WaMutharika bridled at the suggestion of creeping tyranny in his country mirroring his southern neighbour: “Malawi and Zimbabwe can never be the same,” he told the Guardian. “The political system is different, the economics are totally different.
“It’s total nonsense because there’s no country in sub-Saharan Africa that is as free as Malawi,” wa Mutharika insisted.
“What they are trying to do is to draw a parallel between the leadership of Zimbabwe and Malawi. There is no basis for that. That is totally unfair and uncalled for. I have been very democratic.”
However, after a three-hour meeting with President Mugabe three weeks ago the Malawian leader had said he was visiting Zimbabwe to exchange ideas with his counterpart.
“President Mugabe is my elder brother and it is well that I visit to share ideas with my elder brother on various issues,” he said.
Malawi Ambassador to Zimbabwe Professor Richard Phoya had also said there was nothing unusual about the visit, adding that Zimbabwe and Malawi were very close friends sharing a common history.
What are we to believe then Cde waMutharika?
Former South African President, Thabo Mbeki, has again “lashed out” at the UN and Nato over the attacks on the Muammar Gaddafi-led Libyan regime.
The UN gave free rein to the US, France and the UK, known as the P3, to intervene in Libya without any evidence of war, Mbeki said in Cape Town last week.
“In this context, I would like to state that there is absolutely no evidence that the [Muammar] Gaddafi regime either committed or had any intention to commit any genocide or wage a war against civilians, justifying the evocation by the UN, the P3 and Nato of the so-called ‘right to protect’,” Mbeki said.
Mbeki said it was young military officers, led by Gaddafi that originally overthrew a feudal regime to “assert the rights of African people”.
Here we go again. Clearly Mbeki’s idea of democracy is quite different from what we understand.
Muckraker was reminded of the time when Mbeki also “lashed out” at the international community for insisting that the Ivory Coast needed to hold democratic elections to end its crisis, “even though the conditions did not exist to conduct such elections”.
“However, the objective reality is that the Ivorian presidential elections should not have been held when they were held,” Mbeki had said. “It was perfectly foreseeable that they would further entrench the very conflict it was suggested they would end.”
Instead of elections, Mbeki suggested that, “the Ivorian crisis necessitated a negotiated agreement between the two belligerent Ivorian factions, focused on the interdependent issues of democracy, peace, national reconciliation and unity”.
Thank goodness his idea to accommodate Laurent Gbagbo, who had clearly lost the mandate to lead Ivory Coast, went unheeded.
With the adulatory birthday messages for President Mugabe in overdrive this week, we were amused by the story of the teacher who once taught him at primary school.
ZBC reports that Oscar Munyoro Katsukunya (115) “has more than a tale to tell as he speaks about his life as a teacher”.
“Born in 1897, Mr Katsukunya says the story of his life saw him train as a teacher at Kutama and was then posted to Murombedzi which is in Zvimba district as part of his teaching practice.
“Telling his story with difficulty now because of advanced age, he remembers vividly that the Robert Mugabe he taught at Sub A was an intelligent young boy,” we are told.
As expected, ZBC took the adulation to dizzying heights. Among thousands of students who passed through Katsukunya’s hands, we are told, he vividly remembers one who is now a renowned national leader and “global political supremo”, referring to President Mugabe.
There were the usual parade of congratulatory messages in the state press this week saluting the president on his birthday. However there would have been one message that would have felt a bit disconcerting. The greetings from Doves!
Meanwhile the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), keen on lavishing President Mugabe with the loftiest hero worship possible, took it a tad too far. Describing him as an “astute revolutionary”, the ZRP goes on to claim that President Mugabe “has stood the taste of time (sic) even in the wake of our detractors and the illegal economic sanctions”.
Not to be outdone, the Higher and Tertiary Education ministry stated: “May you inspire us with your unprecedented achievements as an educator par excellence and indeed a visionary.
“The ministry continues to develop highly skilled human capital and harnessing the brain drain through its human capital website.”
Instead of stemming the brain drain, they boldly claim to be “harnessing” it.
The European Union has given President Mugabe a birthday present by lifting sanctions against 51 people including journalists and politicians. But no sooner had the announcement been made than Zimpapers journalists started lying about the reasons for the imposition of the measures in the first place.
“The embargo that was imposed on Zimbabwe a decade ago for embarking on the land reform programme to resettle the landless majority has brought untold suffering to ordinary citizens,” one bootlicker wrote in the Herald.
