ZANU PF clearly doesn’t have its finger on the popular pulse. Roy Bennett faced “very serious charges”, President Mugabe kept telling us ad nauseam as grounds for the MDC treasurer’s exclusion from government.
They were indeed serious charges. But now we learn the state didn’t have a case.
Emmerson Mnangagwa says the judgement is “appealable”.
Given Justice Bhunu’s remarks on the inadequacy of the state case, any such appeal would be purely vexatious.
Bennett has been the subject of vicious abuse in the pages of the state media. All sorts of lies about his involvement in the Rhodesian forces have been manufactured at Herald House, or was it Munhumutapa Building?
First it was the Selous Scouts. Then the “Rhodesian infantry” (presumably the RLI). Now it is the BSAP. Could the spin-doctors please make some attempt to get it right!
As we reported in this column in December, Mugabe cannot disguise his bewilderment that the country doesn’t share his disdain for Bennett. Any poll would show that Bennett has a huge following and the present generation simply don’t share Mugabe’s fossilised views on race.
The Zimbabwean public, which we are amusingly told are really “Zanu PF at heart”, believed in Bennett’s innocence from the outset. Now they have been proved right.
The Herald tried to work up a chorus of indignation over Nelson Chamisa’s reference to Bennett being angelic. But it didn’t wash. And the Zanu PF gang know it. You just had to see the reaction in the Herald on Tuesday. They were as mad as hell and couldn’t hide it. You know you are in trouble as a party when you have to resort to Gabriel Chaibva for comment!
The state will appeal, we are told. Zanu PF is obviously intent upon spinning this crisis out for as long as possible. Then they are surprised when the US and EU maintain sanctions.
Meanwhile, Tsvangirai has hardly been covering himself in glory these past few weeks. Firstly his claim in Dar es Salaam that Zimbabwe’s political crisis no longer exists and the country no longer poses a risk to investors was greeted with scepticism at home and abroad. On the same day he was making this daft claim, a senior ACR official was arrested and charged with the fraudulent acquisition of diamond mining claims. ACR is battling to maintain its claims in Chiadzwa in the teeth of a challenge from predators with close ties to the state. Some have no experience of mining whatsoever.
Indeed, the whole Chiadzwa saga is an advertisement for political meddling, cronyism and systematic plundering of resources. Any investor would need to think twice before sinking their money in this Augean stable.
“Hundreds of British companies are operating profitably and unmolested in Zimbabwe,” the Sunday Mail claimed in the same edition that it reported the Chiadzwa arrests!
“There are rich pickings to be enjoyed here,” the Sunday Mail said. “That is why British companies have vowed to stay put.”
Have they? And are “rich pickings” a good way to describe investment opportunities given the role of Zimbabwe’s politicians? Does anybody recall the “rich pickings” to be had in the Congo in 1998? Some of the same people who want the state to appeal against the Bennett judgement were busy there!
Tsvangirai and Jacob Zuma both now parrot the refrain that “it doesn’t make sense that some people from the same government are not able to travel to some countries at the same time because of sanctions.”
It makes every sense that those responsible for undermining democracy, subverting the press, plundering the economy and attacking political opponents are prevented from entering those countries that attach importance to democratic behaviour.
We note with interest that Morgan Tsvangirai’s motorcade is one of the issues Rugare Gumbo says the politburo won’t countenance following the recent negotiations. As a result the MDC leader will have to content himself with just a handful of vehicles. No ambulance. No military escort.
Muckraker is not sympathetic. The Harare public is heartily sick of the noisy and wasteful cavalcade that passes through the capital nearly every day. Motorists who don’t get out of the way fast enough are liable to be assaulted.
The last thing we want is another such monster in our midst. Tsvangirai should be giving an example of modesty and restraint, not dreaming up ways to look important.
We have been enjoying comparisons made in the state media between Zimbabwe and Britain when it comes to managing elections. None of the parties secured an absolute majority, we are reminded. So they will have to put up with a Zim-style coalition.
Muckraker has a few questions. How many people were killed in the British election? How many weeks did it take to get the results?
Oh, one more point. Britain’s political leaders, in forming a government, had to recognise the swing of the pendulum away from the ruling Labour Party and towards the opposition Conservatives. The new government will have to reflect what the people wanted. Our commentators didn’t seem to understand that point!
Muckraker was shocked to hear that Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede did not know that South Africa allowed dual citizenship. During a presentation to a party caucus ahead of the outreach programme, reported in the Sunday Times, Mudede advised Zanu PF MPs to ensure the party’s position reflected the stance that there should be no room for dual citizenship in the new constitution. This was the case in all Sadc states, he claimed. Rhodesians were likely to exploit the provision, he said, and it demonstrated a lack of patriotism.
It was left to Jonathan Moyo to explain to him that South Africa allowed dual citizenship and that the party should not be guided by rigid political and policy decisions which did not take account of shifting circumstances. He pointed out that in his constituency most people of working age were in South Africa and it would be unfair to deprive Zimbabweans living abroad of their rights. MPs should not drive themselves into a political laager, he argued.
Muckraker might also ask what a senior civil servant like Mudede was doing instructing Zanu PF MPs on what positions to adopt in the outreach campaign? Shouldn’t he be telling us what he has done to clean up the voters’ roll?
So, Zanu PF youths think Julius Malema should be above the law because he has publicly shown support for President Mugabe and his party’s policies on indigenisation and land “reform”.
