Thank goodness for Botswana’s President Ian Khama. He is a breath of fresh air.
By The Muck Raker
Every time Zanu PF puffs itself up into a big bubble of self-importance, he comes along and bursts it.
He was at it again in Maputo last weekend. While President Robert Mugabe was reportedly keeping other heads of state waiting while he had a tête-à-tête with Namibia’s President, Hifikepunye Pohamba, Khama, a retired general close to Zanu PF leaders, took the opportunity to comment on Zimbabwe’s securocrats.
He asked why people were still talking endlessly about a “bush war” that ended 33 years ago.
It is easy to answer that. Mugabe is able to project himself as the authentic voice of African nationalism. It may not be a valid claim 33 years after Independence, but it makes him feel good.
Mugabe went on and on about history before Khama came in.
“Khama asked why people were still talking about a bush war that ended 33 years ago,” an observer said. “He pointed out that when the liberation war was fought it was not against the MDCs.”
Such nostalgic rhetoric was misplaced, the observer said, reflecting a general sentiment back home.
MDC-T secretary-general Tendai Biti reported after the meeting that the summit had “underscored the obligation of our security chiefs to respect the constitution and issued a statement complying with Article 208 of the new constitution which speaks to the neutrality of our security forces, that they cannot be active members of any political party and that they will respect, salute and obey any legitimate constitutional order”.
Not exactly what the Herald has been telling us in its damage control exercise!
Poor King Arthur
Observers in Maputo were full of praise for the man from Wales. He dazzled the meeting with his magisterial command of the issues. When the MDC-T officials emerged they were generous in their praise. And poor King Arthur was confined to the leader pages of the local Izvestia, which sadly nobody reads!
Meanwhile, we were shocked to see police recruits openly declaring their allegiance to Mugabe. They wished him a “resounding success” in the forthcoming elections.
“We celebrate your life and leadership as you are the practical definition of a revolutionary cadre,” they chirruped. “Your call for Pan-Africanism should invigorate other African leaders to be united and support each other …”
This was a far cry from Maputo where heads of state demonstrated impatience with Mugabe’s blandishments. And are any of those present at Morris Depot aware of how many votes the Zanu PF-supported PAC got in the 1994 South African election? It was the smallest amount for any party.
There followed a funny little drama, we were told, in which two fighters wearing British and US outfits engaged in combat with a third party purporting to be Mugabe. He put up a spirited fight before a sympathiser, Russia, came in to assist and vanquish the Westerners. After the victory “children” were served with milk representing the milk and honey of Mugabe’s rule. No, seriously!
Ushers wore Zanu PF regalia. Observers say that senior officers could be seen waving their fists in the air as the recruits pledged their allegiance to their commander.
The newly launched Southern Eye has been carrying an interesting range of letters in its feedback column.
On Monday a correspondent made the obvious point in response to a story titled Hell for gays if Zanu PF wins. This followed Zanu PF’s promise of new persecutions if it wins the election.
The correspondent said: “Mugabe should concentrate more on uplifting Zimbabweans suffering from the harsh economic conditions which he and his party gave rise to and deal with the massive corruption in the Zimbabwean economy.”
This is all true, but we shouldn’t forget just how much Zanu PF and its allies among the Biblical bigots just love persecuting people.
The Sunday Mail carried a story last weekend about a snake handler who had passed his skill down through the generations. His father was a snake handler as was his grandfather. His experience had made him the local expert on the reptiles, the story said. He was confident his understudies would be successful.
“I know that they will do well,” he said. “Abraham is a natural leader while Amos is a fearless handler who can tackle and subdue the most aggressive of snakes.”
How interesting. Here is a family that has put in place a succession plan; a simple family that has taken steps to secure its future. But what do we have at the national level? A dysfunctional political party that can’t even take the first tentative steps towards passing on the baton.
However, let’s be fair. We do know of some snakes in the grass which carry a particularly lethal poison, but do not belong to the same family.
We were interested to see a picture in the Sunday Mail of Zimpapers group chief executive Justin Mutasa chatting with Dr Nyaradzo Mtizira at the launch of his book, The Regime Change Agenda — Focus on Zimbabwe, authored by the Botswana-based medical practitioner.
The book focuses on the country’s socio-economic revolution and the West’s “rabid attempt to protect its interests in resource-rich Zimbabwe through local Trojan horses”.
Strange, we haven’t heard of the doctor or his interest in regime change. And we thought the Trojan horse was Greek! He seems to have come out of the election woodwork.
Here is another expatriate who prefers the comfortable life abroad to the growing dereliction at home wrought by his friends in Zanu PF. We wonder if he knows Reason who just can’t tear himself away from Australia!
Did we hear Mugabe saying some years ago he would not appoint as ministers individuals who had not been elected to parliament? Well, he said it again, if Muckraker heard right, just the other day. That would be a good question to ask the president at a press conference: “Do you recall the undertaking you made …?”
Some of the perennial losers that have expressed an interest in taking part in the election,” Southern Eye reports, “are Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, Absolom Sikhosana and Joseph Tshuma.”
Our question is: how many times are they allowed to lose and still be taken seriously? Sikhanyiso: that one’s for you.
A note to Huni
And a note to our friend Munyaradzi Huni. If Sir Ketumile Masire carried a knighthood, then his wife would be Lady Masire and not Mrs Masire. And while it is good to see Botswana and Zimbabwe getting on so well, have we forgotten so quickly how fraught relations were when Tsvangirai was staying in Gaborone in 2008? And then wasn’t there something about a transmitter relay station at Fransistown? Has that gone away?
While it is not the function of journalists to stir things up, they shouldn’t at least be so naïve. We are sure our Botswana expert Cde Caesar agrees with us on this!
Another example of naïvety was evident from Baffour Ankomah, editor of New African, a mouthpiece for Mugabe. Andrew Young, the magazine reported, “had confirmed the White House’s official remorse to President Mugabe admitting that the US had been wrong in supporting Britain in the dispute with Britain over land reform”.
Really? It is true that Young has in the past adopted a pro-Zanu PF position in his dealing with the Zimbabwe authorities. But it is extremely doubtful that he would have expressed the White House’s “official remorse”. In fact, we have a pretty good idea where that came from. The same official who facilitated Young’s visit.
Matter of fact
Last week we carried a snippet claiming the Hartley Platinum Mine road just outside Chegutu cost US$15 million to construct. The acting chair of Zimplats Holdings Ltd, the Zimplats parent company, said he would like to set the record straight “for the benefit of numerous faithful readers of the popular Muckraker column”.
The Ngezi-Mhondoro highway is in fact 77km long and the cost was US$19 million in 2001, he said. We stand corrected.