‘Mkapa attacks ‘silly’ Europe over Zim,” the Sunday Mail declared last Sunday quoting former Tanzanian president Benjamin Mkapa in a dreary and soporific interview.
It was what we call a puff piece, a promotional article without any substance.
The sleep-inducing interview was essentially about countries that are locked into patterns of aid.
In it Mkapa was held up as an example of someone promoting non-dependence.
He self-servingly castigated some African countries, which he said had developed a sickness of depending too much on foreign aid bleating it was very silly for Europe to choose for us who should attend such meetings.
While Mkapa, a former journalist, was pontificating about foreign aid dependence, the irony was not lost on the readers.
Tanzania, like many other African countries, receives foreign aid directed to building infrastructure and fighting poverty.
However, Tanzania is one of the most aid-dependent countries in Africa, receiving more per capita aid and a higher percentage of GDP as a result of foreign aid than other neighbouring countries.
Currently, 33% of government spending is financed by foreign aid.
The largest contributors to Tanzania’s foreign aid are the World Bank, IMF, US, UK, and EU. Additionally, China has started increasing aid projects in Tanzania.
So what is Mkapa talking about? The problems of our countries or the world cannot possibly be solved by sceptics or cynics like him whose horizons are limited to frozen ideological positions or sycophantic camaraderie. We need serious and fresh thinking around these issues, not populist grandstanding or brown-nosing — currying favour with Mugabe by acting in an obsequious way.
Smiling for camera
What was all this about? If we didn’t know better we would say Mkapa was reflecting the position of African leaders.
But former heads of state should understand their colleagues, including Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, who were pleased to attend did not share President Mugabe’s bitterness.
They were happy to have a platform for business and investment.
They did not think their countries should suffer because of Mrs Mugabe’s failure to get a travel visa, possibly for wild shopping sprees.
Have we all forgotten how President Mugabe liked to strut upon the world stage at these shindigs?
By the way, did Munyaradzi Huni fly all the way to Dar-es-Salaam to cajole Mkapa to say Mugabe is still Africa’s hero when he cannot even visit victims of floods in Masvingo and Tsholotsho?
Congratulations to Edmund Kudzayi on his appointment as editor of the Sunday Mail. He replaces Brezhnev Malaba who, we are told, has left to pursue other interests.
He joins from a software and new media company in the UK where he was proprietor and served as head of production design.
Kudzayi is expected to “aggressively expand the Sunday Mail’s presence on the media market”.
We are not sure what publications he has written for, but he describes himself as a media consultant with a strong technical background in software development.
Muckraker tried to check his sosimpledesign.com domain, but couldn’t find much useful detail. Its Facebook page — full of photos, profile pictures and T-shirt designs — was last updated nine months ago.
Let’s hope we missed the correct domain because that sort of work can’t take the Sunday Mail “to a higher level”.
For the record, is Kudzayi the same guy who used to believe Mugabe is a “dictator”, “tyrant” and “human rights violator” who violently stole elections? If he is, at what point and why did he have a damascene moment?
We were told Kudzayi “has also written for various publications”. Which are those publications? Why were they not mentioned? What is he hiding? The open secret that he is the faceless Herald columnist Amai Jukwa?
In defence of media
In the same context it was refreshing to see Information minister Jonathan Moyo defending the press, in this case the Daily News, after a criminal defamation suit had been brought against the paper by an Omani businessman who had made a complaint to the police.
In seminal remarks, Prof Moyo said his ministry reviewed the constitutionality of criminal defamation in terms (of) the new constitution and “concluded there was no legal basis for retaining a law that was against progressive values rooted in the liberation struggle”.
“I hope,” he said, “the reports in question are not true … The reported action is not necessary at all and risks entangling the police in personal matters that are best left to the offended individuals to pursue in the courts through their own resources and on their own through civil litigation.”
“As such we believe we need to align the criminal law code and the constitution by removing criminal defamation from our statutes.”
Moyo raised this issue during his tour of the media houses last year and before that the Independent’s Editor’s Memo column pointed out the colonial relics that remained in current media legislation.
Thanks for that Cde minister. As George Bernard Shaw said, the best reformers the world has ever seen are those who start with themselves!