â€˜CHAOS rocks indaba,â€ the Herald told us on Tuesday morning. This followed the shocking events of the previous day when youths had run riot at the All-Stakeholders meeting on constitutional reform at the Harare International Conference Centre, singing and dancing, and drowning out remarks by Speaker Lovemore Moyo and secretary to parliament Austin Zvoma.
They pelted dignitaries with an assortment of missiles including bottled water.
The Herald omitted to tell us which youths were responsible for this anarchy. Nor did it tell us why President Mugabe failed to turn up. It also omitted to mention that many of the rabble had reportedly arrived with Saviour Kasukuwere and Patrick Zhuwao. Joseph Chinotimbaâ€™s presence went unmentioned.
All we were told is that President Mugabe described the events as â€œdisturbingâ€. The best Morgan Tsvangirai could do was to â€œassociate myself with what His Excellency saidâ€¦â€ â€” something which he does a lot of nowadays!
What we find â€œdisturbingâ€ is the selective coverage of all this.
It was obvious to the public at large which party used the pretext that some people were not singing the national anthem to create chaos. And it was clearly evident who was toyi-toying and preventing others from speaking.
Here was a test for our public media and they predictably failed it.
Tafataona Mahoso, who likes to point out to the media their shortcomings, needs some instruction himself. He said in his long-winded column in the Sunday Mail last weekend that Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai took his personal spokesman with him â€œon what was supposed to be an official state visit to Europe and the United Statesâ€.
Mahoso should be the first to understand that prime ministers cannot make state visits abroad. Only heads of state can make state visits. Tsvangiraiâ€™s visit was an official visit. There is no such thing as an â€œofficial state visitâ€.
Mahoso waxed indignant over the West setting benchmarks for Zimbabwe on issues of governance. In fact they said the GNU should meet its own benchmarks before it approaches the West for aid. Why is that so unreasonable?
Mahoso purports to speak for the people of Zimbabwe in his column, as in â€œthe people want the effects of the last 10 years of illegal sanctions to be tackled as an emergencyâ€.
In fact the people want an end to Zanu PFâ€™s damaging misrule. That is what they voted for just over a year ago. Mahoso ended up on the losing side in that contest. The people rejected the pretensions of the rotten and discredited post-liberation aristocracy he speaks for.
Mahosoâ€™s dishonest explanations for the collapse of the economy no longer find purchase with the Zimbabwean public. But he continues to churn out ideologically sclerotic views which have long since passed their â€œsell-byâ€ date.
He should read Moeletsi Mbekiâ€™s revealing views in Architects of Poverty: Why African Capitalism Needs Changing, reproduced recently in the Star under the heading, â€œColonised by the black eliteâ€.
â€œNationalism in Africa has always paraded itself as a movement of the people fighting for their liberation,â€ Mbeki notes. â€œThe reality is rather different.â€
He points out that African nationalism was the preserve of a small Westernised black elite fighting for inclusion in the colonial system.
Their record has been spectacularly damaging, he argues.
He gives the example of Zimbabwe where once the ruling party had consolidated its hold on power, â€œthe Zanu PF political elite proceeded to enrich itself to the great detriment of the national economy and of the welfare of the population at largeâ€.
Such actions have ensured that most Africans in sub-Saharan Africa are poor and getting poorer, Mbeki says. He uses figures from the World Bank and US National Bureau of Economic Research to show that 36% of the regionâ€™s population lives in economies that in 1995 had not regained the per capita income levels first achieved before 1960. Another 6% are below levels first achieved by 1970, 41% below 1980 levels and 11% below 1990 levels.
â€œOnly 35 million people reside in nations that had higher incomes in 1995 than they had ever reached before,â€ the bureau points out.
What a shocking indictment and required reading for Mahoso and the gang he defends who he helpfully names in his article!
By the way, Mahoso laments the absence of â€œvisual symbolsâ€ from the inclusive government, claiming that â€œin 1987 the raised and joined fists of Robert Gabriel Mugabe and Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo instantly became the emblems of national unityâ€.
We should not be surprised to hear that Mahoso believes raised fists are a suitable symbol of the countryâ€™s leadership, but Muckraker has another â€œvisual symbolâ€ for consideration: the Jongwe bird on the Zanu PF building in Harare.
The parties agreed in 1987 to have the Great Zimbabwe conical tower as the symbol of the unified party. But Zanu refused to make the change on the headquarters building of the unified formation and today its exclusive symbol remains there as a stark warning to the MDC of what happens when you leave structural issues unresolved and trust Zanu PF to do what they promised.
The Herald told us on Monday that the conviction of the MDC-T MP for Chipinge South Meki Makuyana brings to four the number of MDC-T MPs convicted of various crimes.
The paper ran this as its main story with the headline â€œMDC-T MP jailed for kidnappingâ€.
