HomeCommentPublic Media Must Shed Straitjacket

Public Media Must Shed Straitjacket

IT was good to see President Robert Mugabe and his supporters pledging their commitment to the Short-term Emergency Recovery Programme last Thursday.


What we need now is to reform the public media so the people have access to a variety of views.
The Sunday Mail has for instance been harbouring state propagandists who think Morgan Tsvangirai and his MDC ministers have a duty to fit in with Zanu PF’s hidebound thinking.

One commentator last weekend argued that the prime minister “should continue to trim his political frame to fit the straight (sic) jacket which the service chiefs are guarding and should continue guarding”. He should adopt their “values system”, we were told.

General Vitalis Zvinavashe was cited as a good example of someone upholding those values.

The writer appears unaware that a straitjacket is not something to be valued or commended. It is a symbol of imposed conformity.

Why should Tsvangirai want to be confined to an object that reflects all that is rigid and totalitarian in our society? Zimbabwe’s freedoms were won and then abused by many who today claim to be their guardians. Which is why a majority of voters rejected their blandishments last March.

Zimbabweans overwhelmingly saw the MDC as the party of reform and recovery.
So those who want to see Tsvangirai adhering to the state’s discredited “values system” are in for a rude awakening. It ain’t going to happen!

And how can the author in all seriousness lecture Tsvangirai on national sovereignty in the same week that Zimbabwe was forced to adopt the rand as its reserve currency because the post-liberation aristocracy have so completely pillaged the economy that our own currency has all but disappeared?

By the way, newspapers should where possible disclose the function of those contributing to their columns. Why did the Sunday Mail not tell us who Malvern Makoena is?

Is the paper ashamed to have the author of such pernicious views made known to readers? Despite his self-indulgent patriotism he has yet to discover the year in which the Battle of Chinhoyi was fought!

We had another self-indulgent patriot calling himself “New African” on the letters page of the Herald on Monday.

His contribution was a virulent diatribe against UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon for not lifting sanctions.

The author also took a few pot shots at Barack Obama for failing to help Zimbabwe’s “farms to flourish” and “clean waters flow”.

We suspect this was an opinion piece shunted across to the letters column so it couldn’t be seen as reflecting the views of the “new-look” Herald. A number of old-guard reactionaries are taking refuge in the letters column when once they occupied more prominent space.

They are evidently in denial about exactly who has prevented Zimbabwe’s farms from flourishing!

And what exactly is Sunday Mail columnist Tafataona Mahoso’s function?

Here is another self-advertised patriot. He used to call himself the “executive chair” of the Media and Information Commission when he was whipping newspapers into line.

Now we learn that outfit continued to exercise authority over journalists long after its functions had been abolished by new legislation. And it never provided for an “executive” chairman in the first place!

Amidst all the recent tributes to the late Zvinavashe, we came across this statement by him which appears to have gone largely unnoticed.

“There is no need to fight over these results,” he reportedly said after last year’s election. “We must accept the reality that we have lost the elections to the MDC.

What is important for us is to live together in peace, both winners and losers. We do not want violence in this area. We are relatives.

“Most of us lost these elections not because we are not popular in our constituencies. We lost these elections because of one man.

People rejected us because we were campaigning for him. People in Masvingo have rejected him and we became collateral damage…”

The statement was first published by NewZimbabwe.com last year but we are grateful to the MMPZ for drawing it to our attention again.

Among the US$1 billion the government said it urgently needs are a few items of particular interest. Firstly, we always wondered what happened to the fuel bill from Equatorial Guinea. Now it has arrived. It currently stands at US$222 million. That’s the price of solidarity it seems!

And there we were thinking the Fort Hare scholarships were a reflection of presidential bounty. We recall the lucky recipients lining up at State House where they were told to work hard.

Never did we think one day the bill would arrive — and that it would be taxpayers picking up the tab!

Muckraker has always been a tad sceptical about the French version of the Commonwealth, La Francophonie.

French embassies around the world were mobilised recently to generate public interest in a week of cultural activities.

