Muckracker: Heroes, criminals at national shrine

Anyone thinking President Robert Mugabe might be contemplating the possibility of nation-building in what is widely regarded as his final term of office will have been smartly disabused by his remarks at the National Heroes Acre last Saturday during the funeral of Kumbirai Kangai.

By Muckracker

He said the national shrine was the preserve of Zanu PF members only.

“They want their zvitototo (daft people) buried here,” he said. “We say no. The only people we will bring here are the clean ones, heroes of heroes.”

These are not the words of a leader seeking reconciliation and national unity as their legacy. As Douglas Mwonzora put it, “Heroes Acre is not a place for Zanu PF members only. It is a place for Zimbabwe’s heroes; so anybody who qualifies must be buried there.

“But Mugabe is just in a quarrelsome mood,” he added, “because of the stress of running a country without a plan.”

Dumping ground MDC deputy spokesman Karauone Chihwayi agreed. He described Mugabe’s remarks as “misleading and irresponsible”.

“Heroes Acre has been turned into a dumping ground for both genuine heroes and criminals or people with a tainted past,” he said. “Hence the need for a thorough cleansing of the shrine.”

It would be useful to communicate Mugabe’s remarks to Sadc heads of state so they can see how partisan our politics have become after elections. This is in part their doing. There is no attempt here to bring people together as the GPA intended. Just a rigid emphasis on benefits for party members.

But who can, in all seriousness, regard Border Gezi or Chenjerai Hunzvi as a hero?

Willowgate erased

It was interesting following Mugabe’s remarks at Enos Nkala’s funeral to see how the Gukurahundi and Willowgate scandal has been completely airbrushed from our history.

So what can we conclude? That somebody like Hunzvi is Zanu PF’s hero? Or that holding an election in accordance with Sadc principles is a waste of time because one of the contestants is not interested in adhering to basic democratic norms, manipulates voter registration and makes a mockery of the new constitution? That remains the case.

And just to confirm that point, we have a captive state media that is as rabid and crudely unprofessional as it was before the elections and is locked in a Jurassic form of nationalism that damages the country’s reputation and prospects.

Sadc leaders should be held accountable for this travesty of electoral process. They would never adopt anything like, for example, our scorched-earth land policy in their own countries while congratulating Zanu PF on pursuing such policies in ours.

‘Generally credible’

It is amazing how one little word can change our view of things. In this case we refer to Sadc’s electoral observer mission (SEOM) which said that the election of July 31 was “generally credible”.

The word “generally” at a stroke runs a coach and horses through Zanu PF’s loud declarations of an unadulterated victory.

“The provision of (a) voters’ roll in time goes to the very heart of fairness in the election process,” SEOM leader Bernard Membe said, as quoted in the Daily News and other media. “If the voters’ roll is not made available on time, the fairness of the election is brought into question. This is because voters’ rolls are public documents and it is the duty of the electoral commission to abide by the … Electoral Act.”

The MDC, however, describes as misleading the report’s attempt to compare the extent of bias by the state media. The report was also silent, the MDC says, “on many other irregularities such as chaotic voter registration, the shambolic special vote exercise, fake voter slips, bussing of voters, high number of assisted voters …”.

‘Pirate media’

What we in the independent media would draw attention to was the dubious habit of copying Zanu PF in referring to the private and foreign radio stations as “pirate media”. Membe should be asked to explain why SEOM couldn’t think for itself in this regard. And we need to make the obvious point that so long as the state media remain Zanu PF propaganda mouthpieces, we will continue to need private broadcasters.

Just because the electronic voters’ roll was not an issue in Tanzania, it doesn’t mean it can be swept under the carpet in Zimbabwe. Membe appears to think sanctions are an agency for winning elections. He doesn’t get it. In fact, they were a response to political violence and electoral manipulation in previous elections.

If Zimbabweans are in any doubt as to where SEOM’s sympathies lie, they should take note of this from the Herald: “Mr Membe said President Mugabe won the July 31 elections with flying colours and urged opposition parties to accept defeat. He said Zanu PF did its homework in the past five years, leading to its resounding victory.”

What jobs?

Muckraker was interested in a headline in Wednesday’s Herald which declared “Govt geared to tackle unemployment, create jobs”.

How would they do this, we wonder? Surely, you need investment to create business and generate wealth before you can tackle unemployment?

The Herald’s story was aimed at youths. You can be sure that given Zanu PF’s damaging policies, the party will fail to rescue youths from the quagmire of desperation and failure.

What jobs in particular is the government able to generate? Don’t we recall Marange being touted as the economic panacea? What happened there?

Perhaps we should ask Thabo Mbeki. He is holding up Zanu PF as the way to go. Land reform in Zimbabwe has given land to at least 300 000-400 000 new landowners, he told an audience at Unisa.

“The programme succeeded and has the direct benefit of the huge number of Zimbabweans.”

He doesn’t say what benefit. He asks the question: “Why is Zimbabwe such a major issue for some people?” He cites the interest of the New York Times and Guardian.

That is easy to answer. Zimbabwe is of abiding interest because observers are shocked that such a wealthy and successful country could have been brought to its knees in such a short passage of time by an incompetent and corrupt regime.

President Robert Mugabe’s persistent misrule and his hostility to his own citizens is intriguing for many.

Mbeki’s myth

Mbeki was unable to tell us exactly what achievement he can show for the death and destruction that took place from 2000 to the present. The benefit Mbeki speaks of has certainly not filtered down to ordinary folk. That’s why Zimbabwe is still importing maize from Zambia.

What is land if it is not put to use? He must come here and see it for himself rather than rely on sponsored books.

As for Africa holding up Zimbabwe as an example to be followed, this is a myth which Zanu PF likes to peddle. There was a handful of leaders at the inauguration.

But where were most Sadc leaders, former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo and other West African leaders?

Indeed, where was the much-vaunted Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta?

Short and Sweet …

Malema at it again

Julius Malema has been back in the news this week over the disposal of his assets. Complaining about press treatment, he said: “I want the people of South Africa to treat me the same way they treated Nelson Mandela.

Comedienne Evita Bezuidenhout was quick to respond: “What a great idea. Let’s start with 27 years in jail.”

Take a time out!

Finally it seems not many people picked up former Zambian president Kenneth Kaunda’s suggestion to President Robert Mugabe that it was time he wrote his memoirs.

KK knows all about these things after peacefully calling time on his political career after 27 years in power.

We hope his friend took the hint!

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