HomeOpinionMuckraker: Mischief galore as ZMC gets smothering embrace

Muckraker: Mischief galore as ZMC gets smothering embrace

EVERY day the Herald carries notifications from the City of Harare of “change of use” applications for suburban properties.

Often these are applications for residential premises to be converted into churches, crèches and restaurants. The purpose of the Harare City ads is to provide neighbouring property owners with an opportunity to object to the proposed change in terms of the Regional Town and Country Planning Act.
Residents may well object where the intention is to open a restaurant that will attract traffic and parking problems for neighbours or a crèche or place of assembly that is likely to be noisy.
Those seeking change of use are sometimes less than candid about intended use. For instance, a Cimas clinic and dispensary in Milton Park obtained change of use permission on the basis that it would be a quiet and unobtrusive treatment centre. In fact Cimas runs a busy dispensary on the premises with anything up to 20 vehicles parked outside. Visitors don’t hesitate to deposit their litter where they park. Residents in Mount Pleasant have objected to a medical centre being developed in a clearly residential zone. Their objections have been brushed aside as building proceeds apace.
Then there is the problem of unauthorised restaurants. These generate mountains of waste. Some proprietors pay for rubbish to be collected. Others don’t and dump it nearby.

Most of the premises where the city is advertising change of use applications are residential and clearly not designed for commercial purposes. But when residents exercise their right to object they are ignored by the Director of Urban Planning Services. This has led to changes in the character of suburbs where businesses take the law into their own hands and the city authorities disregard the unapproved changes. This costs the city revenue because rates are charged on residential scales and not business scales. It also leads to anarchy as the city loses control of the change of use process and becomes an unregulated and unattractive place to live in.
It would be useful to know how many applications the Director of Urban Planning has approved in the course of a year and how many have been turned down. It would seem that he can refuse no one!

Permanent secretary in the Media ministry George Charamba has been telling us recently how important it is for the Zimbabwe Media Commission to be independent of political pressures.
This arose because Morgan Tsvangirai said he would be summoning the ZMC to his office to tell them much the same thing –– that they should operate independently as required by the GPA and that they should get on with their business of licensing publications instead of running to the permanent secretary every five minutes.
Tsvangirai should have spoken to the Media minister and not the commission, Charamba officiously complained in the Sunday Mail.
“The PM is also misleading the nation that the Ministry of Finance has released funds to the ZMC,” Charamba admonished after Tsvangirai said the Finance minister had made funds available.
While Charamba was at pains to point out that nobody had stepped forward to fund the commission, he admitted that Nordic countries, the US and Germany had offered to help. But the problem seems to be that they are reluctant to channel funds through government.
And so they should be.
Then to illustrate the problem we had Chris Mutsvangwa joining in to reprimand Tsvangirai. The PM was being “misdirected” by “mischievous elements in his office”, Mutsvangwa suggested in the Sunday Mail article.
Let us recall the political context here. Zanu PF is having difficulty accepting the terms of the GPA and seeks to subvert the PM at every turn. It uses and abuses the state media to pursue this objective so we have the extraordinary situation where a defeated party is able to hang on to the public media to propagate its discredited message, attack the PM, and resist reform.
It is not just Tsvangirai who has a problem with this. None of us want to see a suborned media, so let’s hope the PM gets his message across.

Evidence that the Sunday Mail is a crude Zanu PF mouthpiece was provided by a story last Sunday headed “Roy Bennett in contempt of court”. It was based on an interview that Bennett had given to the Guardian. But nowhere were we told who had said that Bennett faced contempt of court charges except of course the Sunday Mail.
It looked very much as if the newspaper was bringing the charges. Which might be rather difficult given that the Guardian is published in the UK.
By the way, which of the following headings looks more ridiculous: “No Mr Prime Minister, you have gone offside”; or “Bennett just can’t”?
Can’t what? And is the Sunday Mail deciding who can and who can’t join the GNU? That’s definitely offside!
Meanwhile, has Herald columnist Alexander Kanengoni (the Herald, May 22) discovered yet what year Zambia got its independence? We would have thought such a distinguished freedom fighter would have been on top of that one (It was 1964, not ‘65)!
And Sir Alec Douglas-Home’s visit to negotiate a political settlement was November 1971. The Pearce Commission to test its acceptability arrived in early 1972.
If you have any further difficulties with dates, Alex, just give Muckraker a call. We would be delighted to help.

