Zim paying the price for ‘successful’ land seizures

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We were struck by the Herald’s claim that President Robert Mugabe should be commended for securing food supplies from Zambia and thus averting starvation.

By The MuckRaker

Last week Zimbabwe and Zambia signed a government-to-government agreement for Zimbabwe to import 150 000 tonnes of maize from Zambia. Vice-President Guy Scott signed for Zambia.

Only a government with the people at heart could propose such an arrangement, we were told. If Tendai Biti had been in charge of the deal, the grain would have been sourced by private companies, the Herald claimed.

“The involvement of the government will ensure the grain is distributed to all deserving people fairly without discrimination on party political lines.”

Really, is that the case? We were under the impression that the president’s followers were claiming that he was the fountain of plenty!

“It is clear that the MDC-T wanted to use hunger as a campaign tool in harmonised elections …” the Herald said in a case of turning reality on its head.

But we are missing something important here. Why was Zimbabwe importing food in the first place? Did we not use to be a food exporter? And where are those farmers now? Many of them are in Zambia producing not only for the Zambian home market, but for exports as well to countries that cannot feed themselves.

Zimbabwe is paying for its “successful” land seizures. And the President of Malawi says she would like to emulate Zimbabwe’s example. A case of the blind leading the blind! And you can bet your bottom dollar the Zambians are enjoying a case of schadenfreude!
What of the others?

Among the president’s funny claims were his remarks in Mutare that he would win a beauty contest if he competed against Morgan Tsvangirai. His party lost seats in Manicaland in 2008 because at 84 (then) he was showing wrinkles consistent with his age, Mugabe said.

He had his audience in stitches with that one, the Herald told us.
Then there was the appeal to his subordinates to behave themselves. He was referring to the number of divorces in the upper ranks of the leadership. We felt there were others whose record was less than glowing who he didn’t mention. Not sure why?
Schools galore

A reader has written to complain about unauthorised buildings going up in Marlborough. This follows Muckraker’s column a few weeks ago (“Just say No”) mentioning what looked like blanket approval to change of use in certain areas by the city planning department.

Creches and education institutions seem to be mushrooming everywhere, we said.

“We have the existing Marlborough Junior and High School in our vicinity,” our correspondent says. “Four houses down from us is Angels Nursery School. Across the road from us is Happy Primary School which used to be a nursery school, but has now expanded and become a primary school.

“No notice of their intention has ever been given to us or the fact that they are advertising on their sign outside that they are registered to offer Cambridge International Education Programmes and Qualifications which means they are intending to bring in high school children.

Added to this, Happy Primary School has built a double storey classroom block which looks straight into our yard.

No notice of their intentions has ever been given to us, it has taken away all our privacy. We are going to have children hanging out of windows all day long. It is just not fair to ourselves as residents and has now brought the value of our property down because of this development.

“The road in front of our driveway is totally potholed due to all the traffic including a big school bus and three smaller school buses dropping children off at Happy Primary School and the lorries bringing in the materials to build all their new extensions.

“I could go on and on and feel quite desperate at this stage as it seems as though there are people just doing what they want, most probably because they have people of influence behind them.”
Possible deadlock

Muckraker is keen to hear from the country’s leading parties what steps they have taken to deal with a possible deadlock in the wake of elections.

All the evidence suggests that no one party will secure a majority in either the presidential or parliamentary polls.

The MDC-T threw away its advantage by poor leadership about a year ago. Its leaders didn’t understand what was required to win an election. It woke up late in the day to the fact that its opponents were not playing by the book in regard to the GPA. And to this day the MDC-T has not spelt out its commitment to democracy and the rule of law.

Also absent are the media reforms to which the GPA commits us. What, for instance, is Tafataona Mahoso doing as CEO of the Zimbabwe Media Commission and chair of the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe? What is the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act still doing on our statute books?

The truth of the matter of course is that Zanu PF doesn’t subscribe to the basic freedoms that underline a democratic society. But in that situation, it is fundamental for the challengers to tell the country what they stand for.

Instead, we have been treated to a policy of complacency with Morgan Tsvangirai talking about accommodation and motorcades. His party has allowed Zanu PF to get away with sweeping the GPA requirement for a land audit under the carpet. So the greedy post-liberation aristocracy keep their ill-gotten gains.

Flawed character

However, even the mildest criticism of President Mugabe has led to civic and student leaders being incarcerated, something Sadc should care about. This is not what a democratic society is about.

Editors at this newspaper were detained for suggesting that MDC-T officials had discussed post-election arrangements with army officers, again something that Sadc, as guarantors of the GPA, should be concerned with.

What all this illustrates is the flawed character of the ancien régime and MDC-T’s response to it.

Zimbabwe is not the reformed society political leaders promised in the GPA. And as a result, the election will instead reflect that democratic deficit.

Weird parties

Meanwhile, Muckraker has enjoyed looking at the weird political parties that have suddenly emerged on the front page of the Herald.
Unsurprisingly, they all seem to say they want an end to the GPA and early elections.

Muckraker’s favourites are the Zimbabwe Organised Open Political Party and the Multi-Racial Open Party Christian Democracy. Sounds like something out of the 70s.

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