What is Dabengwa doing in politics?

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The MuckRaker

IT is always cheering on a cold winter’s morning to have a good chuckle. And NewsDay supplied that this week with reports of Zanu PF bigwigs calling each other names. At the same time the Herald carried a headline saying “Experts dismiss draft constitution”.
And who were these “experts”? Jonathan Moyo, Goodwills Masimirembwa, and Lovemore Madhuku. But Paul Mangwana doesn’t think so. He calls them “the devil’s angels”.
Masimirembwa started off as a technical advisor to Mangwana on Copac but seems to have jumped ship.
Now while we can credit Moyo with experience and Madhuku with some expertise on constitutional matters, can the same be said of Masimirembwa?
Mangwana thinks he is a turncoat. We thought Masimirembwa’s main claim to fame was to have brought the country to its knees in 2007 with debilitating price controls which didn’t seem to apply to his chicken farm.
He is currently importuning the good people of Mabvuku whose votes he will be seeking in the general election. He is still struggling to get reinstated on the Law Society’s register of practising lawyers –– without much luck.
His chief complaint on the draft is that the executive president was at the mercy of parliament because the legislature could pass a vote of no confidence in the government and force the president to dissolve parliament if he does not replace ministers.
“If an opposition has a super-majority in parliament and does not like the president it will just pass a vote of no confidence in his government and force him to call for an election.”
Goodness, a president accountable to parliament. Evidently a scary thought for some!

There was a curious picture in the Herald on Monday. Zanu PF secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa was seen signing the visitors’ book at Chinhoyi Prison.
This it turns out was a sentimental visit to the cell where he was incarcerated during the Ian Smith-era. Accompanying him was his wife, Colonel Gertrude Mutasa.
Zanu PF is evidently militarising even wives now. And it was sad that Didymus didn’t pay tribute to Guy Clutton-Brocks for those food parcels that evidently kept him from becoming too emaciated.
He was held for one and a half years without trial we are told. This is obviously a bid to add Didymus’s name to Zanu PF’s iconography ahead of an election. Publicity recently hasn’t been so good.
Readers are invited to sympathise with somebody who hasn’t been exactly sympathetic to the plight of others.
By the way, compare that with the five years Dumiso Dabengwa spent incarcerated by a Zanu PF government despite having been acquitted in the courts on arms charges.

To his credit Mutasa, oft cited in this column for putting his foot in it, was also in the news for the right reasons this week after he rebuked the Zanu PF provincial leadership in Harare for failing to rein in the Mbare gang Chipangano, the Herald reports.
Mutasa spelt out what we have known all along that Chipangano is a Zanu PF-aligned militia group despite provincial chairman Amos Midzi’s feeble protestations that some of them were not under Zanu PF.
“Cde Midzi if you tell me that you don’t know that group, I will tell you that you are lying,” Mutasa said.
“Instead, I want to know what is not ending it.”
Midzi is not alone in peddling the whopper that Chipangano is not part of Zanu PF.
Politburo member, Tendai Savanhu, has also denied any links to Chipangano, saying the militia group was a creation of the MDC-T to tarnish the image of Zanu PF and drag its name in the mud. As if they needed any help in that department.

Munyaradzi Huni did a good job with his Dabengwa interview on Sunday. It’s just a pity some of the answers went begging. For example, Dabengwa complains that he worked hard to get the Law and Order (Maintenance) Act replaced by Posa. The Law Society and other civics were involved in this process he tells us.
“Together we came out with the final document which I presented to parliament and I sweated to get it through parliament and then it went to the president for signing. To this date I don’t know what happened but it never got approved.”
So the current Act is not the one he worked on, he would seem to say.  But despite Huni’s energetic attempts to suggest this smacked of hypocrisy by the civics, Dabengwa would appear to be telling us something different. And his remarks on land were useful for the record.
Land was the reason people went to war, he said. Hence the need for land reform. But he expressed reservations over the manner in which it was implemented saying there was a need to provide infrastructure before people moved onto the land.
Glaringly self-evident to everybody else in the country but not President Mugabe’s loyalists it would seem.

Dabengwa also said he does not want to be recycled since he had already made his contribution to the country during and after the liberation struggle.
Asked if he would consider serving under Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s administration, Dabengwa said: “I have been a government minister for 10 years and for me that’s enough.”
The irony for Dabengwa, who happens to be a leader of an opposition party, is clearly lost. Such a gaffe will not stop him from demanding to be taken seriously, however.
The question which went begging for the interviewer is what then is Dabengwa doing in politics if he feels he has already made his contribution?

