Muckraker: Anti-NGO comments expose Copac naivety

UNDER the heading “Bogus Copac monitors on the loose”, the Sunday Mail managed to unearth a plot by NGOs “aimed at advancing external interests”.

The NGOs are apparently “running their own parallel outreach programme”, as if that was a major offence!

The “culprits” are named as the Zimbabwe Peace Project, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network and Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, among others.
They have deployed teams, we are told, “to influence the public to agitate for the inclusion in the new constitution of provisions that would advance foreign interests”.

Needless to say we are not told what these “foreign interests” are.
Instead we have Copac co-chair Paul Mangwana saying “bogus monitors” are moving around in vehicles that belong to NGOs and were stationing themselves at outreach centres to elicit views from the public for yet unknown purposes…”
“We are calling on police to arrest these culprits,” he said.

In fact NGOs are perfectly entitled to elicit the views of the public. And Mangwana’s claim that they are “attempting to subvert a government-sanctioned programme”, as if it belonged to government and nobody else, is likely to discredit Copac if that means people can be arrested for exercising their democratic rights.

What makes these threats more sinister are the naïve remarks by co-chair Douglas Mwonzora that “some NGOs are disseminating falsehoods on the outreach programme”.

“Only Zanu PF, the MDC-T and MDC had the prerogative to monitor and comment on the outreach programme,” Mwonzora said.
Really? Is that the case? People are surely entitled to challenge and oppose the Copac project if they wish? That is their right. The suggestion that only the three parties can participate is outrageous. Many people are understandably sceptical about a process that appears to be owned by the three parties.
Anyway, don’t we recall Zanu PF running its own parallel programme as it seeks to “persuade” people that they should support the Kariba draft? And there were reports of people reading from prepared scripts without understanding a word of what they were saying. But we know what they were required to talk about: the importance of the executive presidency!

There is a danger here which Mangwana and Mwonzora evidently can’t see. If there are arrests of people exercising their right to assemble and express themselves, including the right to oppose Copac, the whole exercise in constitution-making will be damaged in the same way Farai Maguwu’s arrest has scuppered Zimbabwe’s bid to market its diamonds. Donors obviously can’t be seen to be supporting a process in which politicians threaten to have their detractors arrested?

Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena was quoted in the Sunday Mail saying “police would not hesitate to arrest all those people that were bent on discrediting the outreach programme”. All of them?

Talks between Compac and the NGOs this week have opened the way for the NGOs to partner Copac in observing the outreach programme. Let’s hope there are no more ill-judged threats

Some curious remarks from President Mugabe last weekend when he addressed church leaders at the unveiling of the tombstone of his great grandfather who died in 1918.

“We say this is our country and that the land is ours but we hear that there are some priests who say we are grabbing land,” he said.
Such church leaders should understand, he continued, that whites would never allow foreigners to control their land.

“Jews died in Germany during the Second World War because they held all the wealth,” he claimed. “About six million of them were killed.”

So what’s his point? We understand from our history books that Germany had a cruel dictator who made the Jews scapegoats for the country’s economic collapse. After the Second World War Germany adopted a democratic constitution which led to a stable and prosperous society.

Anyway, we liked the bit at the unveiling ceremony when Aeneas Chigwedere’s version of the history of the Zvimba clan was challenged by Chief Zvimba who said some of Chigwedere’s assertions were not true.

“Come to us the people of Zvimba so that we give you true information,” he said. “You must hear it from the horse’s mouth.”

Something from another horse’s mouth is not going down too well in the ranks of the nomenklatura. War veterans are complaining bitterly about their predicament 30 years after Independence.

“The post-war leadership continues to betray the values of the armed struggle by destroying unity and promoting factionalism, racism, tribalism, regionalism, nepotism, greed and corruption,” the war vets say in full-page ads in the national press.

While they condemn sanctions, they go on to say: “The leadership should stop using sanctions as the only cause for the economic collapse while the other causes are corruption, failed monetary and fiscal policies and lack of accountability.

“Government, the Reserve Bank and state enterprises are run like private businesses with ministers and the RBZ governor becoming the richest men in the country.”

This is all very useful to have seeing the state media has been pointing to divisions in the MDC-T at every opportunity.

“It’s not about compensation but how we can save the nation?” the war vets tell us.

We hope Ignatious Chombo was paying attention. He was this week busy attacking “recently introduced newspapers” who he claimed were “misquoting government officials and misleading the nation”.

“Some journalists have resorted to using propaganda and lies to market their newspapers and this is improper and unethical,” he told the People’s Voice with reference to stories on the Urban Councils Act.
We have no idea what he is talking about. But Chombo should tell us why it is ethical for a permanent secretary to hurl abuse weekly at newspapers and individuals he disagrees with?

