So Zimbabwe’s much-touted carnival has concluded amid extravagant claims unmatched by actual performance.
While not wanting to rain on anybody’s parade, this was an event thrown together by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) in the hope that it would attract the same degree of support as the samba parade in Brazil.
It didn’t. In fact, it was a very poor imitation of the Rio carnival which sees intense competition by the various samba clubs and a large number of colourful — often minimal — costumes which attract visitors from around the world.
The samba girls (and boys) didn’t turn up after the ZTA was unable to raise the fee the Brazilians were asking. Then there was the rain on the opening night that caused rescheduling. Understandably, the ZTA didn’t want their parade to be rained off!
It finally came together on Saturday with a parade through the city that caused traffic chaos. Many businesses had to close for the day. Only 24 hours’ notice was given for the parade.
The Egyptians and Ethiopians drew the most enthusiasm, the Ethiopians for their dance moves.
Zimbabwe’s Bev and the Sexy Angels were also a hit. But that was about all.
The whole idea, we gather, originated after a visit to the Seychelles by ZTA boss Karikoga Kaseke. Why can’t we do that here, he must have thought to himself? So a carnival was thrown together (minus the drawcard, the Brazilians) which it was hoped would dazzle the nation and pull in foreign punters.
It didn’t work. The Brazilian show is huge, well-organised and rooted in a certain tradition. We don’t have that.
We are not likely to have it either when Brazilians see the bigoted remarks of our leaders which are antithetical to the whole samba spirit of tolerance and fun.
Such festivals are common in many countries, the Herald told us. Yes, but you have to understand the thinking behind such events, not just try to copy them.
“A carnival celebration is a great way to showcase a country’s cultural heritage,” the Herald said.
We wonder what heritage visitors saw in downtown Harare as they paraded through the capital en route to the showgrounds. You have to have more than a Miss Heritage contest to support the event!
Kaseke should let us know if he was satisfied with the proceedings. The ZTA takes a significant levy from private-sector tourism business. But it does what it likes with the money.
It never fails to entertain us how President Robert Mugabe goes about creating turmoil where there is none.
South African media recently reported Mugabe saying that Nelson Mandela had gone too far in trying to please whites. “They will praise you only if you do things that please them,” he told TV interviewer Dali Tambo.
We suppose whites were being pleased when their farms and homesteads were being expropriated?
Officially launching the Marange-Zimunya Community Share Ownership Trust last year, he said: “Some among us are siding with the whites. If you side with them and fail to realise that you are being used, then you are a fool.”
This was his view just a few months ahead of signing the new constitution into law that guarantees human rights and freedom of expression to all. We have a suspicion that Mugabe’s vitriol stems from Mandela’s remark in 2008 that Mugabe’s rule was “a tragic failure of leadership”.
Then, of course, there were Mandela’s remarks against military support to the DRC. Mugabe said those countries who wanted to stay out were free to do so, but should not criticise those favouring military intervention.
Mandela’s inclusive view of citizenship and his view that people from all backgrounds had the same rights were diametrically opposed to Mugabe’s narrow and exclusivist view of governance.
We had another example of executive bluster last week when Nathaniel Manheru said the constitution-making exercise was “one huge display of thoughtful sterility by a schismatic middle-class vying for political advantage and office, all in the name of the people, democracy and good governance.
Really, so that’s what it is?
“Cheered on of course by Western capitals which once bitten now twice push for a supreme law that kowtows to their interests and their pursuits in Zimbabwe.
“Supreme of course to you and me, the governed; supine to them once decoyed as investors, donors and Friends of Zimbabwe, the last summing up an enforced endearment whose embrace nearly suffocates us.”
So, on the one hand, the ancien régime disowns and holds in contempt the document it took so long to draft and which contains the liberal values other countries in the region espouse, or the document it claims to own and which it salutes as its own in the referendum outcome. So what’s it to be? A constitution Zanu PF affects to own or one it tells its supporters belongs to someone else?
Still with the new order, Zanu PF has declared CIO boss Elias Kanengoni a national hero. So, what is his qualification for this illustrious status?
Kanengoni is one of two officers who attempted to kill Patrick Kombayi in Gweru in the 1990 election.
This is heroism Zanu PF style. It shoots its opponents — or occasionally it burns them.
Doesn’t that say it all?
Listening to politicians explaining why they lost is not very edifying. We saw a report in the Daily News of Indigenisation minister Saviour Kasukuwere in Lewisam, Harare East, explaining his party’s failure in 2008.
“I have been listening to your grievances, but I must say they are a result of voting for the wrong people. And wrong party.”
This is extraordinary. Insulting voters by telling them they made a mistake. So what mistake did they make in Mt Darwin in 2000 and 2005? It is one basic rule of politics: Never tell voters they are wrong. Kasukuwere will probably learn this the hard way. Voters are always right — even when they are wrong!
Zim not India
We were surprised to see the Indian ambassador Jeitendra Tripathi commending Zimbabwe’s indigenisation and empowerment programme. This was an essential step for development in the country, he said.
He did say there should be caution and clarity in implementation of the policy. He also said that India in the 1970s embarked on similar programmes and nationalised banks to ensure local people benefited from loans.
But should the Indian ambassador be commenting at all on Zimbabwe’s domestic policies? This is entirely a matter for Zimbabweans. And we are doubtful that Zimbabwe would benefit from bank nationalisation, especially when failed bankers are heading the empowerment programme. India subsequently reversed its bank seizures. Tripathi should himself act with caution. The biggest political party in the country has promised to reverse the programme if it gets into office.
Then we have the case of the Indian High Commissioner in South Africa who, it appears, was giving instructions to South African officials at Waterkloof airforce base. That episode involved a whole plane-load of Guptas en route to Sun City for a wedding. There were ministers on board, the South Africans were told. But nobody actually saw them!
Under the circumstances you would expect India’s ambassador here to be keeping his head down for a while!
Meanwhile, the Herald on Monday launched a poisonous attack on Education minister David Coltart. The paper claimed that he had abused the Education Transition Fund (ETF) which has been running since 2009 and is funded by donors. Coltart has been setting up parallel structures in a bid to divert money to finance his cash-strapped MDC party’s activities, the Herald claimed.
The Herald says it has seen documents that reveal the fund was detached from government to avoid scrutiny and that an office was established in Bulawayo to administer the fund.
Coltart dismissed the allegations as false. The ETF was administered by Unicef in Harare, he said. There is no Bulawayo office.
“The ETF is a fund by donors coming from EU countries. I chair the fund, but it is managed by Unicef in Harare,” he said. “Not a single cent comes to government that I can use personally.”
The whole article, Coltart said, was “ridiculous propaganda based on blatant falsehoods”. In fact, the whole article was untrue, he said. There were no parallel structures and at every point the ministry was involved. In fact, the permanent secretary chaired the implementation committee, he said.
What is interesting about this is that Zanu PF seems to have a full-time smearing operation underway directed at Coltart who is one of the more successful ministers in government.
Needless to say, no one believes the lies emanating from the Herald. At one time they accused Coltart of being a Selous Scout, something that proved easy to rebut. But they persisted with the lie.
The Herald’s political reporter Hebert Zharare should tell us who fed him this tissue of lies. Who manufactures these falsehoods? Here is another example of the abuse of the public media.