It must be the daftest claim of the post-elections era. The Herald’s Isdore Guvamombe would have us believe the death of the elephants in Hwange National Park was “sanctions-induced”.
This conclusion was reached after “week-long investigations” at the national park, we are told.
In fact their death was due to cyanide poisoning by poachers who have actually been convicted. It was a tragedy but it certainly wasn’t sanctions. Insufficient vehicles were supplied to the National Parks department as if donors had a duty to supply the vehicles.
What about the dozens of vehicles supplied to MPs and ministers after the elections? Couldn’t any of those have been allocated to National Parks?
“Prior to the imposition of the West’s illegal economic sanctions, the National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority had a proud history of effective management, underpinned by an elaborate National Conservation Strategy, introduced by Government in the mid-1980s,” Guvamombe declared.
We are keen to ask Cde Guvamombe if the sanctions were also behind the indiscriminate cutting down of trees and killing of wildlife which have become the norm in this country, epitomised by the jambanja land grab-spree which commenced in 2000.
The invasion of the Save Conservancy by Zanu PF officials and army commanders who engaged in an orgy of wildlife hunting and tree cutting is but one example of Zanu PF-inspired environmental destruction.
Where then do the sanctions come in?
Tired blame game
In the past the National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority could also bank on the proceeds from the tourism sector. However, no thanks to Zanu PF’s North Korea-style policies Zimbabwe earned itself the infamous pariah status.
Despite the valiant efforts of the likes of Walter Mzembi to once again return Zimbabwe on the tourism map, President Mugabe continues to throw spanners in the works with his threats of “tit-for-tat” penalties against Western countries.
What we are seeing here is the blame game in which government finds convenient excuses for its prodigality and poor management. Expect to see similar explanations in agriculture.
Zambia to the rescue
Local output will continue to decline but luckily the commercial farmers who relocated to Zambia will come to the rescue and prevent starvation. Conditions in Matabeleland North are already dire. But that is not Zanu PF’s heartland.
Zanu PF’s propaganda department is attempting to suggest that the elections outcome was a return to the natural pattern of things as they were before 2000.
In fact the natural pattern of things was the steady erosion in Zanu PF’s support from 2000 to the present. Zimbabweans wanted change.
They were cajoled and coerced in the July election. As Zanu PF fumbles the ball in the months ahead, watch out for more lame explanations. There is nothing natural about their failed performance.
Joining the bandwagon
It seems Lovemore Madhuku will finally make good on his threat to finally step down from the helm of the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA).
The Herald on Tuesday reported that Madhuku will relinquish his chairmanship of the NCA and launch a political party which will be “pan-African in outlook” in December.
Madhuku’s cosying with the status quo, however, has raised eyebrows on whether his envisaged political party is not another Zanu PF pet project.
This is particularly after Nathaniel Manheru, of all people, encouraged Madhuku to join the political fray following the constitutional referendum last year.
“His (Madhuku) NCA lost the referendum vote dismally,” Manheru had said. “But it won a numerical validation to what it had surmised all along, namely that there is room for a viable third party, outside Zanu PF and the two MDCs.”
And of late Madhuku has become the state media’s talking head of choice, since he now sings from the same hymn sheet as Zanu PF after his volte-face on the West.
“We have said that we have nothing to do with the West and we respect the liberation struggle. Our party would be nationalist and pan-Africanist,” Madhuku told the Herald.
It would be sad to see Madhuku descend into a mere Zanu PF praise-singer and become another Gabriel Chaibva or Kissnot Mukwazhe.
We hope he proves us wrong.
Holding the line
President Jacob Zuma has urged South African journalists to be good patriots. He said during a recent visit to Mexico that the media in that country did not report on crime because it would discourage investment.
“We market Mexico and we can’t market Mexico negatively,” he was told by Mexico’s business sector.
This was reported by Imraan Buccus, a research fellow at the University of KwaZulu Natal, in the Sunday Times.
Mexico is one of the worst places in the world to be a journalist, he noted. South African journalists were appalled that Zuma could hold up the country as an example of a “patriotic media” that does not cover crime.
“The idea that the Mexican situation in which journalists often turn up dead if they write about corruption in Mexico’s elite, could be held up as an example for us to emulate is deeply shocking,” Buccus wrote.
“No credible democrat would want to live in a society in which intimidation –– and sometimes even murder –– is routinely used to restrict media freedom,” he declared.
“Political authoritarianism is rapidly escalating and we need to do all that we can to hold the line against the advance of a political culture rooted in demagoguery, thuggery, and intimidation.”
A real commitment to freedom is, as the great political theorist Rosa Luxemburg famously demanded, always based on the commitment to the freedom of the one who thinks differently.
Needless to say, that principle was nowhere in evidence at the meeting of information authorities and the media in Harare last Friday. Instead, journalists were told to uphold the values of the liberation war.
It is interesting to note that those who are always most vocal in demanding respect for those values played little or no part in the liberation war and have been busy recently attempting to hijack the struggles legacy for partisan control agendas.
We would be keen to know how many of the people present at the long Munhumutapa Building meeting have ever heard of Rosa Luxemburg.
Anyway, let’s give the new authorities a chance.
Another own goal
Finally Muckraker understands that a top-level Austrian medical charity has been in the country ascertaining Zimbabwe’s needs. These include labs, x-ray machines and wheel-chairs.
Having done their assessment they approached senior government officials with an offer. Thanks but no thanks, they were told. You’re too late. We’re already in talks with the Chinese. And as everybody knows the Chinese are generous donors!
The delegation moved on to Mozambique where they were warmly received. The South African newspapers have been full of reports recently of how Mozambique has forged ahead with development schemes.
“Mozambique has morphed from being a basket case ravaged by civil war into one of the world’s most rapidly expanding economies,” the Sunday Times reported. Growth is expected to average 8% a year between 2012 and 2016.
“Until 10 years ago when the country emerged from two successive wars, Mozambique was virtually living in the dark ages and electrification stood at only 5%,” the newspaper commented.
“Today, about 24% of the country has access to electricity and demand is on the increase as growth continues.”
“Mozambique has actively engaged in a strategy to attract foreign investment and implement economic reforms,” the Sunday Times reported. “Although the country still has many challenges, it becomes clear as one drives past the Mozal aluminium smelter and billboards and bridges splashed with adverts from Vodacom, FNB, MTN, and others that Mozambique is increasingly being viewed as an attractive market.”
Compare that with what is happening in its next door neighbour.