MDC to “see sense” during his tenure as minister, Ndlovu told the Sunday Mail. But it seems they weren’t listening. Nor was anybody else.

It was one of three by-elections to be held post-March and it repeated what voters said so decisively on March 29. Muckraker forecast a humiliating defeat for Ndlovu at the polls after the minister made boasts at the Quill Club.

Never mind, the Sunday Mail gave his Zdeco distance education project several paragraphs of free advertising. A consolation prize.

Muckraker was interested to see Justice Edwin Cameron’s remarks on the role of judges following his elevation to South Africa’s constitutional court.

He was asked by the Sunday Times whether he agreed with Justice Carole Lewis who criticised the quality of judges suggesting that “the problem arose when political connections and race took precedence over merit in appointments to the bench”.

“I think that she rightly signalled a widely-held concern,” Cameron replied. “Being a judge is a tough job technically, a tough job emotionally, a tough job intellectually, and we need tough men and women who can do it.”

What he meant was crystal clear. The bench needs justices who can exercise an independent mind, who can stand up to political pressure and who are not seen as creatures of ministers.

No South African judge, for instance, seeking the respect of his peers in the legal profession, would take ownership of a confiscated farm knowing full well that the lease on that farm could be withdrawn by the Minister of Lands at any given time.

Cameron follows events in Zimbabwe closely. His appointment is a welcome addition to South Africa’s constitutional order and we wish him well.

Has our old friend Gideon Gono got a licence to trade in US dollars? Obviously he has because his recent autobiographical work is sold exclusively in the US unit. Perhaps he awarded himself a licence! Meanwhile, his green bombers are visiting newspapers to inspect their forex receipts.

This is what is called selective application of the law. Unless of course he is prepared to show us his. It would be useful to know how the book is selling. Public libraries will be classifying it under “Fiction”, we are told.

Muckraker has not watched ZTV for years. It is very simply unwatchable.

But over the holiday in a moment of madness, Muckraker tuned in to Channel 138 on DStv and started to watch an episode of Prison Break, which looked very much as if it had been lifted from another network.

Then, halfway through, the soundtrack gave way to what sounded a bit like Soul Train.

Obviously, something had gone seriously wrong at Pocket’s Hill. So we watched another channel and then returned to ZTV 20 minutes later. But the soul music was still blaring out while the Prison Break episode continued minus its original soundtrack.

We don’t know for how long this went on. But nobody at ZTV seemed to notice. We would hazard a guess that somebody had gone to sleep and leaned on the audio control. Can ZTV shed any light on this strange occurrence?

Manheru in his piece last Saturday gave us a useful exhibition of how to invent a story and then write an editorial to support it. The targets of his venom were Eddie Cross, Roy Bennett and Ian Kay.
This coterie of “Rhodesians” are accused of suborning Tsvangirai so certain strategic ministries are reserved for themselves.

In that way they will return the country to the past, we are rather improbably told.

Throughout his piece Manheru repeatedly used the word “ignorant”. The three accused are for instance called “a haughty, ignorant triumvirate” even though the charges against them are entirely imagined by the meisterspinner himself.

Cross’s metaphor, in an article he wrote, about passengers saying they would not climb aboard the unity bus so long as Mugabe is at the wheel, appears to have given particular offence to the haughty Manheru.
“It is a vivid imagery, a more advanced metaphor than Welensky’s rustic horse and rider one, so fashionable in federal days,” he declared.

There’s only one thing wrong here. The horse and rider metaphor was the product of Godfrey Huggins, not Roy Welensky.

“Oh ignorance the leveller,” Manheru comments later on.

We have commented here before on the Met Office report in the Herald being a work of fiction. On Tuesday they had the minimum for Harare as two degrees. A bit on the chilly side, you may think.
But pity the poor inhabitants of Bulawayo. Their minimum was minus three. In January!

Also in Tuesday’s Herald, under the 50 Years Ago heading, was an interesting report on Ruwa Scout Park where parents were helping their children prepare for the Central African Jamboree.

“A large arena had been prepared and planted with grass,” we were told, “and the camp had been installed with electricity and telephones, all without outside assistance.”

Imagine that. In 1959 the Ruwa Scout Camp had electricity and telephones installed by volunteers. And a Scout Jamboree was held without anybody being arrested and imprisoned on dubious charges. How far we have come!

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