IT had all the trappings of a state visit.
But below the surface of speeches, presidential receptions and a busy itinerary, Julius Malema’s solidarity tour was nothing more than a squalid pantomime designed to boost the sagging fortunes of the two parties involved.
Both desperately need some good publicity. Malema has been immersed in controversy for much of this year as revelations emerge of his “tenderpreneur” tendencies. Questions have been asked as to how he became so rich so quickly. And the Zimbabwe visit, designed to be a triumphal tour, ended with Malema being castigated in South Africa for inciting race hatred which, his detractors say, led to the killing of white farmers.
The murder of AWB leader Eugene Terre’Blanche last weekend was laid squarely at the door of Malema who the Afrikaner leader’s followers blame for stoking racial tensions with his “Shoot the Boer” song.
He gave us a sound-byte during his visit here which has placed President Jacob Zuma in a spot of bother.
Zuma has been trying to knock heads together in Zimbabwe. But his impartiality will have been undermined by Malema’s cavorting with Saviour Kasukuwere. It will be difficult for the South African facilitators to claim an independent stance when Malema openly identified with Zanu PF.
That will make Zuma’s job that much harder. And Zuma’s appeal for calm on the land issue in South Africa where Terre’Blanche is just the latest casualty of politically inspired violence will carry much less weight after Malema’s predictably maladroit behaviour.
We knew the Malema visit would backfire –– just like everything else Zanu PF does. Now Zimbabwe will appear more disgraced and more isolated than ever just when it is attempting to build bridges to the West. South Africa is in a position to take risks over matters such as nationalistion. Zimbabwe isn’t.
There are two saviours involved in this story and neither is the real McCoy.
As the MDC Youth League aptly pointed out, Malema’s pro-poor stance was “false struggle rhetoric”. Malema was “a false revolutionary leading a lavish lifestyle”, said MDC Youth League secretary-general Solomon Madzore, quoted in the M&G.
“If you look at him and the likes of Kasukuwere you will see that there is nothing that will identify them with the poor. I have seen Malema’s two mansions in Sandton,” he helpfully added.
At the several rallies he addressed during his stay Malema consistently praised President Mugabe and Zanu PF’s policies saying he would lobby his party to follow Zimbabwe’s land reform and indigenisation programmes which the ANC has largely eschewed.
Malema obviously did not consult the majority of Zimbabweans to get their views on Mugabe’s record on the economy and land reform.
These views were made known on March 28 2008 when the majority of Zimbabweans rejected Mugabe and his Zanu PF party for taking the country to the dogs.
Malema has not been told that previously productive commercial farms became derelict after they were occupied by Mugabe’s followers.
As for the indigenisation programme, we are glad Malema was there at Zimplats near Chegutu and Ngezi Mine in Mhondoro to witness BEE Zim-style.
He saw Zanu PF Youth League leaders Absolom Sikhosana and Mugabe’s nephew Patrick Zhuwawo holding a closed door meeting with senior officials at Ngezi Mine who were berated for having the temerity to submit their own proposals.
We were not told what they discussed but we can bet they want a stake in the lucrative mining concern and appear determined to use their political muscle to benefit from the indigenisation diktat.
It is becoming increasingly obvious the indigenisation laws were designed to empower a small clique of Zanu PF stalwarts and their hangers on.
And why did the Herald allow Kasukuwere to attack Zimplats Mine’s indigenisation proposals without telling us what the proposals were?
How professional was that?
“Indigenisation plans submitted by Zimplats are “crazy, retrogressive and unacceptable as they fall short of what is envisaged by the law,” the Herald reported Kasukuwere as saying.
Instead of telling us what the company had proposed we were only told of Kasukuwere’s anger towards the proposals submitted to his ministry.
“Zimplats’ proposal is very crazy, it is crazy,” Kasukuwere told the Herald. “I am going to meet them next week on their proposal, which is very crazy. We insist that 51% should go to indigenous people.”
Zimplats management should tell Kasukuwere where to go. Bloated fat-cats of a discredited regime need to be confronted. We do not know as yet what is “crazy” about the Zimplats’ indigenisation proposals but we know that what is certainly crazy is Kasukuwere’s call for parliament’s portfolio committee on Mines and Energy “to look at the foreign-owned mines and see how they contributed to the fiscus and the community they were serving”.
“They should go to these mines and see who owns them. They (parliamentary portfolio committee on Mines and Energy) are scared,” he said.
Nothing wrong with the committee visiting Zimplats as suggested by Kasukuwere. But why can’t the same parliamentary committee tour Chiadzwa?
Can Kasukuwere tell us why the government has made spirited efforts to thwart the committee’s attempts to tour Chiadzwa or to hold public hearings with the Chiadzwa community and residents of Mutare to get their views on the goings on in the diamond sector?
As for Kasukuwere’s demands to know how much foreign-owned companies have contributed to the fiscus, can he tell us how the country has benefited from the diamonds being extracted from Chiadzwa?
