Muckraker: These people are very much with us

THE bigger the lie the more people are inclined to believe it, Nazi Propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels is reputed to have said.

There are a number of “big lies” currently circulating. Muckraker drew attention recently to the claim that Roy Bennett was a Selous Scout. We noted last month that Tafataona Mahoso was spreading the false rumour that Bennett was a member of the Selous Scouts when he was just a police reservist.
Now Joseph Chinotimba is doing the same thing. He claimed last week that David Coltart was a Selous Scout.
This was in response to a statement by Coltart that more than 20 000 people died in the Matabeleland disturbances of the 1980s.
Chinotinba’s veterans outfit has demanded a meeting with the minister and threatened to “invade” his office if he doesn’t accede.
“His utterances are unacceptable and an insult to our country’s liberation struggle,” Chinotimba claimed. It was “quite preposterous for Coltart to talk about human rights and post-Independence disturbances when taking into cognisance his background as a former member of the brutal and murderous Rhodesian Selous Scouts,” he said.
“Your utterances have given us second thoughts on those white farmers who are still on our land yet you benefited from the reconciliation policy,” he said.
So this is how it works. Chinotimba makes a false and ignorant claim about Coltart, who as a prominent Bulawayo lawyer with the Legal Resources Foundation brought to light in 1996 the atrocities committed by the Fifth Brigade in the 1980s. Chinotimba then uses that false claim as a pretext to cause havoc on the remaining white farms.
We hope Zanu PF’s methodology will be drawn to the attention of Sadc leaders who have been less than forthright on human rights abuses in Zimbabwe.

And in this context it was interesting to note the hysteria last week over US human rights abuses in Iraq. This was in the context of George Bush’s autobiography.
What is interesting about these outbursts in the state media is the people shouting the loudest have never made a single complaint about atrocities in this, their own country.
Before they start pointing fingers at the US and Morgan Tsvangirai, couldn’t they first tell us what happened to Jestina Mukoko? Who was responsible for her arbitrary arrest, incarceration and torture?
Instead of reminding us about Abu Ghraib, what about reminding us of what happened to Morgan Tsvangirai and others at Machipisa police station in 2007?
We are still keen to know, by the way, who produced that fictional document described in court as “bedtime reading”, masquerading as a “transitional document” allegedly authored by Tendai Biti on changes the MDC would make in office.
It was a clumsy and childish production given acres of publicity by the Herald which ended up having to retract it. But we still want to know who forged it?
Then there was the iron-bar attack on Nelson Chamisa at Harare airport. Why have the details of that episode been kept quiet?
Those attacking Tsvangirai with such savagery should tell us about their own role in these events before excoriating others.
Meanwhile, Muckraker hears on the grapevine that one reason Biti is so unpopular with the Zanu PF aristocracy was his reported bid to prevent President Mugabe taking 86 hangers-on (one for each year) to the UN general assembly in New York. Biti was evidently thwarted in his bid to contain the costs of this trip!
And his advice that there are insufficient funds to stage a referendum and election next year seem to have fallen on equally deaf ears!

Muckraker’s attention was drawn to a front-page statement headed “Matter of Fact” in the Herald on Tuesday which apologised to Local Government minister Ignatious Chombo for publishing an “extensive” list of property which the paper claimed would be distributed at trial in the case involving the minister’s divorce.
It has now come to the Herald’s attention, we are told, that “the property to be distributed at trial was far less than what had been published and that such property was never part of the property for distribution and its existence was never verified.”
It is a pity that the Herald, never the most courageous of newspapers, should be clobbered in this way for simply doing its duty as a public watchdog.
Muckraker won’t get involved in the nitty-gritty of the case however tempting. But we can say this.
Newspapers have a duty to measure the wealth of public figures against the office that they hold. Newspapers have a duty to ask under what circumstances public figures became rich, especially when their wealth could not have been drawn from their official incomes.
Needless to say, reference will be made to wives, brothers cousins etc playing a helpful role.
But the question remains: How did this person become so rich so quickly? Newspapers must ask that. And just in case, dear readers, you thought we were focusing exclusively on Zanu PF functionaries, we remain acutely aware of MDC luminaries who have never worked a day in their lives and are now as rich as Croesus. Well, almost!
Talking of new-found wealth, Muckraker was extremely unimpressed by Obert Mpofu’s reported attempts to endear himself to the president by signing himself “Your ever obedient son” in correspondence with Mugabe regarding the Core mining affair.
Whatever the case, it did the trick. Mpofu’s detractors were investigated and arrested. And Mpofu is laughing all the way to Marange!!

