Some of the nation’s most important political luminaries have failed to pay their Zesa bills, the newspaper reports, and come up with feeble excuses.
The newspaper cites a few examples: At the end of last year Goromonzi North MP Paddy Zhanda owed Zesa in excess of US$174 000; Zanu PF provincial chairman Amos Midzi owed US$34 057; MP for Zvimba East and President Mugabe’s nephew, Patrick Zhuwao, had a bill which ran to US$54 407; Indigenisation firebrand Saviour Kasukuwere owed US$100 602; Higher Education minister Stan Mudenge ran up a US$9 478 bill.
Manicaland governor Chris Mushowe had a bill of US$367 606; CIO boss Happyton Bonyongwe came second in the province with a bill for US$350 989; while DidymusMutasa owed the utility US$179 590, the Daily News reports.
What is interesting about these revelations is that they include the usual nationalist zealots who blame all the nation’s problems on sanctions. Mutasa immediately comes to mind.
He once referred to the sanctions as the “highest form of economic terrorism against the people of Zimbabwe”.
Paralysing Zesa by not paying your bills comes very close to that, Cde Mutasa.
Local Government minister, Ignatius Chombo, has warned the electorate against voting for MDC-T councillors in the anticipated harmonised elections as they have “destroyed most urban local authorities through looting council resources for personal aggrandisement”.
Speaking after a Zanu PF District Coordinating Committee meeting in Chitungwiza, Chombo said government will not hesitate to fire councillors and council officials found guilty of corruption or abuse of resources as it seeks to “protect” the electorate.
“The levels of corruption in these local authorities are alarming,” Chombo said.
If long-suffering residents only have Chombo to look up to for protection, then there is reason to despair indeed.
Chombo’s property-sharing wrangle with his estranged wife, Marian, has helped shed some light on the even more alarming amounts of properties he owns.
According to the Herald, Marian claimed properties that included two Glen View houses, two flats in Queensdale, a property in Katanga Township, four Norton business stands, three Chinhoyi business stands, four Banket business stands, one commercial stand in Epworth, two residential stands in Chirundu, four commercial stands in Kariba, one stand in Ruwa, one stand in Chinhoyi, two stands in Mutare, two stands in Binga, four stands in Victoria Falls, one stand in Zvimba Rural, two residential and two commercial stands in Chitungwiza and four stands in Beitbridge.
The list goes on: 20 stands in Crow Hill Road, Borrowdale, 10 stands in Glen Lorne, two flats at Eastview Gardens, one flat at San Sebastian Flats in the Avenues, one house in Milton Park, two houses in Chegutu, two houses in Victoria Falls, and three stands in Bulawayo among others.
Due to space constraints, the list cannot be reproduced in its entirety. We really wonder whether all these acquisitions came from the minister’s salary. If this list is not alarming, we don’t know what is!
At the same event Zanu PF politburo member, Tendai Savanhu also chipped in saying that most MDC-T led local authorities were not prioritising service delivery and the electorate should draw lessons from the “mistakes” made in the 2008 harmonised elections.
“The mistakes made by our people in 2008 are there for all to see,” said Savanhu.
We couldn’t agree more Cde Savanhu. The people can see for themselves how an arrogant cabal continues to amass for itself ridiculous swathes of land and properties, whilst the majority remain without decent housing.
The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) has added its voice to the condemnation of the conviction of University of Zimbabwe lecturer, Munyaradzi Gwisai, on the charge of “conspiracy to incite public violence with a view to overthrowing the unity government”.
According to the ICJ, there are two main concerns in this case: “Firstly that all the six accused persons reported that they had been tortured while in police custody and kept in prison for 27 days before being granted bail under stringent conditions.”
“This treatment did not only violate the constitution of Zimbabwe regarding the right to the presumption of innocence and a fair trial, liberty and freedom from torture, it also violated international human rights guarantees enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment,” the ICJ states.
“Secondly, the arrest and prosecution of citizens freely and peacefully gathered to share civic information violated their rights to the freedom of assembly and association, thought, conscience and to hold opinions, either alone or in community with others and in public or private such as in a seminar setting in which Mr Gwisai and his fellow accused were involved.
“Other rights violated in this case include the right to information and freedom of expression as well as their right to take part in the affairs of their government.” the ICJ goes on to state.
