Muckraker:Mugabe sticking to stale old mantras

WE were intrigued by the president’s remarks in an interview with the People’s Voice. He said while Zanu PF’s enemies were the imperialists –– the British and Americans, for the MDC-T the enemies were Zanu PF and the people of Zimbabwe.

Isn’t that the same people who rejected Mugabe and his party in the 2008 election? Why didn’t the People’s Voice reporter ask him about that discrepancy? And what is remarkable is that the stale old blandishments that lost Mugabe the last poll are being resuscitated for use in the next one.

You would have thought Mugabe’s advisors would have devised new positions for the party given the refusal of the people to swallow Zanu PF’s previous claims.

In fact it could be argued that the people, having judged Zanu PF’s threadbare claims, decided the “imperialists” would do a better job feeding them and helping to rebuild the economy.
Mugabe has yet to understand voters’ priorities which don’t include empty fist-waving.
How can he claim Zanu PF wants to “defend the people’s sovereignty” when his policies consign the same people to penury?

Here is another example of a partisan press not asking a single challenging question while the president makes all sorts of disingenuous claims.

What use is a newspaper that doesn’t ask the questions?

Meanwhile, the People’s Voice should ask how the people can “determine their own future” when they get beaten or even killed for supporting the MDC-T.

And then we had Rugare Gumbo proclaiming the EU would not be allowed to fund the constitution-making exercise.

Why not when they are providing agricultural support? If they can feed us why  can’t they provide expertise in constitution-making? But Gumbo should not worry. Constitution-making is underway. And the land audit will soon be operational so all those owning more than one farm will be exposed.

And what is the Zimbabwe delegation doing in Brussels if not seeking funds for GPA projects?

It is a bit baffling that Zanu PF is sabotaging its Brussels mission by allowing those opposed to reform to speak for the country.

Mary Robinson, former UN High Commissioner for Refugees and former Irish president, was in Zimbabwe last week and met President Mugabe at his Munhumutapa offices in Harare.

The Herald reported Robinson lauded Mugabe “for his efforts to improve women’s status in Zimbabwe”.
“The president emphasised that women now have the benefit of a strong platform, the inclusive platform and that women’s voices right across the board are understood,” Robinson said.
Thanks to the Sunday Times we were we able to have an insight into how Mugabe’s trusted lieutenants treat women.

Marian Chombo, the estranged wife of Ignatius Chombo, has appealed to Mugabe to help her salvage something from the minister’s vast estate.

“Marian (50) says her husband (58) has been harassing her, confining her to the house and at one time getting her ‘locked up’ by the police for ‘trying to steal fuel’,” the Sunday Times reported.

She now wants President Mugabe to intervene as “a father” and “a leader” so she can escape her “miseries”.

Let’s hear what Robinson says about Chombo’s treatment of Marian. We hope next time Robinson will also ask Woza about the treatment of women under Mugabe’s regime.

Nigerian football authorities are fuming about the low standards of the hotel where their senior national football team will camp during the World Cup.

They want to meet Fifa officials in an attempt to dump a KwaZulu-Natal hotel contracted to serve as their team’s base camp during the World Cup football showcase which kicks off next month.

 

Nigerian Sports Minister, Ibrahim Bio and Super Eagles coach, Lars Lagerback flew into Durban last Wednesday after a media storm in Nigeria over the suitability of the three-star Hampshire Hotel in Ballito.
“I am concerned about the noise. I am very unsure of the security of this place. It’s important that our boys are secure,” Bio said.

Are these the same guys who allowed Zimbabwe’s Confederation Cup representatives, Caps United, to be booked  into a down town two-star hotel, the BB Hotel in Warri, two weeks ago?
Apart from being close to noisy seedy beer halls and crowded markets, power cuts are a regular occurrence in the area.

The inhospitable conditions Caps United players and officials endured included sleeping on the floor at the domestic airport for more than two hours while waiting for Nigerian football authorities to welcome them.

Winston Churchill, Britain’s World War Two leader, once said that the civility of a country is measured by the way it looks after its prisoners.