Why does the Herald never run a story saying â€œMwale escapes arrestâ€?
How many Zanu PF supporters have been convicted of kidnapping since last yearâ€™s unprecedented political violence? What has happened to those who Jestina Mukokoâ€™s lawyers say were responsible for kidnapping her?
Only last week Judge-President Rita Makarau spoke out against the torture of suspects held in police custody. Why, when the perpetrators have committed such a crime, have they not been brought to justice?
Zimbabweâ€™s good friend China has been in the news last week. TV networks showed footage of Chinese colonists in Shaoguan, the capital of Xing-jiang province, patrolling the streets with metal pipes looking for ethnic Uighurs to attack. An estimated 180 were killed in the carnage.
The Chinese government is telling the world that the violence was stoked by exiled Uighurs. But the real story is that local Uighurs bitterly resent the invasion and colonisation of their region by Han-Chinese. Like the citizens of Tibet, the Uighurs want their freedom from Chinese rule.
As the Star pointed out last week, the bloody crackdown in Shaoguan â€œconfirms that China remains a repressive autocracy intolerant of cultural diversityâ€.
We liked the story in The Zimbabwean about Gushungo Dairy Estate being a model farm. A number of ministers had said how operations at the farm with its state-of-the-art milking parlour show the first family was â€œtaking farming seriouslyâ€.
Itâ€™s a pity dairy farmers elsewhere in the country have been prevented from taking farming seriously. They have been instructed to cease operations. Many of the cows that used to constitute the national dairy herd have been sent for slaughter. Dairy farming is a pathetic shadow of its former self thanks to Mugabeâ€™s disastrous land policies.
Workers at Gushungo Dairy estate, formerly known as Foyle Farm owned by Ian Webster, told The Zimbabwean that the new ownersâ€™ â€œsuccessâ€ owed much to the support of the Reserve Bank and Arda.
Agricultural experts from state enterprises were seconded to work at the estate, the workers said.
Senior Zanu PF officials were amazed by what they saw at the estate. Local Government minister Ignatious Chombo said he had â€œnever seen a dairy of this kindâ€. Â
â€œIt has to be emulated,â€ he said. â€œI am extremely impressed.â€
Mashonaland Central governor Martin Dinha, whose fawning remarks we published a few weeks ago, said Gushungo Dairy gives us a lot of â€˜proudâ€™ (sic) as a province.â€
Perhaps when he is not too busy being â€œproudâ€, Dinha could tell us what role he played in the melÃ©e at the HICC on Monday.
We were surprised to hear the president announce at last weekâ€™s investment conference that farmers who had made improvements on acquired farms had been fully compensated.
â€œThe responsibility to compensate farmers rests on the shoulders of the British government and its allies,â€ he declared. â€œWe pay compensation for improvements. That is our obligation and we have honoured that.â€
Really? Can he name a single farmer who has been paid compensation?
How can he get away with this sort of thing?
Anyway, it was good to have outgoing British ambassador Andrew Pocockâ€™s observation on the record. â€œIn the fairly recent past the Zimbabwean government has said that compensation rests with the United Kingdom government. Well it does not â€” either legally or morally. At Lancaster House sovereignty was transferred to the Zimbabwean government. The disruption on the farms was not caused by anything to do with the United Kingdomâ€¦it was driven by Zimbabwean government policyâ€¦therefore we have no legal obligation for compensation. Weâ€™ve never accepted that and we wonâ€™t.â€
Thatâ€™s a message that needs to be firmly delivered to Morgan Tsvangirai, Arthur Mutambara and Welshman Ncube as much as to Mugabe who tried to convince a sceptical audience that the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act was not a threat to investors, just a measure promoting local participation in the economy. You can guess who the â€œlocalsâ€ will be!
An international package for land compensation and agricultural recovery is indeed possible, even necessary, but never in the present circumstances of lawlessness and downright theft.
Nor, by the way, is there likely to be any investment. Mugabe put paid to that last week â€” ironically at the very conference touted as the beginning of recovery and image change.
Another own goal it would seem!
Muckraker fully supports Childline in its campaign to supply blankets to street kids. This is a noble aim at this time of year when it is bitterly cold at night.
But should Econet be bothering its customers with begging texts any time of the day or night? That goes for other 444 messages which amount to unsolicited junk mail being disseminated by the service provider like the â€œThanks a Millionâ€ promotion?
Econet should exercise some discretion in the frequency and nature of these messages and stop making a nuisance of itself.
By the way, did the Met Office ever reply to the letter to the editor of the Herald complaining about the silly weather report saying temperatures went down to -12 degrees at some point last month? We know it was cold but not that cold!
It once snowed in Gweru in 1923. But before cheeky colleagues take a pot shot, no, Muckraker was not around to file the story.