Muckraker: SA World Cup success will not rub off on Zim

‘Africa stands tall,” the Herald proclaimed as the curtain came down on the World Cup.

The conduct of the tournament would change the way sceptics saw the continent, we were told.
“South Africa put up a largely incident-free four-week show that should make those who think of Africa in terms of disease, poverty and war to pause and reconsider.”

It is not too difficult to deal with this sort of sunshine journalism. South Africa has vast resources. It also has construction companies and event planners which can manage something on this scale.

We recall President Mugabe promising voters over 20 years ago that government would build a rail-link from the city centre to Chitungwiza. What happened to that project?
Then there is the emblematic chaos at Beitbridge which persists to this day.

And have “disease, poverty and war” really been banished from our continent? Why does the Herald think there are thousands of Somalis heading south?

No, the World Cup was a South African achievement precisely because South Africa hasn’t descended into the condition that characterises the rest of the continent. Which other countries could have put on such a huge and complex show? Nigeria? The Central African Republic? The DRC? Please let’s get real. We appreciate the Herald’s attempt to have a little of the World Cup magic rub off on Zimbabwe. But what did we achieve in terms of preparing for this extravaganza? Zimbabwe couldn’t even organise a border post!

One incident stands out from an otherwise fairly flawless exercise in South Africa. The brand new King Shaka international airport near Durban came to a grinding halt on July 7 when private jets were given right of way so their VIP passengers could attend the Spain, Germany match. These included Paris Hilton and the Queen of Spain reports suggest. Pilots of scheduled flights were made to circle for hours while others were held in Johannesburg and only cleared for take-off after the match had concluded. You can imagine what fans caught up in that aerial traffic jam thought of South African efficiency!

We welcome criticism at Alpha Media Holdings because newspapers can only function usefully in the context of criticism and dialogue from their readers. But that criticism loses some of its value if it’s less than fair.

Under the heading, “NewsDay struggles to catch up”, the Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe published a report claiming that the new daily was not doing sufficient to match the Herald in terms of “disasters and accidents, sport, business, local government activity, service delivery, human interest stories, entertainment, and civil and criminal court cases”.

They cited in particular a bus disaster along the Harare/Bulawayo road, reported on Monday, July 5, which they felt “exposed sharp differences in the news values of the two papers”.

NewsDay didn’t give sufficient coverage to the disaster, we were told. Our story on a US terrorist list did not “deserve lead status” given the already frosty relations with Washington.

That may indeed be the case. But why do the MMPZ monitors wax indignant over a tragic but sadly increasingly common occurrence on our roads?

And does the MMPZ feel that a newspaper that has been on the market for only five weeks should have “caught up” with a newspaper that is 110 years old and enjoys vast resources?

What most people are pointing out is how far the Herald has come in changing its lead stories to anticipate the challenge from NewsDay. And the vitriol heaped on the paper every week by a presidential spokesman would tend to suggest we must be getting something right!

However, having said that, we welcome broadsides from whatever side of the political spectrum. They are part of a healthy media climate. And we do appreciate that MMPZ needs to demonstrate to its sponsors that it is being even-handed in its weekly review.

On the subject of being fair, Muckraker a few weeks ago attacked City of Harare officials for giving the green light to the construction of a medical centre in Mount Pleasant. This was part of a pattern, we said, in which the Director of Urban Planning appeared unable to say no to such intrusions.

Well apparently city officials did say no to the development. They agreed with residents that it was inappropriate for the area. But councillors resolved to allow the project to go ahead.
It would be useful to know which councillors over-ruled their officials and what role the mayor played in permitting this travesty of local governance to proceed.

We liked the caption in the Herald about the presidential scholarship beneficiaries getting “final words of advice” from the programme’s executive director, Christopher Mushohwe prior to their departure for South Africa.

What final words might these have been? How to get a degree by contacting the vice-chancellor if your marks prove insufficient? Then how to sue the press when they expose this chicanery? And can some of the enthusiastic young students expect a visit from elderly Zimbabwean predators during their stay?

Somebody called Tendai Midzi stood in on Saturday for Nathaniel Manheru who was probably in South Africa with the president watching the soccer. But the language was the same (minus the Shakespearean flourishes). Midzi, under the heading “Kimberley Process: The new colonial project”, took a pot shot at the Zimbabwe Independent, the Standard, and “other Western policy praise-singing newspapers”.

He also referred to “pirate radio stations who masquerade as mainstream news organisations”.

“They are filled,” Midzi rattled on, “with half-baked analysts and people who claim to be journalists when they are mere mindless activists with no understanding of what is happening on the ground in Zimbabwe or have the level of sophistication necessary to understand the underhand tactics of the Western world.”
He evidently has such sophistication because, we are told, he is a lecturer in economics at the London Metropolitan University. His article first appeared on talkzimbabwe.com.

The question obviously arises, why is the London Metropolitan University indulging half-baked Zanu PF apologists of this sort to disseminate messages of hate in a country they purport to despise? Why are they not teaching at one of the many tertiary institutions here?

Dr John Setamu and Archbishop Desmond Tutu are referred to by Midzi in dismissive terms as appeasing the West. They are given human rights awards and research fellowships to silence them, we are told.
“Meanwhile, all our resources will be plundered and we will be made to hate our own people,” Midzi claims. “We will be made to tell the story, the lie, ourselves. See how many anti-Zimbabwe websites there are today.”

Is this really the sort of puerile rubbish students at the London Metropolitan University are being taught?
Muckraker called the London Metropolitan University. They said they had never heard of Tendai Midzi. He certainly didn’t teach in the Economics department, they said.

And what was Ignatious Chombo saying about media ethics a couple of weeks ago? That much-loved state-media word “falsehood” comes to mind!

The president of the International Diamond Manufacturers, Moti Ganz, is living on another planet.

Ganz told delegates at the 34th World Diamond Congress in Moscow that the diamond world should respect a report by the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme monitor, Abbey Chikane.

He suggested the diamonds deserved KP certification because two “serious” companies were now operating in Chiadzwa.

“Let’s look at what is happening in Zimbabwe,” he said. “The claim is that there was, or is illegal mining there, that the local population is being abused and that atrocities are being perpetrated while the government gains wealth. Now two serious companies have come and established serious mines that meet all the stringent international standards regarding alluvial mining. They created jobs for local residents, provided them with good working conditions and paid — and are still paying — reasonable wages,” he said.

Ganz has obviously not been told of Chikane’s role in the arrest of resources monitor, Farai Maguwu. He also seems unaware that the two mining companies’ credentials in the industry are dubious and that ACR has been treated appallingly.

Can someone tell Ganz that villagers in Chiadzwa are complaining they have not seen the benefits accruing from the diamonds?

Is Ganz aware Chris Mushohwe makes sure anyone employed by the mining companies is a war veteran or supporter of Zanu PF?

Anyone seen to be a supporter of any other political party is subject to summary dismissal. The health of villagers from Chiadzwa and surrounding areas is at risk because the companies are dumping toxic waste into Odzi River, a major source of water for domestic use and livestock.

As Ganz was addressing the Russian gathering, reports on the wires said four soldiers had fatally assaulted an illegal diamond miner in Chiadzwa.

Please Mr Ganz, stop misleading the world on matters that you clearly know little about.

Finally, President Mugabe’s speech-writers need to note the correct spelling of Kimberley seeing as we are going to be hearing a lot more about it in the weeks and months ahead!