HomeOpinionMuckraker: Agreeing with Mugabe a state media habit

Muckraker: Agreeing with Mugabe a state media habit

THE excitement surrounding WikiLeaks disclosures continues with the state media naturally making the most of this windfall. But it is not all newsworthy. On Monday the Herald carried a front-page story headed “US controls IMF”. This was based on a cable released on Sunday that “shows the US government directed the IMF not to restore Zimbabwe’s voting rights”.

Did it really take several Herald sleuths a whole day to work that out? Isn’t this instruction already in the public domain as part of Zidera, the 2001 US sanctions Act? And hasn’t the Herald itself repeatedly drawn attention to this connection?
Meanwhile, still with WikiLeaks, most people will by now have read that the Standard is being sued by Grace Mugabe for carrying another story that the whistle-blowing website released nearly two weeks ago.
It referred to transactions at the Chiadzwa diamond mine over which there has been bitter controversy. The state and its allies which had ignored the original WikiLeaks story pounced on the Standard’s account which included reference to Mrs Mugabe and others.
It is only the second such legal case, we understand, arising from disclosures by WikiLeaks around the world.
Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono has since joined the fray with a lawsuit of his own against the Standard. This is bound to attract considerable publicity ahead of any presidential poll. Reuters attached a copy of the original cable which referred to Mrs Mugabe, Gono and Andrew Cranswick of ACR.

Whilst the Standard will no doubt leave it to its lawyers to rebut the charges brought by Mrs Mugabe, we have no hesitation in challenging here and now her lawyers’ claim that she is “mother of the nation”.
“The plaintiff is of high standing in Zimbabwe,” her lawyers assert. “She is well regarded internationally. Further, she is the wife of His Excellency the President of Zimbabwe.
“The imputation of such conduct on a person of such high standing, the mother of the nation, is to lower the respect with which she is held by all right thinking persons to a point of disappearance.”
It is difficult to know what this means. What disappearance? Who has disappeared?
But what we do know is that lawyers should avoid awarding plaintiffs indulgent honorifics that have no basis in law.
The title “mother of the nation” is not one we are familiar with. And Mrs Mugabe, together with her husband, are the subject of numerous prohibition orders against travel in Europe and North America.
Mrs Mugabe has not hesitated in the recent past (Shamva, May 2008) to engage in partisan invective which is inconsistent with somebody carrying the title of “mother of the nation”.
Susan Tsvangirai would never enter State House, she declared.
We note as well that some of the Mugabe children are educated abroad.
We would be keen to hear the opinion of a High Court judge who, among others, reportedly found himself the victim of Mrs Mugabe’s fast-track land acquisition.

Muckraker was intrigued by an article in the Sunday Mail last weekend denouncing the MDC-T in puerile and intemperate terms.
“The MDC-T represents a filthy appendage of Western neo-imperial forces,” the writer claimed, “that are determined to stop the empowerment of the people as they want the ownership of the means of production to remain in foreign hands. Put simply they are sell-outs.”
It was signed Joseph Neusu.
They didn’t give his age but one might be forgiven for thinking this was written by a 10-year-old. Muckraker was wondering why the editor of the Sunday Mail would let such toxic rubbish into his newspaper. But then something rang a bell.
In the days when Tafataona Mahoso ran the Media and Information Commission, complaints against material appearing in the Zimbabwe Independent were invariably attributed to a J Neusu who, we always presumed, lived in a dark corner of the Ministry of Information.
He came to life whenever somebody was needed to claim to be “outraged” by a letter to the editor or an article appearing in the paper.
We may be completely wrong of course. But where is J Neusu now?

More to the point where is Mahoso? Muckraker tracked him down to the Sunday Mail’s Siberia, Page D2 of a supplement headed “In-Depth”.
How the mighty are fallen! It contains the same old frothing at the mouth about “racist plunder” but is miles away from the editorial heights of yesteryear. Even J Neusu is treated better in terms of page allocation!
Muckraker is intrigued to know what sort of arrangement was made with the ZMC on transfer fees.

The supplement where Mahoso now features by the way carries such arresting articles as that on different kinds of phobias. Did you know that nomophobia is the fear of being out of cellphone range? Muckraker knows of several journalists suffering from that one!
And then there is the National Archives which is celebrating “75 years of archival excellency”.
Is that the same as “excellence”? There is only one excellency we know of!

