Muckraker enjoys watching newly arrived ambassadors presenting their credentials to President Robert Mugabe.
By the MuckRacker
This is often an opportunity for reporters from the state media to pounce on unsuspecting ambassadors who are invited to say how wonderful Zimbabwe is when they’ve just got off the boat and can hardly know a thing about the country.
We recall a newly arrived Japanese ambassador being caught in a media trap at State House some years ago and having to write to the editor of the Herald to say he didn’t say any of the things attributed to him.
A lot in common
This is also an opportunity for some of our colleagues to advertise their geographical shortcomings. Last week we saw the president receiving the ambassador of Papua New Guinea (PNG). She will be based in Pretoria we gather. The ambassador had to go to some lengths to explain she was the representative of Queen Elizabeth. Papua New Guinea is one of several Commonwealth states to retain the Queen as their head of state.
The Herald described PNG, as it is known, as “a small island” in the Pacific.
In fact it shares the rather large island on which it is located with Indonesia. We can’t understand why the PNG government decided to establish relations with Zimbabwe when they have little in common and derive most of their revenues from donors, as the ambassador helpfully pointed out.
On reflection, perhaps they do have something in common!
One man band
Muckraker has in past editions pointed out some of the obscure organisations Zanu PF has set up to counter genuine civic bodies. Advocate Martin Dinha for instance has been prominent in Lawyers for Justice which we can safely assume was set up to counter Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.
What we didn’t know is that there is a move to set up a Zimbabwe Lawyers for Economic Rights and Zimbabwe Revolutionary Lawyers, both we can be sure comprise one man and his dog.
The terrible twins from Bindura University believe such “patriotic” lawyers’ organisations are necessary.
They claim their Herald colleague Rangu Nyamurundira has “earned quite a lot of respect because of his strong stance on the indigenisation and empowerment policies”.
Really? When have you heard anybody going around saying “that young lawyer has stood his ground in defence of people-centred policies?” What tosh!
The names say it all
Speaking of dubious outfits, political parties sympathetic to Zanu PF’s cause have once again emerged from the woodwork. Two of the outfits’ leaders, the curiously named Moreprecision Muzadzi and Kissnot Mukwazhi, are now parroting Zanu PF’s call for early polls.
Silly season is well and truly upon us.
Eating its own tail
The Herald reported last week that Dinha claimed to be the victim of an assassination attempt. Somebody had tried to run him over in Bindura he claimed. His assailant was later arrested.
“It was a calculated attack,” Dinha told the Herald, “that was aimed at intimidating me in campaigning for my party”.
He suspected that his attack was politically motivated as he was at the forefront of campaigning for Zanu PF in Mashonaland Central. Dinha said he would continue preaching a gospel of peace and has withdrawn from the race on personal and professional grounds.
As dense as a brick
We were interested to see from the government’s revised National Housing Policy launched by President Mugabe this week that the emphasis will be on building self-contained human settlements on the periphery of urban centres. Development should now focus on densification, Mugabe said.
He was obviously preaching to the converted.
Densification has been a huge success among the less gifted of his followers. Muckraker can list who these individuals are but there is no need; they are household names, all of them as dense as each other.
Mugabe said he was happy with the revised housing policy facets borrowed from the once popular, “Start paying for your house” scheme.
That rings a bell. This newspaper revealed some prominent folk who took advantage of that scheme.
Notably Morgan Tsvangirai and Giles Mutsekwa were unable to attend the ceremony. Could that be because it appeared to be an election-related shindig that, like all the other populist schemes of this sort, will not last five minutes once the election is over and will actually contribute to urban sprawl?
The kiss of death came when Mugabe announced that the policy should indigenise the housing delivery sector.
Isn’t that the last thing we need? Zimbabwe’s cities have armies of competent planning officers. To what extent were their inputs captured?
Muckraker was intrigued by a Herald report this week that told us among those voluntarily withdrawing from the Zanu PF primaries in Bulawayo was one Cde Peter Baka Nyoni who was contesting against Retired Colonel Tshinga Dube.
Pastor Peter Baka Nyoni, the Herald omitted to tell us, is the husband of Sithembiso Nyoni, Minister of Small and Medium Enterprises Development.
She was in the news in March 2006 when three of her farm’s employees were charged with stocktheft.
The Sunday News carried a story claiming “Stolen cattle found at minister’s farm”.
It said police recovered 14 stolen cattle on the farm owned by the minister. Nyoni objected strongly to the story claiming that “as a senior politician and government minister I am of course the easy target in such machinations”.
Three of the minister’s workers at Fountain Farm were arrested and charged.
The cattle, worth hundreds of millions of (old Zim) dollars, the Sunday News said, were identified by the owner, Robert Bruce Moffat who owned neighbouring Ormseon Farm.
In a letter to the Sunday News, Nyoni said: “It is such a pity that the person who rushed to alert the police to the incident is a neighbour of ours on the farm, a fellow tenant who has over the past three years not made a secret of his hostility to us and our operations on this farm as a family. The local police should have been more careful not to be drawn into this hostile agenda and machinations against me.”
She pointed out that it was her husband and son who manage and oversee the day to day business operations at the farm.
Moffat subsequently complained he had received threats from war veterans in the area to withdraw the charges against Nyoni’s employees. Peter Baka Nyoni said he had never met Moffat and was unaware of threats against him. Perhaps the Sunday News could tell us what happened to its story.
Philip Chiyangwa has the unwitting habit of making claims that boomerang on him. NewsDay reports the aspiring Zanu PF parliamentary candidate for Chinhoyi warned voters to be on the lookout for “crooks who will make promises and do not deliver on them”.
“I don’t make promises, I do things just like President (Robert) Mugabe delivers,” Chiyangwa bellowed at a campaign rally recently, despite not honouring his pledge last April to donate US$1,6 million to the University of Zimbabwe.
Since last year, Chiyangwa has been “exploring” the idea of assisting emerging businesspeople in Mabvuku with collateral.
Added to this, Chiyangwa promised to pay fees for hundreds of Africa University students but nothing came of it and some students failed to write their exams.
“Do you think if I had followed the vision of crooks who just make promises and don’t fulfil them, I would be where I am in life?” Chiyangwa asked
It’s quite possible Cde Chiyangwa!
Error of omission
Finally, we were hugely entertained by Zanu PF’s response to its own incompetence.
The usual “legal and political experts” said specification of the nomination day was “just a descriptive aspect which is of no legal consequence to the nomination date”. Tsvangirai’s argument was based on a clear and genuine typographical error, they said.
So that’s OK then!
PS: Since when have we had “dons” in Zimbabwe?