As we heard of brotherly relations between the two countries one couldn’t help but reflect on Zimbabweans arrested and incarcerated in Botswana jails in recent years.They weren’t laughing. Then there were the accusations about “pirate” radio stations transmitting from Francistown. Needless to say, the MDC was heavily implicated in all this, newspaper reports at the time claimed. Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai was virtually living in Botswana at one stage.
Now, we are led to believe, all is well and always has been. Relations couldn’t be better.
An amusing dimension to the Herald’s story was an article on the same page by deputy Editor Caesar Zvayi on the “outrage” supposedly felt by the nation over the Copac draft constitution.
We recall Zvayi experiencing “outrage” at his treatment by the Botswana authorities not so long ago when he was taken to the border and after a night in the cells deported to Zimbabwe after the British had enquired about his status in Botswana. Will Zvayi now return to his media teaching job in Gaborone? Or will he just remain “outraged” in Harare?
The Herald switchboard was “jammed with callers from all walks of life”, we were told on Monday, protesting against Copac’s draft constitution. It should be sent back to the drafters, the “callers” said, with instructions that they should incorporate the people’s views.
“Analysts” chimed in to say that people at the helm of the constitution-making process had failed to steer a people-driven process by “producing a neo-liberal first draft that undermines national security and sovereignty”.
This is all very interesting. During the outreach programme Zanu PF’s followers were coached to make silly demands like President Mugabe should rule forever and journalists who criticised him should be hanged. When it became obvious that these demands had no place in a modern constitution, the party sulked and called the drafters all sorts of names.
One of the things the Herald’s “callers” and “experts” took particular exception to was the stipulation of term limits for the president. This led them to make the daft claim that the draft was “an open attack on the person of the president”.
It also placed Zimbabwe’s state secrets in jeopardy, it was fatuously claimed.
In reality Zimbabweans have moved on. You just don’t hear of people saying “we must protect our sovereignty” or “President Mugabe must rule forever”. What they say is “We want a better life”, and they know Zanu PF is not going to give it to them.
Prof Jonathan Moyo said the country should go for elections using the present constitution. That’s curious. We recall him saying in 2000 during the constitutional referendum campaign that a vote for the current constitution would be a vote for colonialism. Has he changed his mind –– again?
Zimbabwe joined the rest of the world in commemorating World Radio Day, ZBC reports, a date set aside to raise awareness of information through radio broadcasters.
To mark the occasion Media, Information and Publicity minister, Webster Shamu urged radio stations to enhance their status and effectiveness.
“Whenever broadcasting, one should always convey messages that earn him credibility from listeners,” he said.
“This is why during the liberation struggle the Voice of Zimbabwe gained more popularity than stations that peddled falsehoods about the war.
“The whites had a tendency of giving hyperbolic statements with a lot of exaggeration simply to intensify their propaganda but we stuck to the ethics and won the hearts of many people.”
Ironically it seems to have escaped Shamu’s notice that ZBC has taken over the mantle of the RBC. ZBC’s credibility as a news or entertainment source is in tatters.
Long-suffering ZBC listeners have to endure the abuse of “scorchers” emanating from the Born Free Crew as well as the rump-shaking Mbare Chimurenga Choir.
As a result they have had to tune in to Studio 7 and SW Radio Africa to glean a sober account of current affairs.
In the realm of hyperbole, ZBC has taken it a notch higher. Last August the broadcaster claimed that the Zimbabwe cricket team had sent “shockwaves” through the test cricket arena after cruising to a 130-run victory over Bangladesh in Harare.
What of the House of Gushungo clothing label which ZBC claimed had “hit the capital by storm” and was going to “redefine the country’s fashion industry”.
Shamu should address the rot at ZBC instead of pontificating about credibility which has long departed from the state broadcaster.
He should also implement the cabinet directive to regularise the appointment of the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (Baz) board, which controversially awarded two commercial radio licences to Zanu PF-aligned companies.
MDC-T-led councils in major cities have come under fire from residents who accuse the city and town fathers of maladministration resulting in a number of problems, ZBC reports.
“Residents who spoke to ZBC News accused the MDC-T-led councils of lacking the pedigree to run city and town affairs while questioning the ability of the Western-sponsored party to handle national affairs in the event it wins elections,” ZBC mused.
The continued interference of Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo in councils cannot go unchallenged. He has thrown spanners in the works of councils’ operations with the spectre of dismissal hanging over their heads.
NewsDay reports that Chombo has brought in defeated Zanu PF officials through the back door as Chitungwiza special interest councillors.
He appointed Zanu PF central committee members Joseph Macheka, Tsitsi Jadagu and Innocent Hamandishe, district coordinating committee (DCC) chairperson Wilfred Gwekwete and Zanu PF shadow MP for Zengeza East Victor Mambondiani, who is also a DCC member.
This follows the decision by a “resuscitation” team, appointed by Chombo to run the affairs of the Chitungwiza municipality, to fire two special interest councillors last week.
Chombo cannot be allowed to continue wreaking havoc. The electorate should be the judge of elected representatives, not Chombo.
Meanwhile the colourful MDC-99 president, Job Sikhala, has told SW Radio Africa that he and 70 members of his party leadership will go on a 66-day hunger strike at Africa Unity Square in Harare “until President Mugabe is gone”.
Quizzed about the significance of 66 days, Sikhala said “in terms of scientific study, it is said a person can survive 66 days without food. So we intend to stretch ourselves to the limit”.
“We will be drinking water obviously,” Sikhala says, “but on the whole we will not talk to anybody, we will not be holding any stones or any axes. We are going to engage in peaceful means. If it fails and the dictator continues, we will go into overdrive.”
Asked what he meant by “overdrive”, Sikhala said they would hold demonstrations to show that “we are tired of the dictator. Any call to elections in our country is a call to a blood bath,” he said. “Mugabe has never appreciated elections as a contestation of ideas.”
Asked if they had secured police clearance for the hunger strike Sikhala said “how can I request police clearance to refuse eating?”
Sikhala is better advised to take a less drastic route. In 2009 Sikhala wrote a letter to then South African president, Thabo Mbeki, claiming his party was “pulling out” of the Global Political Agreement.
“So who wants to know?” was the sentiment at the time!
Meryl Streep has been earning praise for her role as Margaret Thatcher in the biographical film of the Iron Lady’s career. Famous for her unbending will, she never enjoyed a joke. But that didn’t stop her stumbling across one.
At a dinner for her deputy, William Whitelaw, who was retiring from politics, she made the classic observation that “every prime minister needs a Willie”.
Perhaps Mr Cameron would care to reply!