SOMETHING rather interesting happened last week. A proposal by Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono that the Zimbabwe dollar could come back at any time was shot down by the Herald.
He had not read the mood of the country, the newspaper pointed out in an editorial on Saturday.
Indeed, the same thing struck us. It must be obvious to all except President Mugabeâ€™s inner circle that any attempt to resurrect the abused and discredited Zim dollar would be suicidal.
The one good thing we can all agree upon regarding the government of national unity is the monetary stability it has brought via the US dollar. It has introduced a sense of calm and predictability to our hitherto roller-coaster economy. Finance minister Biti has understood this and firmly slapped down any attempt to suggest the Zim dollar could make a comeback.
It is a measure of Gonoâ€™s distance from reality that he could in all seriousness speak of its revival.
This is a useful illustration of how Mugabe and his minions are out of step with public opinion. The Zim dollar is associated with money printing, fiscal chaos and national suffering. In other words, with the Gono era. Everybody seems to understand that except, obviously, Gono himself and his political patrons.
But it is curious that in the same week that Mugabe returned from a smart partnership meeting in Uganda, the Herald felt able to say that â€œno one wants to derail progressâ€ in the economy by going back to a failed currency.
â€œThe currency switch has restarted the Zimbabwean currency and might well make it the worldâ€™s fastest growing this year,â€ the Herald opined. Reintroducing the Zimbabwean currency now â€œwould be a bit like giving an alcoholic a bottle store licenceâ€.
Indeed it would. What we have here is history in the making. Gono for the first time coming under fire in the state media. And by implication his boss. What does this tell us?
Meanwhile, Victoria Ruzvidzo was quoted in the same edition as referring to â€œDr Gideon Goonâ€. This may be taking your newfound free expression a tad far, Victoria!
Poor old Arthur Mutambara has taken a drubbing in the government press. Every half-baked nationalist in the country has climbed aboard the bandwagon to declare AGO a traitor for having dared to suggest that any re-branding process in Zimbabwe should be amenable to the world at large.
Other African leaders gathered in Uganda were equally mortified and outdid each other in beating the nationalist drum.
But this is surely an obvious point. If we are to lure investors and tourists, they should warm to our hospitality, just as Croatia signs off on CNN with the message â€œThe Mediterranean as it once wasâ€ â€” a very effective selling point for a market that values the richness of past civilisations.
If Zimbabweâ€™s rebranding is to work, it must have appeal to the wider world. And that can only come from networks that broadcast to the world. Thereâ€™s not much point buying time with ZTV. Whoâ€™s going to see it?
Meanwhile, the state media remains in denial over what Mutambara identified in an earlier speech as â€œfarm invasions, fraudulent elections, and choleraâ€, undermining whatever brand we craft.
â€œNo King Arthur, thatâ€™s not for us,â€ the Heraldâ€™s Eagle Eye, told us.
Sadly, it is. No amount of rebranding, or for that matter national healing, can take place so long as lawlessness and political persecution persist and the likes of Tafataona Mahoso purport to speak for the nation in the hidebound emissions of yesteryear.
We wish they would tell us why the public media continues to be the exclusive domain of a party whose mantras were decisively rejected by voters in both the legislative and presidential polls last year. The only comfort they can draw from this unambiguous repudiation is that after a second round of unprecedented violence their candidate won.
Which brings us to Giles Mutsekwaâ€™s ridiculous claim last week that demonstrations were allowed in Zimbabwe. The brave women of Woza, we feel, may have another view having been clobbered regularly. They have been beaten and imprisoned so many times it is difficult to recall how many for exercising their right to expression.
Notification by conveners of gatherings or processions, Mutsekwa claimed, was not meant to be â€œsome form of application for permission from the police to proceed with the intended gathering or processionâ€.
The intention was to initiate a process of negotiations between the police and the convenors, he explained unconvincingly.
Does Mutsekwa not recall what the MDC was told when it applied to hold demonstrations last year? How many of those applications were approved?Â â€œAsk us after the election,â€ was the usual response to applicants.
Does he not recall what happened to NCA members who demonstrated in support of constitutional reform?
Mutsekwa claimed that the purpose of negotiating with the police was to ensure minimum disruption to traffic. Did the police require the conveners of the so-called one-million-man demonstration in November 2007 to consult with them on the route they proposed to take â€” through the middle of the city on a Friday lunchtime causing traffic chaos?
Have the police understood the amended provisions of Posa to mean that the applicants are simply â€œnotifyingâ€ them of their intention to gather?
How could Mutsekwa get away with such extraordinary manipulation of the record? Many readers of the article in the Herald where Mutsekwa and Kembo Mohadi claimed that only in â€œrare circumstancesâ€ would the police resort to the use of minimum force must have felt an overpowering need to laugh out loud. What use are MDC ministers when they engage in helpful camouflage of this sort?
So what was this sudden need to explain things all about? Sadc is shortly due to audit progress in the GNU. Morgan Tsvangirai may have returned from Europe and North America empty-handed, but he brought back a very large agenda on what needs to be done before Western chequebooks will open. It is that catalogue of unfulfilled promises that will be handed over to Sadc. Â
Â That includes the abuse of Posa and the public media where the only voices heard across the nation are those of Mugabe and his loyalists. Despite the anxiety of Sadc leaders to be helpful to Mugabe â€” and executive secretary Tomaz Salomao is the worst offender in this regard â€” nothing can disguise the record of obstruction and heel-dragging that has characterised fulfilment of the terms of the GPA to date.
And by the way, who slipped in the paragraph in Mugabeâ€™s meeting with the Sadc Parliamentary Forum about there being 400 British companies operating here? We cannot believe the president is that ill-informed. There havenâ€™t been 400 since 2000! And could somebody please help him with the distinction between Afrikaans and Afrikaners, or do we need to speak to the Heraldâ€™s deputy news editor about that?
