Muckracker: Herald’s attempt to deceive gets no takers

The tears cascaded down his cheeks as he held aloft the full-size portrait of President Mugabe in earlier times.The portrait was inscribed “Man of the Moment”.
“I was overcome by emotion,” Mzembi confessed. “I did not expect this. It is monumental. At times I fail to explain to the ordinary person how it feels to serve under a first republican president. That is why I could not hold back my tears.”
How truly pathetic!  Here is a minister who every day sits in his office beneath a portrait of the president but bursts into tears when presented with a similar picture.  It was presented by an outfit called Friends of Joshua Trust, whatever that is.
Vice-President Joice Mujuru who presided at the ceremony received a portrait of Mbuya Nehanda. It is not known if she was tearful.  But she still appears to be labouring under the impression that Nehanda was hanged at the so-called hanging tree in Tongogara Ave. In fact that is a well-worn myth. Nehanda was executed at the Market Square jail.
But never mind. We won’t let the facts, in this case at least, get in the way of a good story.


Another minister choosing to perform patriotic stunts recently was Mines and Mining Development minister Obert Mpofu who has urged government to release all jailed illegal gold panners and declare them national heroes in honour of their “immense contribution to the national economy”. This episode provides a good example of the routine misgovernance that Zimbabweans have to deal with.
Mpofu, NewsDay reports, made these remarks in the presence of President Mugabe at Colleen Bawn mine last week.
“The term makorokoza (illegal gold panners) should be banished because they contribute gold to the country. They are actually national heroes,” Mpofu said.
This is noteworthy. The illegal gold panners are responsible for the systematic degradation of the environment. That includes the pollution of major rivers, siltation of dams, and widespread use of poisons such as cyanide. And here is a minister presiding over this irreversible destruction in the presence of the president.
Mpofu is responsible for administering the Mines and Mining Development Act. He recently hiked fees for all manner of things in the mining sector.
But the gold panners operate without licences causing extensive damage to the environment and depriving the government of revenue. So how do we explain this dereliction of duty? Very simply. It is election-related.
We reported a few months ago on the destruction of wetlands in the vicinity of the Chinese-built national sports stadium where a hotel complex –– also Chinese-built –– is going up. Visiting heads of state had been encouraged to adopt a tree in the area in earlier times. That legacy is rapidly vanishing.


Archbishop Nolbert Kunonga was again in the news last week calling on President Robert Mugabe to ignore the new constitution currently being drafted and instead dissolve Cabinet and call for elections.
Speaking at a Press conference held at his church offices, Kunonga said an election and not a constitutional referendum was necessary.
NewsDay reports that Kunonga also claimed there was “some kind of demon” that was driving the constitution-making process.
“When you look at parliament, the president has been pruned of all power and it is the same with all commissions. It is like a political agenda and we do not want that in our constitution. The powers of the president are eroded against the wishes of the people,” Kunonga said.
Who are the “we” you are refer ring to Archbishop? Clearly it cannot be the people of Zimbabwe who have clearly expressed their displeasure at the unchecked powers of the ruling regime for 32 years. Is it not the same people who gave Mugabe and Zanu PF a red card in March 2008 before they were coerced to ensure his “landslide victory”?
Anyway has President Mugabe not made it clear that the clergy should not interfere in politics? It seems they conveniently make exception to the likes of Kunonga and “Reverend” Obadiah Msindo.


Shockingly the Ministry of Information had phoned media houses announcing Kunonga’s press conference.  It seems they busy themselves with organising Mickey Mouse press conferences while defying directives to institute media reforms. Media minister Webster Shamu defied a cabinet directive to regularise the appointment of the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe board.
He also ignored a letter from Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai in November 2009 ordering him to dissolve the Mahoso-led board.
Despite such blatant insolence, Shamu was recently threatening that “gloves may soon be off” against the private media and journalists if they persist with an “anti-African and anti-Zimbabwe frenzy”.

Last week we ran a story in which the cash-strapped Bulawayo City Council is proposing to slash workers’ salaries by 20% to service a loan used to purchase luxury vehicles for senior officials after a local bank threatened to attach some of its buildings.
A report by the council’s finance committee shows that the council wanted salaries cut to enable it to repay a US$4,5 million bank loan used to buy 20 top-of-the range vehicles for managers. Among the vehicles purchased were a Land Rover for town clerk Middleton Nyoni, a Toyota Prado for the housing director Isaiah Magagula and a Toyota Fortuner for finance director Kempton Ndimande.
This is failure of governance at its worst. How can they demand that rank and file employees tighten already taut belts for something they were not even beneficiaries of?
It speaks volumes of the culture of spending and selfishness that has gripped all sectors of government.  Why buy such expensive cars without the money to bankroll them?


