Last Thursday European Commission delegate Aldo Dell’Arricia was reported as acknowledging the existence of a free press in Zimbabwe.
“I have been in this country for the past eight days,” he told ZTV, “and what I can tell you is that there is a press that is free. You can read newspapers in this country and have a feeling of independent information.”
And where was this independent information at the State House ceremony? Were any independent newspapers invited? Were there any independent radio or television reporters to cover the event?
Of course Ambassador Dell-Ariccia chose his words carefully. “I can tell you that there is a press that is free,” he said.
That obviously doesn’t include the Herald. But that newspaper went on to pretend that Zimbabwe had a free press. “Zim’s press free”, the paper dutifully proclaimed the next day.
Is Dell-Arricia aware of how little the Media Commission has achieved since its inception? Is he aware of Tafataona Mahoso’s sinister presence on the commission? And how many radio licences have been awarded (nil)? Meanwhile, our colleagues based overseas and in South Africa have still not had an assurance of safe passage if they were to return to Zimbabwe. At a Unesco-sponsored conference earlier this month none of the state editors turned up despite having confirmed their attendance. They are obviously not their own men!
We wish Sgr Dell-Arricia a happy and productive stay in Zimbabwe. But having just got off the boat he needs to take soundings in the media before he next holds forth on the current situation.
Zanu PF secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa provides a significant insight into his party’s contempt for democracy. Responding to a recent poll by MPOI revealing that Morgan Tsvangirai would claim an easy victory over President Mugabe in any presidential poll, Mutasa told supporters in Masvingo: “Who is Tsvangirai? He will never rule this country. Never, ever. How can we let the country be ruled by sellouts? He will only do so over our dead bodies. If we go to the polls and he defeats Mugabe, Zanu PF and the people of Zimbabwe will not allow that.”
When asked by NewsDay to clarify his remarks last Friday, Mutasa refused to comment further.
“I do not want to hear anything about it. If you continue asking me about this issue, I will beat you up. I was not addressing you; I was addressing the people of Masvingo.”
Let’s hope supine Sadc members make a note of these comments. They perfectly represent what the democratic movement in this country is up against. But at least we know what these losers are thinking. Don’t we recall somebody else saying “Never in a thousand years…”?
Perhaps that’s where Mutasa got the idea!
Muckraker was amused by a story in the Standard reporting that Zimbabwe had been suspended from taking part in the Homeless World Cup in Brazil. This is apparently because the entire team bar one — Petros Chitiza — decided to remain in Australia after the last tournament that was held there.
The homeless teams, drawn from 64 nations, comprise street kids from those countries.
“Zimbabwe will not be part of the Homeless World Cup in Brazil following the debacle in which all the players except me (Chitiza) decided to stay in Australia,” Chitiza lamented. The defectors included the entire management team as well as the players.
“It’s unfortunate that the whole team decided to remain in Australia,” Chitiza said. “It was their own decision but I am not saying it was the right thing to do.”
Self-help schemes will be started in future to make sure the players have something to return to. Meanwhile, Reason can acquaint them with their revolutionary duty to go home and struggle!
There are occasional rewards for those few readers who are prepared to wade through the turgid dross that constitutes Mahoso’s weekly African Focus column in the Sunday Mail.
Reflecting the maxim that a little learning is a dangerous thing, he will seize on some event 50 years ago to underpin a current argument. Last Sunday he was spouting indignation over Tony Blair’s receipt of the Liberty Medal for Conflict Resolution. He referred to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted in 1948 and pointed out that South African Prime Minister Jan Smuts had been present at the San Francisco signing ceremony.
He declared that “in South Africa in 1948 apartheid was proclaimed de jure officially as a state policy…This was important because South Africa in 1948 was a self-governed British colony.”
No it wasn’t. South Africa in 1948 was a fully-fledged dominion and had been so since 1910. That status had been confirmed by the Statute of Westminster in 1931. South Africa was represented by its prime minister at San Francisco precisely because it was an independent state. Mahoso appears unaware of this and deals with this problem by expressing indignation that Smuts was present. He doesn’t explain how Smuts could have been present if South Africa was not a sovereign state.
The National Party (not “nationalist party”) came to power later that year and passed a raft of laws that were known as apartheid. Of course they were “de jure” if they were part of the country’s legal framework. That is self-evident. Smuts meanwhile was out of office having been defeated in the 1948 election.
Mahoso was posing on ZTV last Thursday as an expert on Blair and the Iraq war. His appearances should carry a warning that he is not in fact an expert on many of the topics on which he holds forth!
“The world should refuse to be fooled by media stunts,” he declares. More to the point, Zimbabweans should refuse to be fooled by his ZTV stunts. His homework this weekend should be to familiarise himself with “colonialism of a special kind”.
