HomeOpinionMuckraker: Leadership change alien to Zanu PF

Muckraker: Leadership change alien to Zanu PF

General Constantine Chiwenga thinks it’s OK for him to meddle in politics while threatening NGOs with expulsion if they do the same thing.
“Zimbabwe will not hesitate to kick out NGOs that meddle in the country’s internal politics,” he warned in an address at an Anglican church meeting last week.

He urged church organisations to be wary of “machinations of Western imperialists” to topple legitimate governments through their institutions.
“We have a plethora of NGOs here and most of them are political commissars of neo-colonialism,” he said.
“If you come saying you want to build Blair toilets and we later see you interfering in political affairs of this country, we will tell you to go.”
What about military officers that interfere in the internal affairs of this country? We hope they have to go as well. Are the operations of NGOs not governed by law? What right does Chiwenga have to dictate who can and cannot work here? He should be attending to the needs of the armed forces and providing a professional service to the nation. That is his job, not policing civil society.
Zimbabwe has a problem with Zanu PF supporters over-stepping their responsibilities. We drew attention recently to Brigadier Douglas Nyikayaramba who told us 10 years ago that he was a retired officer and thus eligible to be chief elections officer. Now he is marching around in uniform threatening people who support the MDC-T.
We hear Zanu PF apparatchiks like Karikoga Kaseke talking about “negative perceptions” of Zimbabwe which deter tourism. When we see military officers engaging in politics and threatening people who don’t subscribe to Zanu PF’s redundant views we are not at all surprised that such perceptions persist.
Meanwhile, the nation relies upon NGOs to keep rural folk fed because Zanu PF has destroyed the country’s agricultural base. Despite reports of a great leap forward, the country is still dependent upon US and EU support.

Why does Welshman Ncube choose to focus on the need to lift sanctions without condemning the sanctions Zanu PF has imposed on the country?
Ncube said at the MDC-M congress that “sanctions continue to impede the democratic process”.
Do they? What about the refusal of the state to issue broadcasting licences? How can people make an informed choice at the ballot box when the only voice heard across the land is President Mugabe’s. What about the arrest of editors in what is becoming increasingly a police state? What about the role of the military in electoral intimidation, and the breakdown in the rule of law?
What about the proposal by the Attorney-General to set up a commission of lawyers to examine prosecuting Tsvangirai for treason, a dubious step if ever there was one?
Instead of examining these matters in his speech Ncube chose to make a populist address about sanctions and “Western interference”.
Is this really what the people want? Another lecture on the evils of colonialism and how all our troubles can be put down to sanctions?
Prof: Can we stop you if we’ve heard it? And if it is “the right of the people of Zimbabwe to choose who should lead them at any given time”, why don’t you submit yourself to their verdict and find a seat to contest? Or are sanctions preventing that?

The leadership change that occurred within the formerly Arthur Mutambara-led MDC is a clear testimony of lack of focus in the party, at least according to Zanu PF.
On Monday evening unlucky viewers were subjected to the “scoff” by Zanu PF of the just-ended MDC conference which saw Welshman Ncube ascending to the post of president.
Zanu PF Secretary for Information and Publicity Rugare Gumbo is quoted as saying the MDC “has got no vision or programme for Zimbabwe and this was evidenced by the chaotic scenes at the party’s third congress and the divisions that emerged in the movement.”
We are tempted to surmise that the “chaotic scenes” Gumbo is referring to are about Mutambara peacefully stepping aside without any bloodshed. Zanu PF officials have made clear on numerous occasions their disdain for the peaceful transfer of the reins of power. At their own conference in Mutare they swiftly suppressed any talk of succession within their ranks.
A Cde Boniface Mutize is quoted as saying the recent events at the MDC-M congress reveal that the faction is not credible (sic) even to qualify to receive government funding given to political parties in Zimbabwe.
“This is a clear testimony of lack of focus in the party,” he mused. “Surely these guys do not even deserve receiving government funding.”
Leadership change is clearly an alien concept in Zanu PF’s view and to them it is a sign that “the party (MDC-M) is immature as far as politics is concerned.”
Probably having “a party of octogenarians,” as Jonathan Moyo describes Zanu PF, is the sign of maturity that they are looking for!

Not to be outdone, MDC-99 leader Job Sikhala is reported by ZBC as stating that there would be no fundamental changes in the MDC because of Ncube’s ascent.
“The fortunes of the party which had been on a downwards trend,” says Sikhala, “look set to continue.”
Sikhala goes on to point out that the Ncube faction faces the challenge to change public perceptions from being a regional and tribally inclined party to a national movement. He also said that in case of elections he does not see the Ncube-led formation getting more than 1% of the votes.
Talk about the pot calling the kettle black! It would be prudent for Sikhala to focus on his own party’s measly political fortunes. He too faces a monumental challenge to change public perceptions of his party from being a Mickey mouse outfit to one whose membership exceeds 99 people.

We were interested to read in NewsDay that settlers at Vreigright Farm near Figtree are “up in arms” with the government over the eviction of a white farmer who has been replaced by Bulawayo High Court judge, Justice Maphios Cheda.
“When we accepted this land at the height of the land reform we were settled as A1 land holders and we were advised by the district authorities to coexist with a white farmer who had a conservancy here and we did that,” a representative of the farmers said. “About three months ago however we saw Justice Cheda coming from out of the blue to settle here.”
Justice Cheda had an offer letter for 500 hectares they said. That was “a huge chunk” of land, they said, wondering where their animals would graze.
“The settlers said Justice Cheda ‘had already started dictating as if he was our landlord and it had become difficult to get water from him unlike in the past when the white farmer was on the land’.”
“We lived well with the farmer but now we have seen police coming around with the surfacing of Justice Cheda from nowhere and we now have a very uneasy relationship with him…Obviously we fear him being a judge and do not see why the white man was removed.”