We got insight on how we have been looking after our prisoners from the Zimbabwe Prison Services Deputy Commissioner for Human Resources, Vincent Ndhlovu.

They have been starving all these years. Now an idea to keep them well nourished while they serve time has suddenly been found.

“Ndhlovu said the prisons have realised that prisoners can work for themselves rather than starve while sitting behind bars, so they are teaching them to farm which will help them even in their lives after completing their sentences,” the Herald reported on Monday.

This, he said, to our amazement, will help turn around the economy.

“He boasted that ZPS would never complain of hunger again neither would there be any stories of starving prisoners in Zimbabwe,” reported the Herald, without questioning why such an initiative took so long when prisoners were dying of hunger on a daily basis.

The Herald gave us a good demonstration of how the state media fails the reading public when it reported Media minister Webster Shamu’s address on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day on Monday.

We have no quarrel with the address which appeared helpful to the media. But the Herald’s report terminated with the conclusion of the minister’s remarks. The paper declined to report the speech of UN Secretary-General Ban ki Moon or the Unesco representative at the Rainbow Towers ceremony. It also omitted to report the remarks of the ZUJ Secretary-General and other journalists.

This was, among other things, a betrayal of the profession. It was an illustration of why a captive media cannot be trusted to provide the public with accurate news. So they remain uninformed.

In this case they were not allowed to hear what the UN Secretary-General had to say about freedom of the press and its importance to democratic governance. That is a deliberate policy by those managing the public media to keep the public in the dark. Which of course represents an egregious disservice to the public it is supposed to serve.

And is it true that the Broadcasting Authority is in place, as the minister said in his speech? We thought the president was asked about that at his meet the press briefing in March and said if it was the case that the authority was improperly constituted, then it needed to be put right.

As it is Tafataona Mahoso currently heads the authority and is also CEO of the ZMC secretariat. This anomaly obviously can’t be allowed to persist although, it must be said, Mahoso seems a lot friendlier than he used to be!

It was good to see our old friend and colleague Bill Saidi speaking at a World Press Freedom Day ceremony hosted by the US embassy Public Affairs section on Monday evening at Gallery Delta. He kept the large audience entertained with his anecdotes of an earlier era in journalism.

But Bill is in urgent need of an editor. However entertaining, his speech lasted about 20 minutes longer than it needed to. Messages passed to him by the organisers were ignored as he fulfilled a golden opportunity to tell a captive audience the story of his life which included walk-on roles for Harold Macmillan and Richard Nixon.

Next time Bill should tell us how life at the Herald today contrasts with 25 years ago when the editor locked him in an office and threw away the key! Anyway, it was good to see him back in the trenches, defending the freedoms he has done so much to uphold at the many papers he has been fired from! 

There were scenes of pandemonium when snacks were served both before and after the speeches at Gallery Delta. The French caterer, doing a good impression of Basil Fawlty, had great difficulty keeping the hungry hordes away from the food table until the starter’s flag went down. His was an unenviable task. No sooner had he chased off marauders at one end of the table than another gang appeared at the other end.

Eventually American peace-keepers had to intervene and persuade the increasingly volatile chef that it might be a good idea, if he valued his life, to let the hungry hacks get at the food.

It must be said, the resulting melée was not an edifying sight. The collective noun would be a “flock” of Gannets! But in this case vultures might be more appropriate. But at least all were happily fed and “watered”, courtesy of Uncle Sam and Misa, and the standard of the snacks was outstanding.

Among those attending the event was Deputy Media minister Jameson Timba who demonstrated why he is regarded as the most erudite and accomplished public speaker in the country. We should add “honest” to that.
Speaking on the setting up of the Zimbabwe Media Commission he said that “collectively as a government we have failed the nation. The delay in establishing the ZMC was inexcusable and government should acknowledge that.”
He went on to admit that government mistakenly regarded press freedom as a gift to the people. “It is our responsibility as government to ensure that it exists,” he said, pointing out that it was in government’s interest as well as the people’s to have a free press.
That should be spelt out in bold letters.
All in all, it was a great Press Freedom Day. Just a pity the public media, whose reporters were present, were not allowed to report what was said.

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