Nothing could be more emblematic of Zimbabwe’s economic collapse than the withdrawal of Reckitt & Colman from the market.
More recently known as Reckitt & Benckiser, the manufacturers of Dettol and Disprin have been known to a generation of Zimbabweans.
A visit to the pharmacy after Christmas proved disappointing as their products have disappeared from the shelves. They can import their products more economically from South Africa.
Other familiar procucts rapidly disappearing from the shelves including Willards, manufacturers of cereals, Cairns Wines, Nugget shoe polish, and Charhons chocolates.
What this means is that the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (ZimAsset) will be launched in a commercial void. Products known and liked by a generation of consumers who took pride in “We can make it” are now imported.
Part of the explanation is the occupation of farms. Again, familiar brands are disappearing from shelves. Bvumba cheese has not been available for years.
Another change which will be unwelcome to the public is the decision by the Bulawayo City Council to endorse the change of names of streets, hospitals and schools.
The last time this was attempted, by Aeneas Chigwedere in 2002, a public outcry scuppered the proposal. Even the controversial Chenjerai Hunzvi had a school named after him in the proposed changes by Chigwedere.
The latest round of changes will see some popular changes such as Fort St to Mzilikazi, Basch St (Lookout Masuku) and the White City Stadium to Phelendaba. But many of the changes are simply populist opportunism and the citizens of Bulawayo would rather spend their money on better things. Once people see that Ignatius Chombo has a role in the renaming, they will quickly go off the idea, especially when it is linked to the proposal to change the Victoria Falls.
This is universally seen as a bad move, which, like much else Zanu PF has a hand in, does nothing for the country’s reputation.
With Zapu leader Dumiso Dabengwa in the news recently, Muckraker thought it might be time for a trawl through the archives. Eleven years after the conclusion of hostilities, Muckraker has found the proceedings of a 1991 conference at the University of Zimbabwe where Dabengwa made a significant contribution. He accused Zimbabwean historians of “timidity, sectarianism and outright opportunism”.
Calling for a new class of scholars who would withstand threats and intimidation to report the facts, especially purported facts and actions of political leaders, Dabengwa warned that anything less would lead to a nation of sycophants and robots.
Zanu PF claim
Dabengwa’s own contribution to a revision of the standard account was to establish a new date for the start of the guerrilla war. Whereas Zanu PF has always claimed that its Battle of Chinhoyi inaugurated the armed struggle in April 1966, the former guerrilla chief asserted that Zapu’s fighting units engaged Rhodesian security forces on forays into the country as early as 1965, the year UDI was declared.
Dabengwa also provided a vigorous defence against some Zanu-aligned critics of Zapu’s links with the ANC. The Batoka Gorge campaign of August 1967 which saw a joint Zapu/ANC task force of 100 men penetrate northwestern Zimbabwe and the Sipolilo campaign of 1968 led to criticism subsequently that such collaboration invited SADF participation in the war.
Dabengwa argues that the SADF was in fact already active in the defence of Rhodesia by 1967. Pretoria’s strategists reasoned that South Africa’s frontline lay along the Zambezi and that support for Rhodesia would keep the ANC at bay in Zambia.
Zapu facilitated Umkhonto weSizwe’s transit to South Africa in part, Dabengwa suggests, because insurgency in South Africa would draw the SADF back across Limpopo. There was no intention of having ANC guerrillas fight in Zimbabwe.
“The fighting the ANC did in Zimbabwe was rather imposed on them by the Rhodesians and South Africans who attacked them as they sought to pass through to South Africa,” Dabengwa revealed, pointing out that after 1968 the ANC rarely used Zimbabwe as a transit zone yet the SADF remained stationed in the country until Independence in 1980.
Dabengwa concluded on a combative note that it is as relevant now as it was in 1991.
“Unless our scholars can rise above the fear of being isolated and even being isolated for telling the truth, we shall continue to feed on half-truths and naked lies that will not help unite our nation.”
The Herald is triumphant that the MDC-T’s Charlton Hwende has agreed on his Facebook page that sanctions had affected him. He wanted to pay application fees for a “Cde” to study in Europe, but could not find an option to select Zimbabwe.
“Those who reacted to Mr Hwende’s post slammed the MDC-T for inviting sanctions. All the postings were along the line that sanctions are not targeted.
“‘So you see Hwende your unfortunate incident really buttresses our point in Zanu PF that sanctions are not targeted’,” one Tafadzwa Musarara opined. Then we had a ZBC journalist Chris Chivhinge jumping in with “This is how smart the sanctions are”.
He can have my time
We haven’t heard from Chris for a while. The last time was when journalists were invited to a panel discussion at Pockets Hill. Several of us objected when George Charamba was given more time than anybody else.
Chivhinge said this was OK with him. “Cde Charamba can have my time,” he wanted us to know.
Hardly a robust stance!
A strange advert in the Herald this week. Ruvimbo Tobacco Funeral Services (Pvt) Ltd. Muckraker and colleagues couldn’t work that one out. Then it dawned. If they consumed the tobacco, they might well need the funeral service.
Short and Sweet
BUHERA MP Joseph Chinotimba always raises an eyebrow or two, especially through his outbursts which leave audiences either in stitches or shaking their heads in awe.
But just when you thought he had outdone himself, his rant at Monday’s post-budget seminar for parliamentarians proved us wrong.
During a question-and-answer session, Chinotimba wanted to force MDC-T MPs, whom he said did not acknowledge the existence of sanctions, to offer solutions on how they could be revoked. To his dismay, he was told people should not be in the habit of making excuses for all economic failures on sanctions.
The former city council security guard became abrasive before Clerk of Parliament Austin Zvoma intervened saving the seminar from turning into a complete farce.
Though some see Chinotimba’s election into parliament as positive and a breath of fresh air, his clownish antics will surely have them change their minds.
This will also vindicate those who have viewed his election as akin to stripping the august House of its vestiges of decency and dragging it into the bush where the self-styled commander of farm invasions is very much at home.