President Mugabe was welcoming Mantashe to a regional meeting of former liberation movements. Mugabe had hoped the ANC would help him deal with the South African judiciary which has proved persistent in pursuing Zimbabwean human rights offenders. South Africa would abide by the rule of law, he was told.
It may be recalled that the last time he was here, Mantashe promised assistance to Zanu PF’s election campaign. He got into so much trouble with that pledge, which was immediately dropped on his return, that he clearly decided to keep his mouth closed on this visit and to avoid too much in the way of smiles and hugs.
Hence a rather severe looking Mantashe who has taken a tip from Thabo Mbeki who mastered the art of being slippery when finding himself locked in a presidential embrace. Mbeki used to do a funny little dance to escape.
Anyway, we would be intrigued to know what came out of the liberation movements’ deliberations. Not a lot we gather. None of them want to be too closely associated with a rogue party. Ask Mrs Banda! And by the way, what is Botswana’s status? One minute the BDP was in with the comrades, according to the Herald, the next it was out.
We loved the Zapiro cartoon of Ludwick Mamabolo winning the Comrades Marathon in Durban. “At last a comrade we can be proud of,” the caption read.
It was interesting to hear that the president is not only active in office but hard-working at home as well. He is up at 5am, according to a puff-piece on Grace Mugabe appearing in the Sunday Mail and Herald and clearly designed for election purposes.
“It is my husband who gets up out of bed first,” the First Lady relates. “Obviously because he is the man of the house he has to open the doors for workers to come in. He does that every day. I do not have to get up. He wakes up at around 5 o’clock and wakes the children up,” she says.
“I always tell him that he is spoiling them, they are grown-ups. I am telling you,” Grace says, “he will go to their rooms, knock on the door, enter, wake them up, run the tap for them.”
The president is also punctilious in attending gym. He does his exercises religiously, we are told.
The Mugabe household is very quiet. Mum is quiet, Dad is quiet and the kids are quiet. But there is obviously the occasional chastisement. “Spare the rod and spoil the child,” Grace believes.
Grace represents herself as “a very humble person who likes to dress well”.
But on the “alleged” shopping sprees, she said: “They will say that because if they can’t get at (President) Mugabe they have to find a soft spot to get at him.” But she is not as soft as people think, she says.
On the upcoming elections: “I think with the ways things are at the moment and if what I hear is true, our party (Zanu PF) stands a better chance.”
Better than what, we wonder?
Asked about the 2008 election campaign she said it was her duty as a Zimbabwean “to rally the nation against Western aggression”.
The country was almost overrun by “the enemy”, she declared in her Sunday Mail interview.
“So I decided I could not watch things take the direction that had not been anticipated and I had to play my part as a citizen of this country. Of course a lot of people said a lot of things putting words into my mouth.”
Grace reminds us that she and her husband have been empowered through the land reform programme. They have about 2 000 head of cattle and the second largest dairy in the region with advanced milking equipment. There is also the Grace Mugabe Orphanage and primary school funded by a US$7 million grant she sourced from the Chinese government.
She rebuts reports that there was a flourishing orchard when they dispossessed the elderly couple who lived there at Iron Mask Farm. “There was nothing, absolutely nothing. The oranges that are there today are the ones I planted four years ago.”
It was useful to have this on the record. Here is the public media being used as a platform for President Mugabe’s election campaign. Headings such as “The president is my best friend” and “President still fit says First Lady” tell the story, although we found the heading “Man-Woman Iron Lady” a tad curious. The Iron Lady is of course the title of a film launched recently on the career of Margaret Thatcher!
The Mugabes will soon be adding value to their milk products, we gather, so they can “make a little bit more money for ourselves and of course the workers”. That will be an opportunity for the purchasing public to make decisions about what products they want to buy.
We would have also wanted to know of the progress in the payment of the reportedly more than US$345 000 the Mugabes owe Zesa since business seems to be going so well.
For those with short memories, Grace in 2008 went to Shamva where huts had been burnt and denounced Morgan Tsvangirai saying he would never be allowed to set foot in State House.
