HomeCommentMuckraker: Shamu’s ‘free, balanced media’

Muckraker: Shamu’s ‘free, balanced media’

ON his “rare and historic” visit to Gideon Gono’s farm in Norton, President Mugabe asked King Mswati to take with him back to Swaziland “our dear love”.

The king in turn said he had learnt a lot from Zimbabwe’s veteran leader.

“Throughout the many years we have known each other he has always shown me how much he loves his people,” King Mswati said. “Running a country is not always easy.”

Did he say “running” or “ruining”? Until recently Cosatu branded Swaziland alongside Zimbabwe as a rogue regime where workers’ rights were suppressed.

We can imagine Swaziland’s youthful king had much to learn from his Zimbabwean host. In particular he did not appear to know how Zimbabwe’s patronage system worked.

“I am glad to see that the man who is implementing this (silo project at Gono’s farm) is the governor of the central bank. I understand why he is governor.”

So do we. And it has nothing to do with his farming skills!

So now the King can be added to the list of those who are being asked to say a few words in favour of the governor. Service chiefs, delinquent war vets and captive editors have now been joined by royalty to add a bit of class to this motley crew.

Previously, distinguished visitors were asked to voice their approval of land reform. Then they were induced to appeal for the lifting of sanctions on behalf of their hosts.

Now it is the governor who they are being asked to speak up for. Is Gono aware of just how abject he has become in the manipulative hands of his sponsors? And will any international bankers take him seriously again?

The Herald on Monday carried an anchor story headed “Massive wheat shortage looms”. And there staring out at us was a picture of Joseph Made.

How appropriate that association was. But the Herald had an answer for these disastrous circumstances. It was all the fault of “sanctions-induced hyperinflation”.

Zimbabwe National Farmers Union vice-president Garikai Msika said it was the result of poor planning. The government will now spend more importing wheat than it would have done by supporting the farmers, Msika said.

So much for “hyper-induced inflation”.

While Tafataona Mahoso’s turgid column in the Sunday Mail is usually unreadable, it should be read this week by human rights defenders and lawyers for the sinister remarks it contains.

In particular it may be of interest to the representatives of those countries Morgan Tsvangirai will be visiting this month claiming there have been “reforms” in the media sector.

Here is what Mahoso said about those Zimbabweans who he claimed were following in the footsteps of Zambia’s Frederick Chiluba who was discredited, arrested, tried and sentenced: “Our so-called reformers have not only shown their corrupt tendencies quite early in the first months of the inclusive government.

They actually run the risk of being arrested and tried for treason because of their reckless treatment of issues lying at the core of the national interest.”

They were guilty of mishandling “sacred matters” and pursuing personal conflicts of interest and engaging in subversion of public policy, terrorism and subverting the rule of law, he charged.

Mahoso is understandably bitter. A court last week rejected his media pretensions. But who is it who has “subverted public policy”? Who is accused of committing acts of “terrorism” and “subverting the rule of law”? Certainly not the new members of the government.

We would be keen to hear what donors think of these remarks while Tsvangirai travels to Europe and America claiming there has been a change of outlook in Harare.

And please don’t let us hear again from Webster Shamu on how “fair and balanced” the public media is when this sort of hate speech is given prominence.

It is not difficult to discern where Mahoso’s rant is heading. “Those seeking to corrupt the national ideals are focusing on individual incumbents because they know that corruption is determined to a great extent by character,” he wrote.

“So the incorruptible cadres have to be removed at all costs and be replaced by those who have indicated a willingness to change critical national policies in the interest of foreign powers.”

Gideon: You appear to have another new best friend: Tafataona Al Bashir.

Meanwhile, Deputy PM Arthur Mutambara said there was a need to remove international misconceptions that Zimbabwe was a risky country to invest in.

Speaking to the Marondera business community, he said: “It was now everyone’s duty to reflect the right image of the country.”

Indeed it is. Last weekend a group of four freelance journalists won a high court order freeing them from any need to accredit with the defunct Media and Information Commission when carrying out their work, with particular reference to coverage of the Comesa summit taking place at the Victoria Falls.

Justice Bharat Patel granted them an interim order barring Media minister Webster Shamu, permanent secretary George Charamba, former MIC chair Mahoso, and PM Tsvangirai from interfering with their work.

Armed with the court order the four made their way to the Victoria Falls. There they were told by security officials they couldn’t cover the summit because they weren’t accredited.

Here we have a case of lawlessness writ large. Government officials disregarded the court ruling and prevented the journalists from doing their work. Quite clearly this was a disservice to the public and to Comesa which was implicated in this glaring example of misgovernance.

Tsvangirai is trying to explain to foreign leaders that there have been important changes in Zimbabwe including media reforms. The events at the Falls last weekend suggest otherwise.

Included in Tsvangirai’s delegation is Tourism minister Walter Mzembi who is not on the sanctions list. While he is travelling with the PM the Lowveld conservancies are once again facing invasions and disruptions by thugs allied to Zanu PF. Mzembi is unable to address this crisis because he is busy helping Tsvangirai claim that Zimbabwe is on the path to recovery.

Meanwhile, Environment minister Francis Nhema will have difficulty setting up the Zimoza Transfrontier Park with Zambia and Mozambique when it becomes clear what fate awaits the wildlife of Kanyemba if Mililangwe is anything to go by!

Returning to the Vic Falls summit, is anyone going to take an outfit like Comesa seriously when it includes somebody like Al-Bashir, not to mention other notable reprobates?

How can Mutambara, who by the way appears to be sobering up politically, speak of rebranding and correcting “international misconceptions” of Zimbabwe when somebody like Al-Bashir, who is wanted for crimes against his own people, is given a warm welcome at the Falls?

Is this the sort of organisation that will attract international confidence and investment?
In mitigation, it does seem that the majority of heads of state declined to attend. Most countries were represented by vice-presidents and ministers.

Congratulations to Botswana whose foreign minister said Al-Bashir would be arrested the minute he tried to set foot in Botswana. That’s the sort of plain speaking that’s needed on governance
issues if Comesa is to have any credibility.

The Sunday News told us that President Mugabe met, among others, with United Arab Emirates foreign minister “Mr HH Shake Abdul Bin Zaid Alma Hatan”.

Could that be His Highness Sheik Abdul Bin Zaid Alma Hatan?



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