WE were intrigued by a report in NewsDay that President Mugabe is angered by news stories that portray him in bad light. Media, Information and Publicity minister Webster Shamu conveyed this information to editors who had been summoned to Munhumutapa Building to receive a tongue-lashing.
The president was unhappy, we gather, with negative stories about him and the high level of intrusion into the lives of government leaders.
Shamu claimed that most of the cabinet were in agreement with Mugabe.
Of course they were. Do they ever disagree with him? “It’s unAfrican to show that level of disrespect to our leaders,” Shamu claimed. “I wonder what would have happened if you were together with us during the liberation struggle.”
Did he mean “together with us” at Rhodesia Broadcasting Corporation?
Anyway, it’s Shamu who needs the tongue-lashing. Mugabe is not only head of state, he is head of government and first secretary of Zanu PF. That means he determines policy for the country and can therefore expect a good measure of political combat. We always thought he relished that role. Apparently not.
As for Shamu, what does he think he was doing rushing to the defence of a local businessman? Did the businessman complain to the Daily News before seeking the protection of the minister?
Did he make use of the VMCZ? And the editors, except one or two guys, did not emerge smelling of roses from this. Why did they indulge Shamu’s remonstrations? Are we such a supine mob that we sit in pathetic silence while a government minister castigates us?
None of this is appropriate behaviour. Editors, be advised. The next time you get a “summons” from Shamu, tell him where to put it!
So, it is not the end of sanctions after all. In fact for some people sanctions will only just be beginning as, we hear, new names may be added to the list. The Herald, lifting a Daily Telegraph story, last week reported that sanctions were about to go.
What is notable for us is the fact that the state media continues to claim sanctions were “imposed at the instigation of Britain which was angered by Zimbabwe’s land reform programme that ensured equitable distribution of land”.
That is a downright lie. Sanctions were imposed two years after land reform by the EU because of political violence and the expulsion of the EU observer mission headed by Pierre Schori.
As they imposed the sanctions in February 2002, EU Foreign ministers issued a statement which read: “The EU remains seriously concerned at political violence, serious violations of human rights and restrictions on the media… which call into question the prospects for a free and fair election.”
It is shocking that Zanu PF wants sanctions lifted while known criminals remain at large. The state media must learn that you cannot continue to tell tall stories about why sanctions were imposed and then complain when nobody believes them.
Where for instance is Joseph Mwale? The public have the right to know what happened to Tichaona Chiminya and Talent Mabika.
Something else the public should know is that food relief being exported to Zimbabwe comes from Zimbabwean farmers who relocated to Zambia following the seizure of their farms. One prominent farmer who was driven off his farm in Karoi is now producing maize that is exported to Zimbabwe, the Sunday Times reports.
His success in the neighbouring country is seen as a slap in the face for the government, it says. “Sources say instructions have been issued thatnames of suppliers on the bags of maize should be removed before food aid is given out.”
The public obviously can’t be told that Zimbabwe’s commercial farmers are keeping Zimbabwe afloat from their farms in Zambia. Zanu PF is clearly blind to the irony evident here.
The president told the AU this week that sanctions must be removed before elections.
The EU and UN Human Rights Commissioner insist that electoral reform must precede any election. It will be interesting to see which view prevails.
Where are the material changes Catherine Ashton spoke of in Brussels? It’s rather difficult to see them.
What we do know is that Zimbabwe is heading for a general election and we all know which generals want to be elected!
Mugabe tried to rope in the AU into his now shrill calls for the repeal of the “illegal” sanctions.
He said while Sadc has done its best in calling for the removal of the sanctions, Europe and the United States have been “relentless” in keeping them.
This is despite Mugabe’s regime being equally relentless in its bid to narrow the democratic space back home. MDC-T secretary-general and Finance minister, Tendai Biti, got a feel of how relentless Zanu PF and its surrogates are to deny them their right to assemble.
The Standard reports that soldiers and hundreds of Zanu PF militia forced Biti to hold a rally in a graveyard instead of at the Darwendale Stadium at which they were due to hold it.
This was after soldiers blocked MDC-T supporters from gathering at the local grounds as scheduled, occupying the venue for several hours playing social soccer.
According to Biti (remember his recent Sunday Mail interview), hundreds of Zanu PF militia were bused-in to intimidate them and as he was addressing the rally, the militias went on to burn grass around the area they were gathered in to scare people away.
Yet Zanu PF has the temerity to claim the sanctions are unjustified when they continue to commit abuses that brought about the sanctions in the first place.
Meanwhile the Sunday Mail claimed a “bruising battle” was in the offing since the Registrar of the General Court of the EU has served the Council of the European Union and the European Commission with papers to respond to the case in which attorney-general Johannes Tomana and 120 others are suing the European bloc over sanctions.
