HomeOpinionMuckraker: Duplicitous Zanu PF Plays Indignation Card

Muckraker: Duplicitous Zanu PF Plays Indignation Card

WE were delighted to hear of the “absolute anger and frustration” of the Zanu PF politburo over the “non-placard disposition of the MDC regarding outstanding issues”.

This information comes to us courtesy of George Charamba who has evidently reverted to his old job as party spokesman.


Key among the politburo’s concerns, we are told, are the MDC formations’ “inaction over Western-imposed sanctions and the beaming of anti-Zimbabwe messages by pirate radio stations”.

Did Zanu PF really think it could get away with farm seizures and vexatious prosecution of MPs while expecting the MDC to get it off the international hook? And what “anti-Zimbabwe messages”? Holding Zanu PF accountable for ongoing misrule?

As Nelson Chamisa rather nicely put it last weekend: “Sanctions are a matter between Zanu PF and those who imposed them…Zanu PF should be grateful that they are in power despite the fact that they were rejected by the people in March last year.”

As for the so-called “pirate” radio stations, why doesn’t ZBC fulfil its role as a professional public broadcaster instead of spewing partisan venom every night, not to mention boring viewers to tears? People would not then be obliged to pursue their profession in exile.

But we can see where all this is going. The politburo’s contrived indignation is clearly designed to outflank MDC complaints about outstanding issues ahead of President Jacob Zuma’s visit and the Kinshasa Sadc meeting.

This tactic dates back to 2007 when government produced “dossiers” containing all sorts of invented charges against the MDC which were presented to sceptical heads of state in Dar es Salaam as “evidence” of MDC “terrorism”.

Zanu PF is now behaving as if it has genuine grievances. And the MDC formations’ grievances are being made to disappear.

Did we miss something? Was Roy Bennett appointed? Were the MDC principals consulted over Tomana and Gono as per the July 2008 MoU?

Was freedom of the media implemented as per the GPA?

Zanu PF is in denial and nobody buys their silly stories any more.

A good example of the unprofessional and partisan way in which Zanu PF is managing the media was evident on Sunday in the Sunday Mail’s report on the Daily News. The story quickly became a weapon to bash the Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe which, we were told, is “being accused of trying to infiltrate the Zimbabwe Media Council”.

Accused by whom? The Sunday Mail?

The paper injected into the story its gratuitous views on many of the individuals who are members of the council. For instance, Justice George Smith was described as “a retired judge who also served in Ian Smith’s government”.

He also served in Robert Mugabe’s government. In the cabinet office if we remember correctly. And Mugabe recently praised his record. Why wasn’t that mentioned?

Irene Petras was listed as a member but her name was misspelt. So was Father Oskar Wermter’s. Geoff Feltoe was described as “a consultant for Western-sponsored media lobbyists”. Both of Cris Chinaka’s names were misspelt. His employer, Reuters, was a British news agency, we had to be reminded.

Angus Shaw was listed as a “stringer” for AP. Chris Mhike is described as an “activist lawyer”. Bornwell Chakaodza was described as “an opposition activist”. Iden “Witherell”, we were told, would be replacing “Jorum” Nyathi on the council.

In fact Davison Maruziva will be replacing Nyathi. A quick phone call could have established that.

The purpose of this heavily manipulated and tendentious roll-call soon became evident. A “media lecturer at the Midlands State University” was pressed into service to ask: “Who are all these whites in the council?

What we are seeing is a worrisome misgovernance of the media through racially skewed institution-making. Zimbabwe in 2009 and you have this all-white and all-Rhodesian outfit. God bless the country’s media.”

We think he meant “God save”! But it was useful to have this racist hate speech on the record the next time we are told the media has been “reformed”. And Fr Wermter will be intrigued to know he is Rhodesian! Quite how that happened we are not sure. We always thought he was German. And Chinaka, Chakaodza, Edna Machirori, Bishop Sebastian Bakare, and Raphael Khumalo have been classified as white for the purposes of the Sunday Mail’s hatchet job!