Mugabe took the Sadc delegation â€œdown memory laneâ€, we were told. It was more like â€œup the garden pathâ€. Contrary to what he told them, the March poll last year certainly produced a clear winner. It was the subsequent poll that didnâ€™t.
The Heraldâ€™s Heroes Day build-up last week provided a good illustration of why the country needs alternative sources of news. Narrating the career of Willie Musarurwa, drawn from A Guide to the Heroes Acre, the paper tells us that in 1981 Musarurwa became editor of the Sunday Mail.
â€œHe was asked to leave the weekly following editorial controversies,â€ we are told.
In fact he ran a column called Gono Goto in which he was critical of Zanu PFâ€™s South African ally, the PAC. He also provided details of the unfolding Gukurahundi campaign in Matabeleland.
â€œWillie Musarurwaâ€™s name will always be remembered and linked with enquiring, responsible journalism,â€ we are told.
Indeed it will. Just a pity none of it fed through to the Herald or Sunday Mail!
Another â€œheroâ€, Chenjerai
â€œHitlerâ€ Hunzvi, â€œspearheaded the establishment of a number of income-generating projects for war veterans,â€ we are informed. These included the Zexcom Foundation, â€œan investment fund for war veteransâ€.
At least thatâ€™s what it claimed to be. In fact this outfit turned out to be very similar to the one Hunzvi accused the early settlers of setting up under Cecil Rhodesâ€™ licence to loot.
â€œFaced by a flurry of negative decisions in the courts, they argued the land was a political issue and not a legal one,â€ we are told.
So that justified violence and theft against law-abiding citizens did it?
All these thugs had to do was to declare a political motive and lawlessness became sanctified. Useful to have that on the record.
At last the National Incomes and Pricing Commission is doing something useful. It is assisting the government in policy formulation. The NIPC was set up in 2007 to monitor and fix prices following â€œunjustified price hikes by business peopleâ€, the Herald reported on Monday.
But what has happened to our friend and Zanu PF zealot Godwills Masimirembwa who played such an important role in harassing the business sector in the pricing chaos of 2007? Did the job he was obviously bidding for finally elude him? Or is he still on the gravy train?
American businessman Donald Trump, famed for US beauty pageants and reality show, The Apprentice, would be laughing uncontrollably if he witnessed the circus at Mondayâ€™s â€œpublic interviewsâ€ for would-be commissioners for the Zimbabwe Media Commission.
Twenty-seven shortlisted candidates, who included Tafataona Mahoso and Vimbai â€œEuropeanâ€ Chivaura, crossed their fingers as they hoped to be selected on
the basis of their Zanu PF allegiance.
The former Media and Information Commission chairman was not only the last to be interviewed before the lunch break but according to media reports scored the lowest marks, thanks to his long-winded answers.
Like any other applicant, Mahoso was told to answer six structured questions in 15 minutes but it seems the time allocated was not enough for the Sunday Mail columnist, not known for his editing skills. When asked to describe the relationship between the new commission and civil society, Mahoso attempted to restructure the question before mumbling how he had produced â€œthe most thorough reportâ€ on civil society.
People who led the Svosve and Nyamandlovu land seizures at the turn of the millennium, according to Mahoso, are also part of civil society.
He reminded the panel that he was not a journalist but a would-be regulator when he was asked to comment on media ethics.
The first question, typically an icebreaker in any job interview, drew a lot from the applicants. But we found Chivauraâ€™s answer to a question on the significance of the national anthem interesting. He described the Simudzai mureza anthem as a â€œsupreme poemâ€ that encapsulates our heritage.
Declaring everything â€œsupremeâ€ seems to have become the in-thing in Zanu PF after the Midlands province recently declared Mugabe the â€œsupreme leaderâ€. We wonder what inspired Chivaura to allude to such supremacy!
Mahoso was described by one MP as â€œhostile and typically arrogantâ€ during his interview. What we want to know is why Mahoso thinks he has any contribution to make to the regulation of the media after his disastrous role at the MIC putting journalists out of work?
He claimed that when he started work at the MIC â€œwe only had a desk, terms of reference and an Actâ€. He should have added â€œand a manifest biasâ€.
Now they have computers, a 4×4 and driver for Mahoso, and dozens of journalists out of work. Quite an achievement! If you go to their office between 1pm-2pm you will be told â€œwe are restingâ€.
Finally congratulations to Brigadier-General Douglas Nyikayaramba for his role in the acquittal of Gutu East MP Ramsome Makamure who was accused of abusing agricultural inputs. Magistrate William Bhila said Makamure should not have been tried in the first place as there was nothing wrong with an MP distributing inputs.
Bhila said according to the evidence given in court, Makamure had a farm and did not acquire the inputs fraudulently.
He also queried why the army was alleging that Makamure committed the offence on October 24 last year, a month before guidelines on the distribution of inputs were made on November 4.
Nyikayaramba, who led Operation Maguta in Masvingo, was described as dishonest by the magistrate who was not happy with his conduct in court.
During the trial Nyikayaramba threatened one of his subordinates, Major Mapuranga, who was also a witness, after he led evidence that absolved Makamure of any wrongdoing.
It was also discovered during the trial that Nyikayaramba only advised Zanu PF MPs on how the inputs scheme worked and left out the MDC caucus.
â€œBrigadier-General Nyikayaramba is the one who destroyed the case,â€ the magistrate said.
We recall Nyikayaramba telling us he had retired when serving on the electoral commission in 2002. He then popped up again in uniform a few weeks later!