Constitutional Affairs minister Advocate Eric Matinenga has “lashed out” at the independent media’s “negative coverage” of the constitution-making process, we are told by the People’s Voice. He was speaking at an editors’ breakfast.
“During the Smith regime we learnt one thing,” Matinenga said. “When you write you cannot cause alarm and despondency.”
We are surprised to hear Matinenga passing on advice from the Smith regime. The obsession with “spreading alarm and despondency” surely emanates from Zanu PF’s oppressive legislation. But if Matinenga is intent upon citing such barren sources who are we to stop him?
In the same edition of the People’s Voice, reporter Radmass Mazodze describes Roy Bennett as “a former Selous Scout” whose hands are “dirty and dripping with innocent blood of the thousands of people that he together with his colleagues massacred in cold blood at Nyadzonia, Tembwe and Gonakudzingwa to name a few”. We don’t recall the raid on Gonakudzingwa!
Last Friday Bennett said his lawyers would be dealing with reporters who persist in repeating the lie that Bennett was a Selous Scout. It is quite obvious that Zanu PF’s semi-literate publications have been instructed to repeat the lie because it suits their bankrupt agenda to do so. They are not in the least bit interested in the truth.
Bennett admits to serving in the BSAP but says he was never in the Selous Scouts or any other military unit. The People’s Voice has evidently decided to ignore this statement. It instead attacks “our own local lawyers”.
“The integrity, professionalism and effort exerted by our own local lawyers on some of these dubious and national development-derailing issues are of great significance if it was diverted to denounce the Western imposed sanctions,” the newspaper suggests. “The so-called high-calibre lawyers and human rights defenders are awarded prestigious honours and praises in Western countries for defending culprits who are to face the full grip (sic) of the law and social misfits in our societal set-up.”
So, what does Matinenga make of all this, particularly the attack on the legal fraternity? He condemns the independent press for failing to live up to its billing as the
fourth estate. But will he allow the People’s Voice to get away with such unprofessional and pernicious journalism without a single word of rebuke?
It should also be noted that the Herald declined to publish a single word of Minister Webster Shamu’s remarks at the ZMC workshop about our publisher Trevor Ncube’s “discipline” in his application for a licence. They also omitted Shamu’s comments on his visit to our company’s press last November and his statement that his ministry would be the first to defend the independence of the ZMC.
Let’s hope selective reporting of this sort will soon be “a thing of the past”.

We were surprised by claims made by Rugare Gumbo, Zanu PF’s politburo secretary for information that his party believed in peaceful solutions in solving conflicts.
The Herald quoted Gumbo speaking at Palestinian “Catastrophe Day” commemorations in Harare last week where he claimed: “We, in Zanu PF, believe in peaceful solutions to conflicts and we therefore urge the people of Palestine and Israel to find a lasting solution through negotiations.”
He took the opportunity to blast the United States and its allies for the continued support of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory.
Gumbo was obviously not being honest about Zanu PF’s record.
He spoke as soldiers were reportedly beating up villagers in Makoni South in Manicaland forcing them to attend Zanu PF meetings.
Jabulani Sibanda was reported to have weighed in, forcing villagers, traditional leaders and government workers to attend Zanu PF campaign meetings in parts of Manicaland ahead of the constitutional outreach programme.
Restoration of Human Rights Zimbabwe, a human rights advocacy group, has in the meantime documented incidents of organised violence in Muzarabani.
Can Gumbo seriously tell us that these are the “peaceful” solutions Zanu PF sincerely want us to believe they embrace?
We have our own catastrophe unfolding here. We don’t need to commemorate somebody else’s.

ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema has finally seen the light. 
He now feels betrayed by certain individuals in the ANC who he was relying on when he defiantly rebuked President Jacob Zuma and publicly pronounced that the ANC was in full support of President Mugabe’s land grab and black economic empowerment drive.
The chickens are now coming home to roost.
“One of the things I have learnt is never rely on any individual who is in politics,” he told a BBC correspondent.
But Malema, despite suggesting he was not his own man, refused to admit he had done anything wrong and brushed aside measures against him. He had not yet been to the anger management classes he had been instructed by the party to attend, he said.
We hope Malema has not seen the light too late because we hear there is a revolt against him within the ANC Youth League. Below are remarks made by Inkatha Freedom Party youth brigade chairperson Pat Lebenya-Ntanzi. This was in response to Malema’s attack on the IFP.
“While we find it flattering that Malema would devote some of his time to the IFP at an ANC Youth League conference, we want to remind him that we are of the opinion that he is nothing more than an ill-bred brat with verbal diarrhoea…..”
“His behaviour is not only un-African, but crude by the standards of any culture, which makes him the only ‘factory fault’ amongst us,” Lebenya-Ntanzi said. Malema had earlier referred to “factory faults” in the ANC.
“We were hopeful that by going back to school for anger management classes, he would have been taught some manners, but his
latest attack on the IFP proves that he is incapable of changing his ways.
“Malema might not think that the IFP will ever reclaim the province of KwaZulu-Natal, but his style of politics –– based on denigration and insults –– is already yielding results for the IFP as ANC members turn their backs on him,” Lebenya-Ntanzi said.

Finally, is it true that Job
Sikhala was arrested for forming a political party without police permission, as claimed by Wurayayi Zembe? It sounds a tad improbable!

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