Now it’s Muckraker’s turn to eat humble pie. Last week we referred to Brian Mushohwe as Chris Mushohwe’s son. In fact he is his nephew. Our apologies to all the Mushohwes except the farm invader.

Reflecting on the case of Core’s grand rip-off, Muckraker identified a national characteristic. How come a company so evidently ill-equipped to undertake sophisticated mining operations, without any capital or experience, is able to enter into a joint venture with a state company which also hasn’t got much to bank on, although its boss quickly became king of the castle?
Something rang a bell here. A young girl in Chinhoyi claiming special powers managed to hoodwink ministers, senior civil servants, and police officers into believing she could produce petrol from a rock.
It was truly pathetic to see chefs falling for that one and a whole cabinet committee mounting an expedition to explore what to everyone else in the country looked like a hoax. But now it seems they have fallen for more promises and illusions. Is it greed? Is it ignorance? Is it plain stupidity?
Whatever the case, we seem as a society to have these people very much with us.
Don’t we Didymus?

Poor ZBC employees! While –– as reported by the Standard this week –– their senior executives are getting “obscene” salaries and allowances, they have to be grateful when they are lucky enough to get their measly salaries at the designated date. According to the Herald, they went three months without a salary.
It is sad to realise that presenters are putting up brave faces, parroting Zanu PF’s current mantra of empowerment yet they are getting the short end of the stick. Surely ZBC must be “indigenised”!
These sad revelations come at a time when there are shrill calls for the revamping of ZTV’s programming which has alienated viewers and advertisers alike. As viewership continues to slide it is quite evident that things will get worse before they get better.
As if working without guaranteed remuneration is not demoralising enough, they have to contend with obsolete equipment and cameras which constantly break down. Pockets Hill has become more of a junkyard –– with car wrecks sprawled around the compound ––than the home of the “one and only permanent choice” broadcaster.
Meanwhile CEO Happison Muchechetere, apparently unimpressed by this dire state of affairs, last month castigated journalists for being enticed to provide politicians with exclusive coverage of their events without the knowledge of the journalists’ superiors at the corporation. Isn’t it a no-brainer why they wouldn’t want to inform their grossly salaried superiors?
“Bribing journalists is not proper,” Muchechetere said on ZTV news, “and should be stopped because if you [politicians] continue with that habit, the journalists are the ones who will suffer the consequences, because anyone caught will be fired and other drastic measures will be taken against him/her.”
What more drastic measures can be employed beyond not paying people what is due to them, Cde Muchechetere?
Here is the clincher: “He explained that ZBC employees’ salaries are favourable compared to other media houses, saying that there should be no reason for them to be corrupt except that they are driven by greed.”
Radio DJs are not spared the agony as they are now compelled to play Zanu PF propaganda songs. Added to this, they are now required to describe “with passion” Zanu PF exploits. Lack of this so-called “passion” could result in dismissal.
Cry the less-than-beloved national broadcaster!

Readers may enjoy this story doing the rounds. A young police officer was taking his final exam at Police Staff Training College in Zambia .
He was asked: You are on patrol in the outskirts of Lusaka when an explosion occurs in a nearby township.
On investigation you find a large hole has been blown in the footpath and there is an overturned van lying nearby. Inside the van there is a strong smell of alcohol. Both occupants –– a man and woman –– are injured.
You recognise the woman as the wife of your Divisional Inspector, who is at present away on a peace-keeping mission. A passing motorist stops to offer you assistance and you realise that he is a man who is wanted for armed robbery. Suddenly a man runs out of a nearby house, shouting that his wife is expecting a baby and that the shock of the explosion has made the birth imminent. Describe in a few words what action you would take.
The officer thought for a moment, picked up his pen, and wrote: “I would take off my uniform and mingle with the crowd.”

Finally, Zanu PF’s incessant  propaganda seems to have wearied some of Africa’s statesmen. President Joaquim Chissano during his recent visit was asked by ZBC’s Judith Makwanya what he thought about sanctions. “I’m tired,” came the firm reply.
Join the club Joe!

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