This in turn reminded us of an obituary of General Peter Walls who was deported from the country by the Mugabe regime in its early days of power following alleged complicity in a plot against the new government.
The obit pointed out that Walls was so reduced in circumstances in his last days, occupying a smallholding in the Cape, that his wife had to take up caring for the elderly in the UK in order for them to make ends meet.
The obit writer compared the fate of Walls to the wealth of Zimbabwe’s current generals who own farms and properties which they have acquired as a result of their political connections.
One of those who did well because of his connections was buried at his rural home over the weekend. While we will not speak ill of the dead, we need to remind ourselves of those who abused the War Victims Compensation Fund to get rich quick.
Then there were those who dodged prosecution by joining the Zimbabwe High Commission staff in Canada.
Some of us recall the story of a diplomat there who savagely beat his daughter and, despite claiming diplomatic privilege, was booted out of the country.
This all comes to mind because Grace Mugabe was quoted as saying her brother, Reward Marufu, deserved to be declared a national hero, while General Constantine Chiwenga described Marufu as “a gallant soldier who respected the core values that define our motherland”.
Indeed, he reminded us exactly what those values are. for many in the ruling elite. Marufu was in 1997 arraigned before the Chidyausiku Commission to testify in response to charges that he defrauded the War Victims Compensation Fund. In his recommendations to the state to charge Marufu for fraud, Chidyausiku said the president’s brother-in-law had used false documents to apply for compensation.
He was promptly posted to Canada as a diplomat.
Back in Zimbabwe in 2002 he seized Leopard’s Vlei, a large-scale commercial farm near Glendale, north of Harare, according to a local website.
The writer of the Herald’s Nathaniel Manheru column evidently has little time for the custom of not speaking ill of the dead. He had this to say in reference to Gibson Sibanda last weekend.
Describing the MDC as a “quisling party”, he said the role the MDC had played since 1999 “was and remains ignoble and treacherous”.
“It is a role that saw the MDC, led by Sibanda and Tsvangirai, fighting the return of the land, taking money from sponsors of Rhodesia which resisted and killed those lying at Heroes Acre.”
Sibanda didn’t try and take money from the War Victims Compensation Fund. He didn’t beat his children. He didn’t seize farms. He served the cause of liberation, like Joshua Nkomo, in the railway trade unions which were the foundation of the nationalist struggle.
What contribution to the liberation of this country did Manheru make? Marufu, and Hitler Hunzvi who signed Marufu’s disability form, are good examples of the “heroes” Manheru obviously admires.
We liked the Herald heading “President Scoffs at land appeals”.
Doesn’t he scoff at most things including respect for the rule of law?
Shouldn’t he, with regard to the Sadc Tribunal, be following the advice of his Namibian colleagues by demonstrating that Zimbabwe is a country that allows its citizens to appeal for justice through the courts? Why should he be the only person to have rights?
Let’s remind ourselves of what Hage Geingob had to say on the issue of the tribunal:
“When the ruling was made from here about the farmers people were saying ‘the Windhoek ruling’ as if Windhoek owns the Sadc Tribunal.
“The court is your court that is based here,” he told Sadc leaders.
“We signed the Sadc Treaty. Zimbabwe signed, and if you sign there are obligations that come with signing and we will say this to Zimbabwe, but diplomatically of course.”
So, it seems, Zimbabwe’s stance did not go unchallenged. Are Manheru and Tafataona Mahoso aware of this?
Mugabe has also been “scoffing” at advocates of gay rights. He took the visit of the wholly unknown Anglican Bishop Walter Roberto Crespo from Ecuador, to denounce homosexuality as “dirt” and “filth”. President Mugabe was “revered” in Ecuador we were told. We wonder how many Ecuadorians have actually heard of him?
Present at this celebration of mutual bigotry was none other than “Archbishop” Nolbert Kunonga, Zanu PF’s Anglican agent.
The president’s remarks contrast with those of Rwanda’s foreign minister. She said that her government will not enact laws which discriminate against gay people.
Muckraker noted a few weeks ago that Rwanda had joined the Commonwealth and speculated what the government in Kigali might do to annoy the hell out of Mugabe.
Now we know.
Speaking on August 4 in London, Rwandan foreign minister Louise Mushikiwabo said that “acceptance and tolerance” were among the basic principles of the government following the 1994 genocide in which about 800 000 people were killed within a few weeks.
“It is not for our government to decide on matters of sexual preference,” Mushikiwabo said in answer to a question from ENInews. “Gays and lesbians in Rwanda are citizens like anybody else. It is the official position. We are on the record as a government that will not discriminate against anybody for their sexual preference.”
Bishop Richard Holloway, the former leader of the Scottish Episcopal (Anglican) Church, who has publicly supported religious and political rights for gay people, told ENInews the statement is “good news”.
“Whole societies, as well as religions, can so easily be taken over” by extremists, said Holloway.
Britain, we read, has raised four billion dollars for its Pakistan relief fund. This is a noble project given the floods that have inundated the country causing widespread misery as crops and livestock are destroyed.
But has anybody pointed out that the Pakistan government is unable to assist its own people because huge sums have been spent on the country’s nuclear programme?
Nowhere has this been said. Nor has the salient point been made that Pakistan’s population at Independence from Britain in 1947 was 34 million. Today it is 175 million.
The big issue of this century will be that of people vs resources, not Zanu PF vs the MDC!
Only seven weeks ago South Africans were celebrating their successful hosting of the World Cup. In particular they were pointing to their national example of harmony. Now just a few weeks later they are engulfed in division and strife. Newspapers and TV stations have reported nurses and doctors being violently evicted from operating theatres while volunteers, saving the lives of new-born babies, have been assaulted by striking workers.
It is not a pretty picture. And newspapers who were only recently congratulating their country on a great achievement have been humbled.
We don’t take pleasure –– schadenfreude is the word — in any of this. But it does underline the need for media workers to be sceptical of messages they are sold, especially when they involve rose-tinted spectacles! Meanwhile if South Africa is to avoid Zimbabwe’s fate on the media front, the ANC’s attempts to obscure its career in corruption by introducting a statutory media appeals tribunal and Protection of Information Bill need to be contested on all fronts.
Cosatu general secretary Zwelenzima Vavi warned South Africans that: “We are heading in the direction of a full-blown predator state in which a powerful, corrupt and demagogic elite of political hyenas increasingly controls the state as a vehicle for accumulation.”
In Zimbabwe, elements in the transitional government are actively blocking attempts to promote media freedom in the country, ensuring that Zimbabweans are “overfed on government propaganda”, a report by Gender-Links, published today says.
Describing the country’s media landscape as a “wasteland”, the report, Taking Stock: Southern Africa Media Progress Study (Zimbabwe), said the publicly-funded media was not fulfilling its mandate because of political interference.
“Zimbabweans remain overfed on government propaganda,” the report says.
“The country’s media wasteland is further demonstrated by the fact that though Zimbabwe’s constitution guarantees all citizens the right to freedom of expression and information the public media is still shackled to political control, still enjoys a de facto monopoly of the news market and presents a narrow perspective of the Zimbabwean story, in complete violation of their mandate to serve all shades of national opinion.”
As Unesco today hosts an important media conference, the first such meeting since Kariba, we can only agree with this disturbing conclusion.
The whole nation was given a good laugh by the lead letter in Tuesday’s Herald. It was headed “Don’t use funerals for politicking” and was signed “Mwana Wevhu”. It should of course have been signed “hypocrite”.
Finally, here’s a Confucian thought: A Lion will not betray his wife but a Tiger Wood.