Alex Duval Smith (UK Independent) seems to have stirred a hornet’s nest with her article on how President Mugabe’s popularity has “surged”. He has wrong-footed the MDC, she argues, by launching the indigenisation crusade.
Once gain Mugabe looks like the country’s best defender, she writes.
Saviour Kasukuwere is hauled in to confirm this wonky interpretation. But it doesn’t really wash.
It is true that Morgan Tsvangirai has sometimes been asleep on the job since 2008, failing to make the most of opportunities coming his way.
But as his speech in London last weekend demonstrates, he has a clear idea of what a principled politician with a vision for Africa should sound like. And Mugabe certainly hasn’t enhanced agriculture –– rather he has decimated it –– and his party may soon discover that indigenisation hasn’t the same electoral appeal as occupying other people’s property.
“In power for 32 years,” Smith writes, “Mugabe has suddenly in the eyes of many Zimbabweans regained the revolutionary credentials he earned fighting white rule in the 1970s.”
Really? Do Zimbabweans want to revert to that period or the bloody mayhem that followed in the mid-80s? Smith argues that Mugabe has called for elections because he has sensed his new-found popularity.
She doesn’t mention the resurgence of violence and electoral manipulation that is now returning to the political landscape. Nor does she mention the media crack-down that, while depriving Zimbabweans of their right to free expression, abuses the public media for partisan gain.
What needs to be said in Smith’s narrative is that since 2008 Zimbabweans have watched and noted as their liberties have been eroded one by one. Arbitrary arrests and incarceration have confirmed the growing impression of Zimbabwe as a police state. Most notably the Global Political Agreement, intended as a democratic blueprint, has been trampled on, something a journalist like Smith should be concerned with.
It would be helpful the next time she ventures out of her Johannesburg encampment if she could speak to a few journalists.
Still on the subject of a police state, the public may be unaware of just how easy it is to commit an offence under Zimbabwe’s draconian laws. We have the Sunday News to thank for publishing a list of “offences” the public may stumble upon under the Miscellaneous Offences Act of 2002.
According to the Act, any person who is caught doing the below-listed offences shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding three months or to both such fine and such imprisonment.
The offences include wantonly or mischievously ringing any bell, making any noise or disturbance or playing any musical instrument or wireless in a public place.
It is also illegal to wantonly or mischievously knock at doors or remove any property from any place or give a false alarm of fire.
Wantonly provoking any animal as well as riding any animal on any pavement could also attract a fine or jail term.
According to the Act, it is also illegal to shout or scream in a public place to the annoyance of the public.
Added to this, skating in or upon any street, road, thoroughfare, sidewalk or pavement, or commiting any nuisance in any street within view of any dwelling whereby public decency may be offended will also attract liability.
We thought we would bring to public attention just how comprehensive and unforgiving this legislation is. And it would appear to clash with rights set out in the Bill of Rights.
Meanwhile the Sunday Mail reports that Chief Luscious (No, seriously) Chitsinde Negomo has said that his court will attach Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s property at his Strathaven home, in Harare, after the premier defied an order to pay a fine for allegedly marrying in November, a month the chief deemed to be sacred.
Tsvangirai was fined two head of cattle, two sheep, a 10-metre cloth and a ball of snuff for paying the bride price for Locadia Karimatsenga Tembo on November 22 last year.
We found Chief Negomo sentiments on the premier amusing. Tsvangirai had acted out of stubbornness, the chief muses, but remained a “child under the guidance of a chief”.
Is the “guidance” imposed, we wonder. Clearly the premier does not seem to have solicited this guidance which also now entails confiscation of his property.
Poor old Morgan. It never rains for him but it pours.
South Africa’s e-tv has been screening a news clip showing his arrival in Germany recently. The message was: Brush up on the protocol.
Morgan seemed to be in a hurry. After the honour-guard welcome he bowed in the wrong direction, had to be guided where he should go next and then lined up for the welcoming address in front of the wrong flag.
In fairness we should point out that the colours are similar to ours but the design is very different. He then squeezed Merkel’s hand so tightly that she had to pull herself free.
Both Merkel and Morgan smiled throughout this faux pas but the episode provided fodder for the networks.
Message from Muckraker to Morgan: Our flag has a red star on its “fly” so it is fairly easy to spot, especially when there is only one other. And there’s no need to charge ahead like a bull in a china shop. Slower is better!