Did retired Brigadier Ambrose Mutinhiri really say he was ready to kill people who continued to oppose the rule of Robert Mugabe? He was quoted in the Zimbabwean newspaper as threatening villagers who attended a meeting at Landas Shopping Centre in Chihota. The paper reported Mutinhiri said he was good at killing and ready to go to war. People were thereby encouraged to hand in their MDC-T membership cards.
If true, this is very revealing. Zanu PF can only get by with threats of this sort.
Then there was the reported suggestion by Brigadier Douglas Nyikayaramba and his local committee that people advocating sanctions should face the death penalty.
Is this really what the country has come to?

Our warm congratulations to William Chikoto, editor of the Herald, on his Superbrand Award. The Herald has been busy congratulating itself on the award so we thought we should join in.
One small point however. Sylvester Nguni is on the right of the picture, not the left!
The Herald has enjoyed brand loyalty since 1891 we are told. It does look a bit like it!

It was shocking to see during the Zanu PF congress certain ZBC staffers clad in party regalia. It was even more shocking to see the national broadcaster’s boss, Happison Muchechetere, also in a shirt plastered with party messages at the same venue.
These people are entitled to hold their own political views and alignments but it becomes worrisome when they do so in the public glare given the organisations they work for. ZBC is supposed to be a public entity. Why are its managers behaving so unprofessionally? Who is driving this partisanship?
A few weeks ago we received a letter from Muchechetere claiming ZBC was apolitical. No danger of that last week!

On the subject of partisanship, a writer to the Herald, George Damson, appears to think that DA leader in South Africa, Helen Zille (which he spells “Ziller” throughout) is a “failed” and “racist” politician.
Is Damson unaware that the DA won the Western Cape in the last election? Is he so ignorant that he doesn’t know Zille’s following is made up of all population groups in the Western Cape but mostly the coloured community that numbers several million?
Zille is fluent in Afrikaans and Xhosa and is highly regarded as an effective administrator. The DA controls Cape Town as well as the Western Cape. But some ignorant Zanu PF apologist who obviously knows nothing about South African politics feels compelled to write to the editor of the Herald to abuse her.
It’s amazing isn’t it how anybody who is successful as a leader comes in for abuse of this sort? Zanu PF hates success and will hunt it down wherever they think it resides!

What is so interesting now is that the Herald and Sunday Mail, which only last weekend were telling us what a terrible thing the GNU was are now agreeing with the president that it’s in fact a wonderful thing!
Last week the official line was that the GNU was an obstacle to Zanu PF’s rapacious rule.
Now we are told it is very successful and has brought stability to Zimbabwe.  Elections will only be held when “certain processes envisaged by the GPA have been fulfilled”.
Isn’t that what the independent press, civil society and business have been saying week after week? That there can be no election until GPA reforms have been fulfilled?
“Principals hail inclusive government,” is now the message. The Herald carried a front-page picture on Tuesday of the happy principals!
And if tomorrow the president declares that black is white and white is black the Herald will probably run an editorial saying they fully support the president in his historic quest to ensure black is white.
Purleez you guys. Is this what you do all day? We need to know what happened to change the president’s mind so suddenly. There’s obviously a story there. He was dead against the GNU just 48 hours earlier.
And somebody should tell his
advisors there haven’t been 400 British companies operating in Zimbabwe since the 1990s. There are probably half that number now. It would be easy enough to ask the British embassy but this hasn’t occurred to anybody in the state press because it might contradict the president.

Yet another Zanu PF front organisation, the Zimbabwe Entrepreneurs Youth Action, is “rallying behind the government” in demanding that Zimbabwe be allowed to sell its diamonds to develop the country.
“The organisation challenged the West to let Zimbabwe sell its own diamonds for the benefit of every citizen including youths,” we are told.
What they obviously want is a piece of the action. They seem to think the Ministry of Mines will facilitate this. An approach to the “ever obedient son” might do the trick. Bootlicking has its rewards.

Muckraker could not suppress laughing out loud on Monday evening after tuning in to the state broadcaster during Newshour. Amidst the drudgery of the incessant propaganda there were a few gems from that particular bulletin that caught our notice. These were found in a report about the donation of fertiliser to some “youths”–– clearly aligned to Zanu PF – by President Mugabe.
In attempting to articulate their gratitude, some of the youths went to the extent of creating their own words. One of them described Mugabe as “a true revolutional” (sic). This is a welcome “devilment” is what another “youth” had to say.
Hopefully the pun was purely acciderrntal!

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