Muckraker: Municipal police need their wings clipped

CONGRATULATIONS to the Sunday Mail (April 11-17), for publishing a letter questioning the source of Mines minister Obert Mpofu’s wealth.

The reader was not convinced by Mpofu’s attempts to make Zimbabweans believe the source of his reported wealth is “legitimate”. The letter was headlined “Minister Mpofu unconvincing”.
It was a response to the minister’s assertions that properties he bought were through a US$1 million “bank loan”. But this account has clearly not convinced everyone.
“I could not help laughing at your article on Obert Mpofu and his alleged ‘buying spree’,” wrote one reader who identified himself only as Taurai.
“If CBZ Bank advanced one million dollars to his business for capital expenditure, in what way is buying houses for employees capital expenditure?
“If African Sun, which is in the same tourism business, were to borrow a million dollars to buy houses for staff in Victoria Falls, we the shareholders, would fire chief executive Shingi Munyeza. Does that amount to capital expenditure to you?
“How about the casino he is said to have bought which is secured by ZRP details? How come you did not ask him about that one?”
In the same issue, the paper had an opportunity to ask Mpofu about the capital expenditure and the loan but failed to seize the opportunity. In a long question and answer session with the minister, Augustine Moyo allowed Mpofu to get away with this fantastic statement: “I am a businessman in my own right and my SMALL businesses are running viably…” Come on Augustine, no small business can borrow a million bucks in this economy.  
To his credit all the same, Mpofu was able to convince John Nkomo and Thokozani Khupe that mining operations in Chiadzwa were being done satisfactorily. After touring the claim, Nkomo said: “We were highly impressed with what we saw here at Chiadzwa. If diamonds from this area are sold they will contribute a lot to our national economy and we cannot continue borrowing when we have abundant resources in the country awaiting exploitation. We think we are poor, yet we are very rich. We should find ways of exploiting all our resources and show the world that we are very rich.”
We are glad Mpofu was there to hear it for himself.

Deputy Prime Minister Khupe was full of praise for Mpofu: “There was a lot of speculation in Cabinet about what was happening at Chiadzwa and Cde Mpofu was the lonely voice concerning mining activities here. We are very grateful with what we saw and we will be good ambassadors from now onwards.”  Really, Thoko? Is that your role?
We hope Nkomo and Khupe will stand by their words after the Parliamentary Committee on Mines and Energy finishes its job on Chiadzwa. 
Still on the Chiadzwa tour, we were surprised by suggestions by Public Works minister Theresa Makone that court challenges on the ownership of the minerals should be disregarded because the country needed money from proceeds
realised from the sale of the diamonds.
“We know that there are court challenges regarding the ownership of diamonds here but they should be sold for the benefit of everyone. The money realised from the diamond sales is badly needed in our economy.” What happened to the rule of law that Makone and her MDC have been fighting for for the last decade?

Poor old Tafataona Mhoso continues to miss the point. Can he tell us which media are advocating for Chiadzwa diamonds to be given to “Australian-based Rhodesians”?
In his Sunday Mail column Mahoso wrote: “This is the exact meaning of the attacks on Mbada Diamonds and Chiadzwa which the last installment of this column dealt with last week. Better give the diamonds to Australia-based Rhodesians than allow them to fall into the sovereign hands of natives.”
So Mahoso thinks the plunder of Chiadzwa is fine as long as it is being done by “sovereign hands of natives”?

Harare Mayor Much Masunda is a likeable fellow whose industry and attention to detail are the envy of many. As a business leader and prominent lawyer, we believe that his actions and those who work under him must be beyond reproach. The conduct of municipal police officers deployed in the CBD however is fast eroding all the respect that residents had for the mayor.
The Combined Harare Residents Association say they are not amused by the “rowdy and irresponsible behaviour of the municipal police officers who are constantly harassing residents for petty issues”. This week the overzealous officers threw spikes in front of a moving commuter omnibus in a bid to stop it after the driver was accused of flouting parking by-laws.
The commuter omnibus overturned and crashed into another vehicle at the corners of Julius Nyerere and Robert Mugabe. The two municipal police officers took to their heels as the bus was overturning. About eight people were injured and there are unconfirmed reports that some died. 
That is not all; the thugs masquerading as municipal policemen have taken to jumping into mobile kombis through windows to effect “arrests”. 
CHRA says the municipal police officers are operating in an increasingly militarised fashion; a situation that has made them to become a nightmare to residents.
“It defies logic to note that the council seems to be more inclined towards unleashing violence on residents instead of exploring professional and amicable ways of disciplining offenders. Compromising the safety and lives of residents for a $20 fine for wrong parking is simply unacceptable and it is tantamount to serious human rights violations,” said CHRA.
“The tens of thousands of US dollars that are being used to employ  municipal police officers who spend most of their time chasing vendors can be actually used to build market stalls. It is of no gain to employ a huge number of municipal police officers who have no knowledge of their key result areas.”
Muckraker is keen to know from Much what the brief of the officers is. Does it include throwing spikes in front of packed kombis on crowded streets? Does it also include jumping into vehicles through windows and grabbing steering wheels of moving vehicles? Did we miss city by-laws legalising this crude behaviour? Answers at the back of a postage stamp please!
It is common cause that commuter omnibuses have become a nuisance in the CBD but the solution to the problem does not lie in spikes and stunts. We expect better planning and leadership here. How about putting up new bus termini outside the city centre? That is more respectable than spikes. If council fails to collect bins and clear litter should residents also resort to spikes.