We were interested to note that President Mugabe will be flying from New York, where he has been attending the UN General Assembly, to Quito in Ecuador to receive an honorary doctorate in civil law from a university run by the Anglican church of the province of Ecuador.
Bishop Walter Roberto Crespo who heads this schismatic outfit was in Zimbabwe recently to meet Mugabe, Bishop Kunonga and others. Readers interested in the background to Bishop Crespo should Google him up and check out a BBC story of March 14 2001.
Muckraker has over the years reported the formation of shadowy Zanu PF front organisations that purport to be part of civil society. These have included outfits such as the Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions, Zimbabwe Revolutionary Volunteers Front, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Justice, Kunonga’s Anglicans, Zimbabwe Association of Editors, Destiny of Africa Network, Zimbabwe Coffin-Makers Association, Zimbabwe Exhumers Association, and the Allied Youth in Mining Organisation.
Now we have another one: the Federation of Civil Society Organisations.
FCSO has set up a 13-member committee headed by Zanu PF apologist Goodson Nguni and including Chris Mutangadura who is the government’s chief law officer in the AG’s office.
The organisation has been established to rival Nango which has appointed Farai Maguwu’s Centre for Research and Development as a focal point for NGOs monitoring the diamond trade in terms of the Kimberley Process.
Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy chair Edward Chindori Chininga told the media that a delegation from the Kimberley Process had recommended that NGOs have a role in line with KP procedures as discussed in St Petersburg.
But the FCSO has moved to occupy that space and to resist the appointment of Maguwu. Nguni’s outfit argued that Maguwu was unsuitable for the role given pending court cases against him.
Nango CEO Cephas Zinhumwe has described FCSO as “a bogus organisation” and asked them where they were when Murambatsvina was going down. Needless to say, “not around”.
Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri claims there is an NGO dedicated to the protection of flies. We have yet to hear its name.
ZimFlies? This should not be confused with South Africa’s national airline, FlySAA.
Rugare Gumbo, speaking to the People’s Voice, said sanctions had been put in place to cause three things, disindustrialisation, regime change, and making people suffer.
He’s got it wrong. Sanctions were put in place to protest against political violence and electoral rigging. Zanu PF’s voodoo economic policies were responsible for dis-industialisation and “making people suffer”.
But Gumbo did get it right on regime change. Everybody in Zimbabwe wants regime change but Zanu PF is refusing to comply!
Gumbo should be asked: “How many people do you think buy your silly stories about sanctions? Anybody above the age of five?
But always prepared to say something daft, Didymus Mutasa told the People’s Voice that Zanu PF was concerned about the welfare of Zimbabweans, that is why the party had decided to form three committees to deal with specific issues effectively: namely economic, social and administrative.
So there you have it. The nation is saved. Three committees to the rescue!
And Zanu PF MP for Shamva South Samuel Ziteya says the people are now tired of Morgan Tsvangirai’s party of “stoogies” (sic).
“If they want to play monkey tricks it is better for them to ship out or we will rather ship them out…”
Is that the same as “shaping up or shipping out”? We lost the thread there somewhere what with the monkeys causing havoc with their tricks!
Muckraker has been struck by the volume of publicity surrounding Dr Munyaradzi Kereke, advisor to RBZ governor Gideon Gono. He keeps popping up in puff-piece supplements — including in our papers — telling everybody how wonderful and accomplished he is. In the material we suspect he wrote himself on the Tobacco Grower of the Year Award he forgot to even mention who had actually won the first prize. (He came second although you wouldn’t know it.)
Meanwhile, he has just opened a medical centre in Mount Pleasant which neighbours say is noisy and disruptive. Council officials warned against the development but the council itself gave the go-ahead.
The Herald told us (no doubt coming from Kereke) that people who were objecting to his medical project were affluent and could therefore seek attention elsewhere. He pledged to drive down ambulance costs by 60% by year-end. It was “madness” what some private operators were charging, he said.
Among those congratulating him as a “visionary tobacco farmer” was Doves Funeral Services which called him “a rising star”, and Imperial Motors which — entirely coincidentally you understand — also described him as “a rising star”. There was an accompanying picture of him bowing to VP Joice Mujuru.
l In last week’s edition we referred to Kuchi as builders of the new passport office. That should be Energoproject. Our apologies.
Finally, we enjoyed the following message from a reader containing the word “fluctuations”.
“I was at my bank today,” so the story went. “There was a short queue.
“There was just one lady in front of me, an Asian lady who was trying to exchange yen for dollars.
“It was obvious she was a little irritated. She asked the teller: ‘Why it change? Yesterday, I get two hunat dolla fo yen. Today I only get hunat eighty? Why it change’?”
“The teller shrugged his shoulders and said: “Fluctuations”.
“The Asian lady says: “Fluc you white people too.”