The organisation includes countries that use the French language or “where a large part of the population speak French”, we were told. A list of countries was provided.

But we would take a lot of convincing that the following countries have populations that speak any French at all: the Czech Republic, Egypt, Mozambique, Austria and Romania.

How did they get to be included?

How many French-speaking Mozambicans are there? Muckraker would be happy to discuss this with our French friends over a nice Chateauneuf du Marondera (2009)… And we promise not to mention Madagascar.

At the same time the Commonwealth should never have agreed to include Mozambique and Cameroon in their ranks.

At least Cameroon has a slither that is Anglophone. All Mozambique can claim is that they drive on the left!

Our thanks to blogger Levi Mhaka for his mail headed “Serious Breach of Protocol at Heroes Acre”. It contains useful information.

“On Saturday March 14 there was a burial of Retired Army Commander Vitalis Zvinavashe at Heroes Acre in Harare,” he writes.

“During salutations by President Robert Mugabe, he recognised Vice Presidents, the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Ministers, Senate President, and Speaker of Parliament.

He then breached state protocol by officially recognising Zanu PF National Chairman John Nkomo and Zanu PF Secretary for Administration, Didymus Mutasa.

“He then mentioned the Chief Justice. Both of the two Zanu PF men recognised by their party positions are mere Ministers of State.

They should not have been recognised at all. On placing flowers at the grave, the Zanu PF Chairman was called to do so ahead of the Senate President and Speaker of Parliament.

“The seating arrangement in the VIP tent was such that the Zanu PF National Chairman (Nkomo) had a place reserved for him. Up to this day, there is no record anywhere of anyone raising (this matter).

“This is contrary to the Preamble of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) which (emphasises) our shared commitment to re-orient our attitudes towards respect for the Constitution and all national laws, the rule of law, observance of Zimbabwe’s national institutions, symbols and national events.”

“Article 8 further deals with the same matter.

The burial of a national hero is a “national event” at a “national institution” under a “national law”.

Therefore the decision to confer national hero status should be done by a non-partisan body and the protocol to be observed should be non-partisan.

The National Order of Precedence (NOP) should be formalised and gazetted so that it does not become subject to personal whims.

The problem is the state protocol office is part of the Office of the President and it has people of “residual resistance”, as the Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai called it on a different subject.

“Relatedly, even after the coalition government, the Zanu PF politburo meets on Wednesday during working hours.

The Ministry of Youth has been an extension of the Zanu PF Department of Youth Affairs to access fiscal funds.

The national bus company, Zupco, has been asked to provide transport to Zanu PF events without being paid.

The little that the company has received came from the then Ministry of Local Government, National Housing and Public Works.

“The determination of heroes should now be done by the creation of a National Honours and Merit Awards Committee, while the National Unity Day when Zanu PF and PF Zapu merged into one political party should either be reformed so that it celebrates the unity of Zimbabweans as a people or scrapped as a national holiday.

“Every nation has a system of recognising and rewarding the outstanding feats and achievements of its citizens. Such recognition and reward place on record public appreciation for the contributions of those citizens who have distinguished themselves in their services to the nation.

They are also instruments for motivating the wider citizenry to strive for greater heights and to contribute more actively towards promoting the nation’s intellectual, creative and societal value systems.

“All these matters were dealt with by the Global Political Agreement and put in Constitutional Amendment No 19. There are so many other instances that the Prime Minister should immediately deal with. We are starting all over as a new nation.”


Did the visiting Norwegian team this week tell Simbarashe Mumbengegwi that Norway is a member of the EU?

The Herald on Wednesday was certainly under that impression. (It isn’t.) And it would be useful to hear the Norwegian team’s reaction to Mumbengegwi’s ridiculous claim that “we have never had political prisoners in Zimbabwe”.

Did they buy that attempt to kick sand in their eyes? We doubt it.

Over 70 Iranian tourists arrived in Zimbabwe on Monday, the Business Herald reported. They will be joined by 90 others.

“In total 300 tourists from the Arab country are expected to visit Zimbabwe this month.”
And will they be impressed? Not if the Herald insists on describing them as Arabs!

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