We were amused by Huni’s attempts to get Dabengwa to say something nice about Mugabe.
“What would you say are some of President Mugabe’s achievements?” he ventured.
“As a leader in the government,” Dabengwa replied, “certainly there were achievements that were made. But I think unfortunately later on we were made to suffer a setback. He made lots of achievements in education and health.”
Not quite the ringing endorsement Huni was looking for! And then there was “Indigenisation is a mess”.
“The people who go around grabbing other people’s assets without working for them and without knowing exactly how to utilise and make those things productive.”
Indeed, our thoughts exactly.

Nathaniel Manheru appears to think whites don’t read the Herald judging by the venom which he spits at them every week as if they were a monolithic mass. He was particularly vituperative last weekend.
“What is this thing called the Zimbabwean economy? Where is it? Who wields it? Which Zimbabweans own it? I hate anyone who seeks to save their racialised economic privileges in my name, I the underdog. I am no sharer.”
Oh bow-wow. So, if you are not a sharer, you will understand if a growing number of people who are sick of the racist posturing emanating from Manheru don’t want to place their advertising with the Herald?
Manheru, by the way, has little regard for facts. The Nats won power in the 1948 election, not 1949. And “most whites” did not leave South Africa in the depression of the 1930s. A few did.
All these errors and then the cheek to talk about the “burdens of bad history”.

Meanwhile “diesel n’anga”, Rotina Mavhunga, has finally been released after duping Zanu PF politburo members, ministers and top security chiefs into believing she could draw fuel from rocks.
President Mugabe personally chaired meetings to discuss Mavhunga’s claims she could produce pure diesel out of rocks.
Mugabe said after hearing the claims of diesel oozing from rocks, he set up a taskforce, packed with government ministers to investigate. The taskforce included Mutasa, Defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi and Home affairs co-minister Kembo Mohadi.
The team is reported to have camped in Chinhoyi for close to a fortnight, but strangely they did not detect that Mavhunga, with a Grade three education, was a fraud, reports the Standard.
Mugabe later claimed the taskforce had been blinded by Mavhunga’s “beauty”.

Muckraker was intrigued by the Herald headline “EU extends sanctions” published on Tuesday. Surely the lifting of sanctions was a triumph for Zimbabwean diplomacy? But then it dawned.
Zanu PF needs sanctions to project itself, in the archaic language of yesteryear, as a victim of imperialism. So they will ignore the key issue that elections must not be tainted by violence and concentrate instead on the fact that they remain in place.
Then there were Simbarashe Mumbengegwi’s fulminations. He can’t understand why the EU has difficulty taking him seriously.
He moved heaven and earth to get sanctions lifted but now it’s all a “non-event”. The price of failure –– it seems –– is to talk big!

In an unprecedented move the police this week said they had adequate security for civil servants to carry out a demonstration.
As if that was not earth-shattering enough police spokesperson, Chief Inspector James Sabau went on to reassure the business community that the “demonstrations would not be violent since the police would be present to ensure that the running of other businesses will not be disrupted”.
This is a far cry from what the MDC formations have become used to from the police with their rallies banned under one pretext or another.
The eagerness with which the police sanctioned the strike surprised many.
Maybe the fact that the civil servants were to march to Finance minister Tendai Biti’s offices had something to do with it?

The Zimbabwean reports that last week hundreds of women converged at Africa Unity Square protesting the continued arrests and harassment of women on the grounds of loitering, soliciting and prostitution.
Asked to comment on the protests, Sabau said they don’t just arrest everyone, saying they arrest women with the “regalia” meant to lure clients.
“I would love these women to come on wearing the regalia that they will be wearing when they are on the streets. It’s unfortunate when you see them, it’s very different on how they look during the night.”
Was it Zanu PF or MDC regalia these women were wearing Inspector Sabau?

ZBC reports that first lady, “Amai” Grace Mugabe celebrated her 47th birthday with a “low key” event at her children’s home in Mazowe on Monday.
“It was a sweet, sweet surprise for the First Lady when she, during her routine visit to her Mazowe children’s home, was greeted by a sizeable cheering crowd singing happy birthday,” the gushing report stated.
Despite having come for a “routine” visit and feigning surprise, the first lady was clearly dressed for the occasion!

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