Last week the Herald reported the youths complaining against a decision by the African National Congress to take disciplinary action against Malema for going against a court ruling barring him from singing the revolutionary song “Dubulu ibhunu (Shoot the Boer)”.
“As Zanu-PF Youth League we are dismayed by the ANC statement that they want to discipline Cde Malema for supporting and showing solidarity with Zanu PF and the people of Zimbabwe,” said Cecilia Chivhunga, the Zanu PF youth league deputy secretary for information and publicity.
Does this not tell us that the Zanu PF storm troopers think they are above the law and can trample on the rights of anyone without any recourse? This is the sort of thinking that has reduced Zimbabwe to a pariah state.
Does anybody remember Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM), the Rwanda station which broadcast from July 8, 1993 to July 31, 1994?
The station, which was controlled by the hard-line Hutu regime played a significant role during the April-July 1994 Rwandan genocide.
Widely listened to by the general population, it projected racist propaganda against Tutsis, moderate Hutus, Belgians, and the United Nations mission in Rwanda.
It is widely regarded as having played a crucial role in creating the atmosphere of charged racial and ethnic hostility that allowed the genocide to occur.
On Sunday evening ZBC-TV reminded us of how this Rwandan station operated and in the process helped fuel tension and violence.
Just as we were beginning to believe some respite and reason was coming to the media and that responsibility too was returning to our long abused public media, we were hit by one of the most irresponsible and dangerous bulletins seen in a very long time on ZTV.
President of the Commercial Farmers Union Deon Theron was portrayed as a belligerent white racist who was out to murder a new black farmer and his workers using crocodiles. The public broadcaster did not bother to give Theron an opportunity to explain himself when they charged he had “infested” dams at the farm in Beatrice, which he was refusing to vacate, with the man-eating reptiles.
What happened to the right of reply? Shouldn’t the Organ on National Healing, Reconciliation and Integration spring into action and tell those responsible at Pockets Hill to behave responsibly. These “journalists” spend their whole time bellyaching about sanctions which, judging by this appalling betrayal of professional standards, they richly deserve.
We were intrigued to note the quality of witnesses called by the state in the recent Bennett case.
Perekayi Denchard Mutsetse professed to be a computer
“Under cross examination it however turned out that he merely scraped through his “O” levels before obtaining a few relevant certificates which he was at pains to elevate to the status of diplomas,” the judgement said. He was unable to produce the relevant certificates in court.
“His evidence was to the effect that it was virtually impossible to fake e-mail documents or reverse the date and time printed thereon by the mail sever.”
“Asked under cross-examination if he was aware of any tools or software that could be used to track and verify the authenticity of e-mails, he said there was no such software… “As you print, the website tells you where the e-mail is from,” was his response.
“The depth of his ignorance concerning these matters as exposed during cross-examination was amazing to say the least,” the judgement said.
“He had never heard of computer fraudsters called hackers or computer forensic experts.”
“There are no such people like forensic personnel,” he said.
Asked whether he was aware of software called EnCase, he replied:
“Where did that originate from? Like I said, we are not in the forensic department and we do not know about that and as far as I know we do not have such software in Zimbabwe.”
He was also unaware of another software tool called FTK.
“I am not into forensic,” was the standard reply.
“It is needless to say that Mr Mutsetse was an appalling witness,” the judgement said. “He was argumentative and arrogant in the witness stand. When he could not stand the heat he asked to be excused saying that he had some business to attend to in Mozambique. The court refused to let him off the hook pointing out that every other witness had some business to attend to. The witness did not take kindly to that ruling and when eventually excused after exhausting his evidence, he had a parting shot for the court when he retorted: ‘Thank you my lord for wasting my time.’”
“The court chose to turn a deaf ear to his contemptuous behaviour seeing that he had been badly bruised and traumatised under cross-examination.” And this was one of the state’s star witnesses!
We were amazed by submissions made by lawyers representing senior Zanu PF official in Rusape, Nathaniel Mhiripiri, while seeking to have him released on bail.
He was arrested in connection with the ZB Bank Nyanga armed robbery. His lawyer, Edmore Chatambudza, said Mhiripiri was a suitable candidate for bail because he holds an important position in Zanu PF. Because of that he would not abscond if granted bail.
“The applicant has an adventurous history which will make his chances of absconding minimal,” the lawyer said in the
“Besides being a farmer and businessman, he is a prominent political figure in Manicaland. His political career dates back to the days of the armed struggle in which he actively participated,” read the application. “Since 1980 he has served his political party Zanu PF and is currently a member of the National Consultative Assembly.”
This is evidently a reflection of the official thinking that the law should be applied selectively when it comes to Zanu PF activists.
Finally, a couple of snippets. When it looked as if the Labour party and Lib Dems might form a government in the UK, Sir Malcolm Rifkind denounced the scheme as Zimbabwean.
“The idea that the two parties
that suffered most in this election, that were rejected by the electorate, that in the case of the Labour party lost a hundred of its seats, should put together an illegitimate government, this is the Robert Mugabe school of politics,” said the Conservative MP and former Foreign Secretary.
We were interested to note the president’s claim at the WEF in Tanzania that “for over a century the British ruled our country and siphoned its resources…”
Where does he get “over a century” from? 1890-1980 is 90 years. Somebody on his staff can’t count.
As for his statement that “we are only asking for a fair share”, don’t we recall him saying the same thing about land?