“Even if people vote for the MDC, Morgan Tsvangirai will never set foot inside State House,” she said. “He will only hear what it looks like inside from people who have been there. Even if Baba loses, he will only leave State House to make way for someone from Zanu PF.”
Nobody put that in her mouth!
Leaving that aside, has anybody ever asked Zanu PF and political militarists why they are bothering with elections if they don’t intend to respect the outcome? That is surely the question we all should be asking the president and his followers? Isn’t it the antithesis of democracy?
And abusing South African judges, calling them “Boers”, does nothing for Zimbabwe’s reputation, nor South Africa’s as Mantashe has obviously realised.
President Mugabe said the time is now ripe for the holding of elections as the propaganda onslaught sponsored by Britain has continued with the “pirate” radio stations.
ZBC reports that Mugabe said though the Global Political Agreement clearly states the need to stop hate speech, pirate radio stations continue to “assault” Zanu PF.
“The British government decided to create through its Westminster Foundation the MDC, he said.
“Subsequently, the British went on to fund an explosion of print and electronic media, all to assault Zanu PF. This is against the principles of the GPA,” Mugabe said.
The only “pirate” broadcaster we see is ZBC which masquerades as a public broadcaster while pandering to the whims of Zanu PF. They continue to demand the outrageously exorbitant US$50 licence fee despite the ubiquitous satellite dishes, testimony to viewers’ revulsion at their programming.
Clearly very few, if any, still watch ZBC and for them to continue to reap where they do not sow is tantamount to extortion. ZBC are the real pirates!
‘Renowned human rights activist and former United States Congressman, Reverend Jesse Jackson has commended the Head of State and Government and Commander in Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, President Robert Mugabe for spearheading economic empowerment programmes, saying equitable distribution of resources is fundamental in addressing poverty,” ZBC crowed last Sunday.
These sentiments were reportedly expressed during an impromptu meeting with Zimbabwe’s head of delegation to the just-ended 2012 KP Intersessional meeting in Washington DC, Mines and Mining Development minister, Obert Mpofu.
The word “renowned” was continuously used in the report in describing the civil rights leader.
Reverend Jackson “spoke highly” of President Mugabe, we are told, stressing that equitable distribution of resources is critical in addressing poverty as well as social inequalities and expressed his support for the land redistribution exercise.
This would be an about-turn on the reverend’s part considering his previous views on Mugabe were far from flattering.
Speaking on CNN in 2008, Jackson described Mugabe as a “heresy to democracy”. This was after Mugabe defied international pressure to cancel a run-off election marred by allegations of intimidation and the withdrawal of his opponent.
“Well, he was a hero,” Jackson said.
“Now, he’s kind of a heresy to democracy. That’s why the AU and others must step up their diplomatic initiatives, one, to get humanitarian relief back into Zimbabwe; two, to get a free press back in to talk to both leaders about some kind of reconciliation.
“The opposition withdrawal today is really a way of saying they cannot take the heat of violence. And so the people there deserve an open, free and fair democracy. And we must somehow reconcile these two extremes. We cannot, as it were, leave Zimbabweans suffering in isolation,” Jackson had said.
He wasn’t so “renowned” then in ZBC circles, we are sure!
The Michael Sata “comedy” show was in London last week and Zambian Foreign Affairs minister Given Lubinda was at pains to defend his boss’s sycophancy to bemused Zimbabweans living in the United Kingdom.
“President Sata must be commended and not condemned for the role he is playing in bringing democracy back to Zimbabwe,” claims Lubinda.
“Mr Sata has a special gift of calling a spade a spade, which is the only way to proceed right now as Sadc tries to find a lasting solution to political problems in that country,” he said.
We would rather pass up on Cde Sata’s “special gift”, thank you very much Given.
He also said the level of engagement between Sata and his Zimbabwean counterpart is a “healthy and productive one”, which will eventually result in the democratisation of Zimbabwe for the benefit of Zimbabweans.
We tend to agree with Zimbabwe Vigil coordinator Dumi Tutani who said Sata should take a cue from his previous job before he joined politics.
“Mr Sata used to sweep the floors clean (at Victoria Station) and we want him to clean his mouth when he talks about Zimbabwe,” Tutani said.
“We will not stop until he changes and starts respecting Zimbabwean people.”