No mention there of the expulsion of the EU observer mission team headed by Pierre Schori. No mention of the political violence and manipulation that accompanied the 2002 election.
Part of the problem lies with EU ambassador Aldo Dell’Arrichia who pronounced that Zimbabwe had a free press the minute he stepped off the boat. He didn’t seem to think it necessary to consult the “free press” to get their views. There had been “improvements” in the media, he now thinks. So why did he tell us all was well in the first place?
EU High Representative Catherine Ashton said the removal of certain individuals from the list was in light of developments in the country. Does that refer to remarks made by Douglas Nyikayaramba? Or Zanu PF’s denunciation of the constitutional draft?
The EU has done Zimbabweans few favours with their clumsy diplomacy.
South African President Jacob Zuma has reportedly told the EU that if they lift sanctions Mugabe would have no excuse for behaving badly. It would appear the EU has bought this argument. It will be interested to see what results emerge.
Despite the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) insisting that the construction of a five-star hotel near the National Sports Stadium in Harare must stop to ensure that a proper environmental impact assessment is carried out, the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) has said the project will continue as it met all environmental “requirements”.
The Standard reports that ZTA chief executive officer, Karikoga Kaseke, last week said the outcry over the construction of the hotel on a wetland was largely driven by personal hatred of Chinese people by certain sections of society.
“Zimbabweans look at everything from a political angle,” he said.
“I am convinced that if the investor constructing the hotel was from the United Kingdom, USA or other Western countries, no one would have queried the project. The Chinese are close to Zanu PF and some people are not happy with that,” Kaseke fumed.
No, Mr Kaseke, we are looking at it from an environmental angle. The building is being erected on a protected wetlands area, if you didn’t know.
“I am not corruptible. I have no regrets because what I am looking for are investors who can come and put up tourism infrastructure in the country. This is what I was mandated to do by President Mugabe who appointed me.
“So some people wanted us to sacrifice thousands of jobs and forgo these massive investments in order to protect frogs and 23 trees?” he asked. “Why did they not complain when the National Sports Stadium was built?” he added.
Is that the price we have to pay for investment; the destruction of our wetlands? Just because “over 3 000 jobs would be created” as Kaseke claims, we are supposed to leave it be. And just because the investors happen to be Chinese there is laxity in the application of regulations.
Environment minister Francis Nhema was surprisingly tame on the issue, claiming EMA had not approached him over the Belvedere wetland issue.
“I have not received any letter of complaint from any client regarding the issue,” he was quoted saying.
All the hullabaloo over that issue has apparently escaped his notice. What has he got to say about Kaseke’s contempt for the flora and fauna set to be destroyed, we would like to know?
Considering that he is the Environment minister, he seems to be strangely distant from the issue.
Meanwhile Kaseke claimed that the wetland would still be preserved as the Chinese contractors were using technology which will do “minimum damage” to the area’s environment.
Oh please! Like that will reassure anyone.
President Mugabe’s customary birthday interview yielded few surprises except for the usual diatribes against the West and the MDC formations. However we took particular note of Mugabe’s abdication of responsibility for any of the challenges that befell Zimbabwe. It was all the West’s fault, we are told.
“Yes, sure, we had that inflation that rendered our Zim dollar worthless but these things happen to economies when they have the burden of sanctions, the burden of bearing lots of debts and so on and so forth,” Mugabe claims.
Ironically he now believes that he can solve Zimbabwe’s economic ills, only if Zanu PF pulls out of the GNU and goes it alone.
“We cannot improve the situation in the GPA very much. That’s why we would want to have an election and we know as Zanu PF government we would certainly bring about a much better situation to the economy in respect of getting capital injection into it,” he said.
Mugabe did not furnish us with the details of how a Zanu PF government would be able to achieve this feat no thanks to the fawning Tazzen Mandizvidza who would nod in approval even before the president began to speak.
“But look at the strides we have made since Independence,” Mugabe declared.
“Look at our people, we have almost eradicated illiteracy and almost everybody can read and write. We have now been able to export skills, you see.”
“Even in Australia, Britain, they are proud to have young Zimbabweans with skills to operate in their factories or in their banks etc.
We enjoyed the bit in the birthday interview about Bona being diligent and Robert Junior not so bright. A Convent parent recalls Bona receiving an award a few years ago for being “the most improved student” –– in Scripture! The applause was “thunderous” as the Herald would say!