“The loins have been girded; we are ready for battle,” Tomana said. “The EU will sweat over how they can defend themselves because we stand on solid ground,” exclaimed Tomana who appears to think he is in some Shakespearian play!
“We have been handed the green light to throw these illegal sanctions right into the face of the EU,” he said.
Farai Mutamangira, a member of the legal team handling the lawsuit, said: “These developments at the court mean the EU will struggle to come up with a position and put up a plausible defence of the case. The reality is that they are likely to react by repealing the sanctions because they are not in a position to put up a plausible defence.”
Tomana and company will need to gird their loins even tighter since a spokesperson for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, this week quashed any chance of lifting sanctions on Mugabe or anyone involved in continued human rights abuses.
“There is no question of lifting sanctions against Mugabe or anyone involved in continued abuses of human rights, incitement to violence — that is simply not up for discussion,” the official said.
The Herald reports that food shortages at St Augustine’s Mission, mainly attributed to fights within the Anglican Church, will force the school to close two weeks earlier than usual.
St Augustine’s is among the schools taken over in Manicaland province by Archbishop Nolbert Kunonga’s followers which also include St David’s Bonda, St Faith’s and St Anne’s Goto High Schools.
Elson Jakazi, Kunonga’s right hand man in Manicaland, has been accused of interfering with the operations at these schools, while demanding large levies to finance his activities.
The Herald quotes Jakazi saying if the situation did not improve the school would have to be closed any time from Tuesday this week as opposed to the designated date of August 1.
“We are saying fees should be increased to reasonable levels,” Jakazi said. “The US$333 was not enough considering the needs and challenges the school is facing.
“So, the school board after realising that the funds cannot cater for the whole term decided that the school has to be closed and children sent back to their homes,” he said.
Jakazi said the school relied on donations, but funding had since stopped and the school infrastructure was in a “deplorable” state.
It is probably the sanctions’ fault!
Jakazi went on to accuse parents who are complaining over the fee hikes of politicising the issue.
Clearly whatever these “holy” men touch turns to dust. This is a clear example of trying to “indigenise” schools as advocated by Indigenisation minister Saviour Kasukuwere.
We were amused by Nigerian MP Patrick Obahiagbon, who would give local politicians a good run for their money as far as the lexicon goes, in an interview with Nigerian state broadcaster NTA:
Q: So how has your experience in the state assembly prepared you for the challenges of the national assembly?
Obahiagbon: That opportunity has assisted me colossally in dotting the parliamentary “I’s” and crossing the legislative “T’s” and has put me in good speed for the due discharge of my parliamentary onnus probandi.
Q: Is that why you have been a vibrant member of this national assembly as it were?
Obahiagbon: Partly yes. Partly yes. It is terra firma for me and not terra incognita. It is familiar to me and once you were seized of the nuances of parliamentary discourse and disco bolus it follows therefore that it will be familiar to you too, partly…but again, partly it is equally responsible…, for the fact that you cannot succeed as a parliamentarian if you are not cosmopolitan. You must be prepared to immerse yourself in societal dialectics for you to be able to contribute efficaciously in a utilitarian modus.
Q: Does it really bother you whether the people get to understand what you say because of that big grammar?
Obahiagbon: Well, let me say that I have been maniacally bewildered, in the words of Peter Pan, “overghasted and flabberwhelmed” when I am confronted by people as to what they stigmatise as my verbabodical dimosophy gyrations.
A classic case of verbal diarrhoea!
Next, a few items from the Herald. One was a picture of somebody called Ephraim Guvamombe looking very much like Isdore Guvamombe, even to the extent of the hat worn at a jaunty angle, who we were told would be contributing articles on wildlife.
Ephraim is a Lower Six student at Mushumbe High School, Guruve. We wish him well in his career as a Herald scribe. But he must understand that articles should be in his own words and not plagiarised from a website. (See www.animalstown.com/animals/h/hyena/hyena.html.)
Then there was Permanent Secretary for Agriculture Ngoni Masoka who said it was “baffling” why agro-industrial companies were reluctant to fund the production of horticultural crops.
This follows “the realisation”, the Herald tells us, that the country’s horticultural industry has been in free fall over the last decade, in the main due to lack of funding.
Oh, so that was the reason was it Cde Masoka? In his own words: “Our agriculture cannot compete against the likes of Zambia and Malawi because their governments have supported the farmers.”
Also of course Zambia and Malawi don’t unleash thugs onto farms to destroy the life’s work of farmers!
Masoka omitted that detail.
Finally we read that the FAO had honoured Joseph Made for his contribution to food security and fighting hunger. Are they unaware of his helicopter trips that ended in miscalculations?
Or the grain that had to be imported because of Zimbabwe’s disastrous agricultural policies?
How can the FAO insult a nation’s collective intelligence with awards of this sort?