Every year the MSU begs the independent press to take their students on attachment. Next time we will ask them first to disclose the names of Zanu PF parrots on the media department staff masquerading as lecturers.

The MSU media department by the way advertises its membership of the state-run Zimbabwe Association of Editors.

Perhaps one of them could explain what a “click” is? An “MDC click” had emerged, we were told last Sunday, “which is believed to be angling to turn the country’s national healing process into a retributive pursuit”.

Surely not. Giving them a taste of their own medicine? What a shocking thought. Now they are squealing like a stuck pig as the day of reckoning nears.

Michael Holman is a name familiar to seasoned journalists. He was a student activist in the mid-1960s and was restricted to his parents’ Midlands farm under provisions of the Law and Order (Maintenance) Act.

Upon his release he pursued a career in journalism working in Zimbabwe, South Africa and the UK on the staff of the Financial Times, ending up as Africa editor. His work was always highly regarded.  But sadly, he now appears to have lost his way.

In an article published by Baffour Ankomah’s New African, suggesting he couldn’t find a home for it elsewhere, Holman declared Robert Mugabe the winner in his campaign to retain power. Mugabe had won “the battle for Zimbabwe”, Holman declared, saying it was time Western governments swallowed their pride and admitted defeat so they could “do business” with Mugabe and thus save his people from starvation.

He had outwitted his enemies, defied democracy and retained the presidency, Holman wrote. Now the West should supply medicines for clinics and equipment for hospitals, he suggested — exactly what they are in fact doing!

They should also supply inputs for Zimbabwe’s farmers, he said.

Then came the bizarre proposal to address the land issue by creating an agricultural scheme in Mozambique with the money Britain had pledged to land reform. Donors should set up a land bank to provide capital and guarantees for Zimbabwe’s exiled or jobless commercial farmers, he said.

This is in many ways an admission of defeat. But not one Zimbabweans will share. Holman appears to have jetted in from another planet. Yes, Mugabe holds the nation in thrall. But is that “victory” when by Holman’s own admission the country is a disaster area?

Why should Zimbabweans surrender now when they have won democratic elections and exposed to the world the face of the beast they are up against? And why should they forego competent and stable economic management which at last seems tangible but will never survive an extension of Mugabe’s reign.

Despite his credentials in financial journalism, Holman skips that point.

And why should Zimbabweans ask their friends abroad to indulge Mugabe after what he has done to them? Holman admits the country has paid a high price for Mugabe’s victory: “An economy ruined, human rights abused, a generation without jobs, opponents tortured, and many thousands perished…”

And he expects Western donors to cough up the cash — when the Chinese and Russians won’t?

He misses the point: It is not pique that prevents Britain and the US from doing business with Mugabe. It is the British and US public who would never allow their governments to do a deal with Mugabe. That’s the trouble with democratic societies. They get in the way of deals of this sort.

Michael Holman will be remembered for his integrity and truth in the past. But his New African venture has sadly yielded little insight.

While on the subject of deals with Mugabe, we were pleased to see ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe’s remarks recently, reported in the M&G. He said the ANC was unhappy that the process of change in Zimbabwe was not moving fast enough. But he added that the ANC was now more open and vocal in its disagreements with Zimbabwe’s leaders.

“We think that is comradely,” he said.

Finally, we were amused that the Herald could publish a glowing review of Ronald Suresh Roberts’ biography of Thabo Mbeki, Fit to Govern, the Native Intelligence of Thabo Mbeki, when the book has been panned by critics in South Africa. Roberts took some of his critics to court and lost.

He has subsequently become something of a joke in the South African media. His book was published over two years ago.

What is striking is that the reviewer appeared blissfully ignorant of all this! And he made no reference to Mark Gevisser’s biography of Mbeki, published last year, which provides far more detail and insight, including on the Zimbabwe dimension.

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