There was some interesting piece of advice from our First Lady Grace Mugabe to Malawi’s new First Lady, Callista waMutharika.
“I would not want to tell her what to do,” she was quoted in the Herald.
“My advice to her would be that she should do what she knows is closest to her heart. She should do things her way and not to please people. She should know that people should get to understand that there are some things that she can be good at and her people should accept that there are other things that she cannot do.
“That is what I did. It is a tough job to be the First Lady but as long as she follows her heart, she will be successful and I wish her all the best.”
“Wise counsel” from Amai, as the Herald likes to call her. But we all know what our first lady is good at and what is close to her heart. The uninitiated in this area can always refer to the archives for the Hong Kong encounter with a British reporter.

At time of going to press, it was not clear if Zimbabwe’s delegation to the reengagement talks in Brussels has secured another appointment following the volcanic interference this week. This is something that cannot be blamed on the British and Americans. But the Herald still managed to slip the following into one of its stories: “A 2006 study by the EU admitted that the sanctions were imposed in a bid to influence the 2002 presidential elections won by President Mugabe.”
The only “bid to influence” the 2002 poll that we know of was the EU’s insistence that the elections be free and fair if Zimbabwe wanted to remain engaged with the EU in terms of the Cotonou agreement.
Sanctions were imposed following the expulsion of EU observer mission head Pierre Schori who committed the unpardonable offence of suggesting what all Zimbabweans already knew — that they were far from free and fair.
The current EU ambassador Xavier Marchal is leaning over backwards to secure concessions from Brussels for Zimbabwe. Yet every day we see evidence of a small clique retaining a stranglehold on the public media misleading the public on why sanctions were imposed in the first place. Their hateful and dishonest opinion pieces occupy pride of place every day in the government-owned newspapers as they seek to denigrate Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC. They don’t deserve to be indulged by EU diplomats when media reform, required by the GPA, remains an illusion. Beware of Belgians bearing gifts!

Forgotten war veteran, Endy Mhlanga, resurfaced this week telling a BBC correspondent, Dan Isaacs that land reform in Zimbabwe was a “success” story.
“As war veterans we are satisfied that the programme of land reform has succeeded,” Mhlanga told Isaacs.  “It might not be 100%, but now the land is with the people of Zimbabwe.”
But the BBC correspondent would not be misled by Mhlanga. He reported that large swathes of Mhlanga’s farm, on prime agricultural land, were now lying fallow.
“What was once a large commercial farm now produces nothing for export, and where there once were intensively irrigated fields of wheat and tobacco, rough grassland now stretches into the distance,” Isaacs reported. “One small field of maize is growing near the farmhouse, a few turkeys cluck their way around an old tennis court, and a dozen or so cattle graze at the bottom of the garden.”
Curiously Mhlanga contradicts himself when he says: “We have the ability to work on the land but we’re prevented from doing so because of a lack of funding.
“Investors aren’t forthcoming, so we aren’t able to do much with the land. For us, this is really a silent war.”
What dross Endy! What happened to all the seed and tractors doled out by the Reserve Bank? The real war we have to wage as a nation is to remove lazy farmers from the land and replace them with those prepared to grow food for the nation.

We find it difficult to believe that war veterans turned down a cash donation from “good Samaritans”.
The Manica Post tells us the alleged Nyanga bank robbery gang offered cash donations to war veterans in Rusape towards their transport to travel to Bindura for a congress called by factional leader Jabulani Sibanda.
The paper said war veterans’ leaders in the town spurned the cash offers “on suspicion the money was dirty”.
“The gang arrived at the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association complex, which houses offices, in a hired taxi. John Teramayi alias Katsande disembarked, leaving his colleagues Tafadzwa Nindi of St Faith’s area in Rusape and Bright Madani of Plot 43 Inyati area of Headlands in the car. Katsande approached the War veterans’ district chairman, Cde George Mukundu and first asked for Cde Nathaniel Garikayi Mhiripiri before laying bare his intention to bail out the association’s transport costs.
“Katsande had almost succeeded in ‘duping’ the ex-fighters into accepting and believing that the offer was genuinely out of philanthropy,” we were told.”
Zanu PF district chairman in Rusape Albert Nyakuedzwa said their party was “reputable” and hence did not accept gifts from dubious characters. The alleged robbers were subsequently “chased” from the offices of the war veterans
What we find curious in this whole saga is that the robbers’ cash ended up in the hands of senior Zanu PF officials in Rusape.
The paper made interesting disclosures when it reported Mhiripiri and his two colleagues in Zanu PF got $5 000 from the gang for providing the firearm that was allegedly used during the robbery.
Mhiripiri and his friends have since been arrested and taken to court over the issue.
Now, how can Zanu PF and war veterans claim they refused to accept the donation when their colleagues reportedly pocketed the cash.

Youth and Indigenisation minister Saviour Kasukuwere needs help; not only to craft an empowerment policy that will not ruin this economy, but to also improve his literary skills. His statement this week announcing the extension of the deadlines for companies to submit indigenisation plans exposed this.
Minister, government decided to extend and not “extent” the deadline. Kasukuwere can decide to be a bit “recklace” with the president, but at the end of it all, he must not be reckless with what remains of big business. We do not want him to be the youth who has “born the brand of unemployment”.
Was that “bore the brunt”?

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