‘MDC-T threatens to unleash violence,” the Herald told us on its front page on Monday. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to work that one out. There on the same page was news of the arrival of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navanethem Pillay. What is amusing about this is the thought that the UN Commissioner was likely to fall for the suggestion that it was the MDC-T that would unleash violence if it won the proposed election. Not likely is it?
What is the reality? What has been the pattern to date, in 2008 for instance? What happened to Jestina Mukoko? Or worse still, Tonderai Ndira?
There was much talk of Zimbabwe having “nothing to hide”. Which raises the obvious question, why then do they attempt to hide so much? Pillay is a former South African high court judge. South African judges have been subject to systematic abuse in the Zimbabwe state media in recent weeks, largely because they have upheld appeals by dispossessed Zimbabwean farmers seeking compensation.
What Zanu PF doesn’t understand is that the courts in a democracy have a duty to support applicants the government doesn’t like as well as those they do. The fate of the Sadc tribunal illustrates this point. A rights-based culture is one that protects all.


‘When I got off the plane at Harare airport I was pleased to see the opposite of what I had known. I met very good people, very happy people and Zimbabwe is very beautiful and attractive.”
You would expect this sort of naivety from a finalist in a beauty contest. It is called “Giving a hostage to fortune”, and it came from of all people, the US ambassador, Charles Ray.
“What you see on CNN is not true,” he declared as he prepares  to depart. This sounds like an epiphany of some sort!
He said he had found Zimbabwe “fascinating”.  “You can do elephant riding if you are daring”.
So we are glad he found something useful to do! We welcome his successor Bruce Wharton who will be an experienced observer of the Zimbabwean scene having been stationed here in the early-2000s. He should “sail through”, as we say in Zimbabwe, his senate hearings.  Not likely to be any naivety there. And no need for the bullet-proof limos he was obliged to use in Guatemala.


So what was said at that now famous meeting at Bulawayo Airport last weekend?
We have what was reported in the Standard from Enos Nkala about Mugabe being tired and wanting to retire. But Nkala appears to have thought better of that statement and told Business Day a different story.
“From what we discussed, Mr Mugabe said he was tired and wants to retire but he cannot do so now because Zanu PF would die,” Nkala was reported as saying. “He cannot leave when the party is in such a state. What is holding him now is managing and containing Zanu PF to prevent it from disintegrating.”
Realising the potential damage of that statement and anxious not to blot his copybook with the president just as they were about to mend fences, Nkala told Business Day: “Mr Mugabe wanted me to tell him how to win back Matabeleland because Zanu PF has done badly in Matabeleland in the past decade.”
Business Day reported that highly placed sources told the newspaper that Mugabe had sought to enlist help from the veteran nationalist on how to claw his way back into the three Matabeleland provinces. It is also entirely plausible that Mugabe confessed to being tired but unable to go. This is not the first report of that nature.
Nkala is a bit of a maverick and would relish the role of being recognised as co-founder of Zanu after the role he played in the August 1963 coup.
But it must be said, the last thing the people of Matabeleland want is having Enos Nkala foisted upon them. It would be entirely counter-productive. How many people can recall, we wonder, the treatment he got at his brother’s funeral many years ago?


We were amused by the MDC-99’s vociferous denial of any association with Aaron Muzungu, their former spokesman who was arrested on allegations that he stole a brand new Ford Ranger T6 vehicle that was on display at the Harare Sports Club.
The Herald states that Muzungu allegedly gate-crashed the launch event hosted by Croco Motors started the engine and drove for more than 1 300km over the next eight days before the police caught up with him.
The MDC99 had expelled him for “bringing the name of the party into disrepute”, we were told.
“We urge the public to ignore any statements issued by Muzungu on behalf of the party,” they said. “We do not associate ourselves with fraudulent activities.”
If we may digress, what happened to the promised 66-day hunger strike the MDC-99  had threatened to conduct “until Mugabe is gone”? They all got hungry it seems.


Finally it seems that it is not only President Robert Mugabe and Ugandan dictator Idi Amin with the propensity for outrageously long titles. Of course Amin takes the cake for his self-given title: “His Excellency President for Life, Field Marshal Al Hadji Doctor Idi Amin, VC, DSO, MC, Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Sea, and Conqueror of the British Empire in Africa in General and Uganda in Particular.”
Malawian President, Joyce Banda, has joined the fray with an equally lengthy title. She has come up with a mouthful: “Her Excellency the State President and Commander in-Chief of the Malawi Defence Force and Malawi Police Service, Minister responsible for the Public Service, Statutory Corporations, Civil Service Administration, National Relief and Disaster Management and Nutrition and HIV/ Aids.”
And this after only a few months in office!