Muckraker doesn’t want to get bogged down here in all these issues. Suffice it to say many could be dealt with on the basis of what was agreed in last year’s Global Political Agreement and in the January Sadc summit in Pretoria.
The Herald’s informants are trying to make a distinction between issues and “real issues”. The MDC-T, for one, it says, has refused to call for the lifting of sanctions and done nothing about “illegal broadcasts of hate messages into Zimbabwe from outside the country”.
Meanwhile, the MDC-T’s land-audit proposal is seen as an attempt to reverse land reform.
Zanu PF is evidently terrified of anything that would expose the greedy chefs who have acquired more than one farm for themselves. But there will be no lifting of sanctions until Zanu PF stops behaving badly. No Western country will support a rogue regime whose members help themselves to other people’s property under the guise of addressing historical anomalies.
The whole point of Sadc’s intervention was to prevent a gang of political barons in Zimbabwe from blocking reform and creating a regional crisis. Members of the gang are among the chief land grabbers and have invented the fiction that “pirate” radio stations are pumping “hate messages” into Zimbabwe.
It doesn’t say what these so-called “hate messages” are. Only that the MDC-T is supplying these stations with “false data to discredit President Mugabe and his party”.
Zanu PF doesn’t need the MDC-T to do that.
In reality these stations are simply providing the public with the facts they need to make up their own minds on what is happening in the country. In other words providing a variety of viewpoints.
The GPA is quite clear on this. Once ZBC starts offering an impartial and professional service, there will be no need for external stations. But the minister cannot bring himself to make a public statement that journalists working for these stations will not be subject to reprisals if and when they return home. Nor does he or his underlings seem able to insist on improved standards at the national broadcaster.
The South African mediators are said to be unimpressed with the mushrooming of new issues. The answer is simple. Stick with what was agreed in the first place. Or is that asking too much?
We were interested to note the Mail & Guardian’s comments on the appointment of Menzi Simelane as South African Attorney-General (National Director of Public Prosecutions). This is a “thoroughly unsuitable” appointment, the paper said, given Simelane’s role in the demise of the Scorpions, his bid to frustrate the arms deal investigations, and disastrous interference in the Jackie Selebi investigation.
The M&G referred to President Zuma’s “curious choice” of the prosecutions chief in the light of former parliamentary Speaker Frene Ginwala’s “damning findings about Simelane’s dishonesty and lack of integrity”.
Ginwala chaired an enquiry into Simelane’s predecessor Vusi Pikoli’s fitness for office following his suspension by Thabo Mbeki.
Pikoli came out of Ginwala’s inquiry unscathed, but others weren’t so lucky. The Public Service Commission had reportedly recommended that the Justice minister take disciplinary action against Simelane. But it later changed its mind and instead he was appointed to high office!
It is good to see our friends in the South African media exercising such robust vigilance over the appointment of unsuitable and partisan individuals to the top office in the prosecution service.
Ginwala slammed Simelane in her final report, calling him arrogant and condescending. She labelled his evidence before her inquiry as “contradictory and without basis in fact or in law” and blamed him for suppressing the disclosure of information, according to the M&G last week.
Constitutional expert Prof Pierre de Vos, the M&G notes, wrote in his blog that the NDPP must be a “fit and proper person” with due regard to his “experience, conscientiousness and integrity to be entrusted with the responsibilities of the office concerned”.
“Unfortunately we know from the report of the Ginwala inquiry that Simelane is not honest. Neither is he reliable, nor does he possess the necessary truthfulness and uprightness required by the (NPA) Act,” De Vos said.
When a country gets it wrong in appointing its chief law officers, we would add, it leaves the system open to manipulation and partisan interference. That in turn subverts public respect for the office which is crucial to its proper functioning. The South Africans will learn the hard way!
Simelane, by the way, went to Prince Edward School.
It was inevitable perhaps that the cowards who write for the Herald’s opinion columns should take pot shots at two genuine heroes of Zimbabwe’s struggle for democracy, Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu.
These two Woza women were honoured in a ceremony at the White House for their courage and determination in exercising their right to demonstrate against injustice and tyranny.
President Barack Obama said the women of Woza had shown that they can “undermine their oppressors’ power with their own power, that they can sap a dictator’s strength with their own”.
Then we saw in the usual places occupied by the regime’s spokesmen statements that the duo didn’t really represent the women of Zimbabwe.
“Mahlangu and Williams, like the poor women they pay to march, are black faces to the white man’s agenda,” we were told by the all-too-familiar letter-writers’ club in Munhumutapa Building and other such spooky hideouts.
This disgraceful case of sour grapes, published last Friday, seeks to denigrate two incredibly brave women who have stood up for human rights and been treated abominably by a vicious state. And if their courage inspires nothing but spitting indignation from the cowards in our midst, let them spit and rant. It simply exposes them as the sore losers they are.
The visit of the World Cup to Harare last Thursday evening provided some amusing moments for those present or watching on TV. Zanu PF turned it into a party-political rally, waking up the poor old chiefs and requiring them to attend. The First Family was also present at what was clearly seen as a soccer highlight even though Zimbabwe had not actually scored.
Many ministers also thought it would be a good idea to attend although David Coltart had difficulty getting himself noticed. Finally, in desperation, he thrust out his hand as the president walked past to make his speech. That did the trick. He even managed to exchange a couple of words as the president moved on, smiling.
Walter Mzembi certainly got noticed with his funny little joke about the Victoria Falls. He was often asked which country the Falls belonged to, he said. It was like a beautiful woman asleep, he suggested. Her backside was in Zambia and her front in Zimbabwe.
Well, this was clearly the funniest joke the president had ever heard. He threw back his head and roared uncontrollably with laughter. Grace was equally amused.
At risk of sounding prudish, Muckraker thought the joke a tad off-colour and that Mzembi was at risk telling it, especially with the first kids present. But it went down so well nobody could complain. In fact Mzembi could well find himself promoted in the next cabinet reshuffle, especially after all that praise-singing he managed to squeeze in!
We hope Happison Muchechetere was listening to the national anthem. It was totally ruined by ZTV’s poor sound control. In fact the technical side of the broadcast was a disaster. And this came after Muchechetere’s indignant claims of professionalism recently in response to criticism from the MDC-T.
Please Happison, it is now 30 years you have been getting technical help from the Germans, the Iranians and everybody else. Can’t you do a simple outside broadcast? What we need is less Zanu PF propaganda and more elementary journalism and broadcasting skills.
Last Friday the Herald carried a headline entitled “PSC to weed out parallel appointees”. It was based on a statement by PSC chairman Dr Mariyawanda Nzuwah. It was clearly aimed at the MDC-T.
Shouldn’t the heading have read “PSC to weed out partisan, unprofessional appointees”? That includes those advertising their credentials in the Herald.
There are so many of them this may take a while. One of these unprofessional appointees was telling Herald readers that “ministers, as political figureheads, had no authority to recruit their own staff”.
It hadn’t occurred to this ubiquitous spokesman that the MDC-T was only forced to cast its net wider because the existing pool of senior officials was so badly contaminated with people like him!