This is an interesting story. The Zimbabwe Independent has argued consistently over the years since 2000 that it was injudicious for judges to accept gifts from the government. Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku says judges are as entitled  as anyone else to apply for land.
But in the case reported above we see how there is a possible conflict of interest.
After the opening of the new legal year by the Chief Justice this week in which he asserted the need for an independent judiciary, the Herald was full of praise.
But while we also welcome this assertion of the independence of the judiciary, we know that the allocation of farms to judges –– who preside over land cases and whose farms can just as easily be withdrawn by the minister –– vitiates that independence.
This is something that needs to be examined during the constitutional reform process.

We were interested to note that Tendai Midzi, who pours scorn on Morgan Tsvangirai, is now simply locating himself in London and no longer pretends to be an economics lecturer at the London Metropolitan University. That is perhaps because the Herald edited his extravagant claims. However, his Metropolitan fiction persists on his website.
Why is the Herald so dependent on columnists who refuse to live in Zimbabwe? There must be some resident Zimbabweans who are prepared to defend Zanu PF!
One of those brave few, Isdore Guvamombe, last week illustrated the problem of half-baked local commentators by telling a whopper about a girl in a miniskirt. The story was passed on to him second hand so by the time it reached the Herald it had become, like his hero, rather elderly.
Anyway, young Isdore’s uncle was working in a labour gang of four men plus a foreman on Manica Rd when the miniskirt came past. Unused to such shameless exposure, the men stared. So disconcerted was the girl by this “visual harassment” that she lost her step and tripped.
The white foreman confirmed in court that the men had embarrassed the girl with their “talking and lustful eyes”. They were, according to Guvamombe, sentenced to six-months jail.
Needless to say, Guvamombe takes some liberties with his story. He places the event in “a part of town reserved for whites only”, that is “the “eastern side of the CDB (sic), that is the area from King’s Way (sic) going up to First St”.
“Under normal circumstances they would not put their foot there for it was the preserve of the white Rhodesian supremacists…”
“The ‘No Jews, No Blacks’ insignia was inscribed at shop doors and hotels but they (the road repair gang) had the privilege to work in the area.”

Normally it would not be worthwhile discussing this tosh, but as Guvamombe claims it is part of a campaign to prevent anybody daring to mention human rights in the current era, it would be useful to comment.
Here are just a few points for the record. Guvamombe says his uncle, from whom this story emanated, worked on construction sites in Harare from 1957 to 1980. Miniskirts were worn in the late 1960s. There was no “insignia” outside shops and hotels saying  “No Jews, No Blacks”. In South Africa in the 1950s perhaps, in Rhodesia no. More likely was an occasional “Whites Only” sign but these had been largely removed by the late 60s when miniskirts were common. There were needless to say no parts of the city in the 1960s reserved for whites. Where did he get that from? And we are unaware of any law called “Visual Harassment”. Perhaps Guvamombe can tell us when it was passed? Crimen Injuria would have been a more likely “offence”.
We understand Zanu PF’s need to recall colonial brutality to beef up its sagging cause, but there is a whole generation now that knows who is responsible for the nation’s current plight and refuses to embrace those who tell tall tales. The story of colonial discrmination needs to be told. But it would be useful if official regurgitators could get just a few of their facts right.
By the way, has anybody looked at sidewalk pavings in the CBD today? Absolutely no attempt has been made to prevent them from being a terrible hazard to pedestrians.

We were intrigued to see Commissioner of Prisons, Retired Major-General Paradzai Zimondi, talking of a “turnaround” in the prison system
He was speaking on the occasion of the promotion of two deputy commissioners.
“Let it be known that His Excellency the Head of State and Government and Commander in Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces Cde RG Mugabe and the Government of  the Republic of Zimbabwe appreciate your exceptional efforts and thus you have kindly been rewarded,” Zimondi told the deputy commissioners. He said the prisons faced a “blessed” year.
So what exactly has been achieved in the prisons system since Justice Rita Makarau wrote that excoriating report on shocking conditions under Zimondi’s regime?
It would be good to hear that the prisons chiefs have spent some time improving conditions in the prisons, that is of course when they are not heaping praise on each other.
And what was this “button stick” a police officer used to stop Douglas Mwonzora from running over another officer? Was it the same as a baton stick?
MPs should lead by example, police spokesman Supt Andrew Phiri said. He didn’t mean running over policemen we hope!

While the Herald editorial of January 10 lauds the slashing of maize in undesignated areas, another state-controlled organ, ZBC, condemns it as inspired by agents of imperialism.
Talk of the left eye not seeing what the right does. Ever heard of cognitive dissonance?

The Herald carried a rather dishonest caption on January 8 in its “People & Living” supplement. It showed Rastafarians “puffing cigarettes at their shrine in Glen Norah” during the recent visit by Capleton.
Cigarettes my foot. A quick glance and any reader would safely conclude those weren’t cigarettes they were puffing!

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