The people from Chiadzwa know who has benefited from this national resource; that is why they are not allowed to meet with the parliamentary committee on Mines and Energy.
Malema wasn’t told that every time Mugabe visits Zimplats’ Ngezi mine, he speaks highly of their social commitment. With its network of houses, roads, schools, and recreation areas it is a model for the country.
Why now is there a different tune from ministers? Could it be because they are preparing to carve up the pie?
Chris Mushohwe has let the cat out of the bag.
As mentioned above, last Thursday the governor and resident minister for Manicaland barred MPs from the portfolio committee on Mines and Energy access into the Chiadzwa diamond fields saying they “will pick up diamonds which are all over the place”.
The MPs wanted to see for themselves what is happening at the Chiadzwa diamond fields.
We curiously wait to hear Mushohwe’s response to comments made by MP for Chiredzi West, Moses Mare. Furious at Mushohwe’s actions, the MP queried: “Does this mean that each time he visits Chiadzwa he picks up diamonds?”
Mushohwe is always touring the diamond fields. Let’s hope he is not pocketing the diamonds that are “all over the place” each time he goes there. But evidence that the diamonds are being picked up and pocketed by someone is there for all to see.
Our eyebrows were raised by police reactions to a story about recommendations by the Harare City Council that Philip Chiyangwa should be arrested because of the alleged irregular manner in which he acquired land in the capital. He is threatening the City of Harare with a criminal defamation suit and digging around for evidence.
Detectives visited journalists at the Standard last week who wrote stories about the recommendations, wanting to know the source of their stories.
We find nothing unusual in the stories because they were sourced from council documents.
What we find disturbing is the exercise of Chiyangwa’s clout. Someone is frantically trying to prevent journalists from opening a can of worms, using his wealth and power to do so. This is not the new Zimbabwe we all want to see. Journalists must be allowed to get on with their public watchdog role unmolested.
Poor old Arthur Mutambara. It must be bad enough being seen as a tool of President Mugabe, then not being taken seriously as a result of eccentric behaviour. There was the notorious ABC interview where he completely lost it. And the US dinner party that went pear-shaped after a difference of opinion. There was also the swearing-in ceremony where “So help me” was separated from “God” by a pause that seemed like hours!
More recently we recall him trying to get into the picture at the swearing in of the electoral and human rights commissions. And before that, praising Mugabe to the skies despite the president’s failure to meet any of the targets Mutambara identified a year ago as essential for investor confidence. There was also a visit to some farms followed by robust criticism but zero follow-through.
Now he has been subjected to a new form of ignominy: media manipulation!
Every time Herald hacks mention the episode last year when Mutambara “had to intervene at the last minute” to get the British and French embassies to grant visas to an inter-ministerial lobby seeking the lifting of sanctions, it has to be reported as “at President Mugabe’s instruction”. So Arthur is reduced to a mere cypher. That will make his intervention less credible next time.
Mutambara is a likeable and intelligent politician –– a national rarity! But he must find a way to project himself that is neither comic nor fawning. No more funny intonations please. Seriousness of purpose and consistency of outlook are key. What for instance does he think of a society where artists are locked up for depicting Gukurahundi atrocities or forced to cancel a display of photo-journalism covering the 2008 violence because Zanu PF is in denial about its sanguinary role?
Has he been completely neutralised? And what of other members of his party? Where is the once principled voice of Paul Themba Nyathi? When did we last hear from him? Paul: Vuka! Time for an op/ed piece.
One of the main tenets of a professional press is the right of reply. That means allowing those who are subject to claims by politicians and others to have their say by way of response.
Recently President Mugabe held a meeting with the press. Mugabe commented on the absence of white journalists. His spokesman George Charamba claimed that they had been invited but chose not to attend.
That was not in fact the case. They had not been asked. Worse still, when one of those concerned, AP correspondent Angus Shaw wrote to the Sunday Mail, where Mugabe’s and Charamba’s remarks had been published, setting the record straight, the paper declined to publish his letter.
Muckraker therefore publishes the letter below. Nothing could more usefully illustrate the way in which state editors refuse to do the right thing at the behest of their political masters. This is unprofessional behaviour at its worst and is a predictable product of a captive press where editors are given their
marching orders by state functionaries.
For the record, Shaw wrote as follows:
“I would like to put the record straight regarding your report in the March 7 edition quoting Secretary for Media, Information and Publicity George Charamba on invitations to President Mugabe’s ‘Meet the Press’ briefing. It is not true that everyone was invited, as Mr Charamba contended after the president asked where were white journalists and then went on to suggest maybe we had ‘chickened out’. I was not invited and certainly would not have missed the event if I had been informed on the telephone numbers regularly used by Mr Charamba’s ministry to contact me.”
“Angus Shaw, Associated Press.”
Finally, we have heard from the Media Commission. They have woken from their long slumber and are ready to start work. And what grand project are they about to embark on? They want to hold a workshop!
Muckraker hereby offers to address the workshop and tell them their fortunes!