What is ethical about Zanu PF losing an election and then retaining control of the public media to attack those that won a majority of seats? And who did the war vets have in mind when they referred to ministers becoming “the richest men in the country”?

Zanu PF ministers should tell us about the ethics of extraction instead of inventing stories about the Urban Councils Act.

The People’s Voice says we should all join hands with Zanu PF in “ensuring the equitable redistribution of wealth”.
They mean we should hang on to our wallets!

The Ministry of Trade and Industry is crafting a strategy to protect the sustainability of the coffee industry, Minister Welshman Ncube told Sunday Mail Business.

Unless there was immediate intervention with a sustainable business plan, Zimbabwe will no longer be able to produce the coffee arabica which fetches high prices on the international markets. 

Ncube disclosed that the five white coffee farmers who remain in the Eastern Highlands between them contribute 98% of the country’s production.
Zimbabwe’s output has steadily plummeted from 10 000 tonnes in 2002, to less than 2 500 tonnes in 2005, to below 300 tonnes as of April this year.

Ncube ascribed the fall in production to “operational problems” within the country’s agricultural sector.
Why doesn’t he call a spade a spade? The “operational problems” he refers to are the systematic occupation and plunder of commercial farms.
Ncube has himself, together with Arthur Mutambara, been taken on tours of occupied farms where they were able to witness the extent of the problem. But the seizures persist.

Just a few months ago this newspaper identified the case of Zimbabwe’s ambassador to Tanzania who had helped himself to a prime banana plantation. It came with a factory.

At least now we know exactly how much is left in the coffee sector so we can trace its demise.

We note RTG CEO Chipo Mutasa’s remarks that the hospitality industry has not benefited at all from the World Cup.
How much did Walter Mzembi and Karikoga Kaseke spend on those trips abroad to lure teams into setting up camp in this country?
Mzembi anticipated that 30% of the visitors to South Africa would be coming to this country during their stay down south. They didn’t materialise.
Now let’s see how many “stars” like Shakira and Akon can be lured up here by Dr Sylvester Maunganidze’s team.
Muckraker remains sceptical. Zimbabwe is seen as a rogue state that locks up NGO monitors. It’s hardly alluring.

Congratulations to Rusape councillors for showing Ignatious Chombo the red card.
We liked the bravery the councillors showed in chasing away Chombo’s boys imposed to run the affairs of the town council.

Chombo, used to throwing his weight about and bullying local authorities, got a rude awakening.  The councillors chased off the two officials seconded to assume the day-to-day running of the council.
Chombo seconded the senior assistant District Administrator for Makoni, Darlington Museka to replace Engineer Moses Chiraya as the acting town secretary, while Roy Nhiwatiwa was to assume the reins in the finance department.

But as soon as they set foot at the council premises all hell broke loose.  They beat a hasty retreat.
That is the language Chombo understands.

THE editor of Zimbabwe’s biggest selling newspaper claims an assassin is stalking him.

State-run Sunday Mail editor Brezhnev Malaba posted a message on his Facebook on Monday telling friends: “Guys, unbelievable things are happening here. A bulky man was sent to kill me, but he couldn’t locate me so he destroyed my car. I’ve been warned: MY LIFE IS IN DANGER!”

Malaba said he had received “countless” death threats on the phone before, adding: “This time it seems they want me dead. I’m not taking this lightly.”

Who are “they”, we wonder? We read about one deranged man!

Responding to questions from concerned friends (yes, he does still have a few), he added: “After conducting my investigations, I’ll publish a detailed story. There’s more to this than meets the eye.”
Another Sunday Mail plot! We can’t wait for the next instalment.

Malaba told New Zimbabwe.com he called police twice on Saturday when the alleged assassin was trashing his Mercedes.

He said: “The police response was atrocious. Twice we reported to police but they came unarmed. Shocking!”

Perhaps he now understands what besieged farmers feel like. “And this hired assassin, meanwhile, held the entire building hostage for a good two hours. In the centre of Harare!”

Malaba said he “could not be sure” who wanted him dead.
“Who knows? It could be the Warriors match-fixing story we published last week. It could be politics. Take your pick. One way or the other, there are people who are angry with me.

“They are trying to kill me. My life is in grave danger. I’m a marked man,” he squealed.
It could of course have been an aggrieved reader who simply couldn’t face another Mahoso diatribe! Or one of those puerile cartoons.

Finally, we had a good chuckle at the Herald’s Wednesday headline: “Zim diplomat in drugs, sex scandal.” Only the rock’n roll was missing. This has given a whole new meaning to Foreign Affairs!