Media minister Jonathan Moyo’s comments on police action over Press Freedom Day have been widely welcomed in press and civic circles.
“On the one day when the national media is along with its peers around the globe commemorating World Press Freedom Day,” Moyo said in a statement, “it cannot be right that patently unconstitutional action is cynically used as an enforcement of law and order.”
He was referring to the eleventh hour cancellation of the official 2014 commemoration march which had been planned by a number of media organisations to mark press freedom day.
“This much is known,” Moyo commented, “Something is wrong somewhere.”
His ministry would liaise with Unesco to reschedule the event, he said.
What we are missing here of course is identification of those responsible for the sudden cancellation which violates the law.
Moyo said the cancellation was based on opaque reasons that were manifestly “neither in the public nor national interest”.
“What is important to understand by all stakeholders, especially the ZRP,” he said, “is that with the advent of the new constitution which came into full effect upon the inauguration of His Excellency President Robert Mugabe on 22 August 2013, freedom of the media in Zimbabwe is now a constitutional matter and nobody has the right or option to ignore this fundamental reality of our national jurisprudence.”
We should note that this episode follows claims of criminal defamation against the media which are also unconstitutional.
There are clearly elements in our security system that are unreconciled to the changes that were introduced last year. The media should be vigilant in publicising these violations and not let them pass unremarked.
Last week we had reactionary elements in the Immigration department clumsily deporting participants in the Hifa concluding show which attracted large numbers of foreign visitors, as well as locals.
Immigration officials we are told, were keen to communicate their importance to Maria Wilson, Hifa executive director who was on the receiving end of this bombast.
While Zimbabwean officials may have objected to previous performances by South African outfit FreshlyGround, their deportation of the performers will be widely reported and damaging to this country’s reputation.
This is typical of our official behaviour. Here we have a hugely popular festival attracting hundreds of performers, some of whom are evicted because they don’t possess the correct piece of paper. The impact on revenue flows will also have been prejudicial. This was a spiteful move which will discourage bands from coming here in future.
It will be interesting to see how the state’s showcase “carnival” fares by way of comparison. Don’t hold your breath. These are the same people who brought us an aborted Brazilian carnival last year and seem to think the success of the Rio parade can be replicated in First Street!
By the time you read this, South Africans will have been to the polls to elect or re-elect a president and MPs.
Commentator and former editor Barney Mthombothi says South Africa has failed to live up to the great promise of 1994. Transformation has turned into greed, he says.
“The dishonesty at the top is percolating through society,” Mthombothi notes.
“Instead of democracy, we have an incompetent, corrupt and shameless kleptocracy.
“Looting is the only skill the ruling cabal seems to possess in spades. It is for instance difficult to talk about Jacob Zuma without a mention of Nkandla. It will remain a signature achievement of his administration. No wonder he is reluctant to run on his own record.
“As for the claim by the ANC that they have ‘a good story to tell’, tell that to the widows of Marikana.”
Reform and reap
Zimbabwe Prisons Service boss Paradzai Zimondi has appealed to NGOs and the corporate sector to assist the prisons authority with funds to rehabilitate prisoners.
We need to be sympathetic here. Prisoners should be helped with skills training and other attributes. But Cde Zimondi, we also need a professional and non-partisan prison service, including a healthy diet. Put that in place and NGOs might be willing to help.
Another field where professionalism is urgently needed is the ZRP.
This week we had the extraordinary prospect of the Commissioner–General of police, “Cde” Augustine Chihuri enjoining police officers to draw inspiration from the dictates of our motherland’s history as they carry out their policing duties and always take guidance from the incisive words of Karl Marx when he said: “Men make their own history but do not make it just as they please, they do not make it under circumstances chosen by themselves but under circumstances directly encountered, given and transmitted from the past.”
It would be interesting what the graduands at Ntabazinduna made of this redundant posturing.
Zimbabwe along with the rest of the modern world abandoned Karl Marx precisely because his teachings were irrelevant to the modern age. Somebody will need to put the young graduands straight once Chihuri has finished with them.
You know things are bad when the Herald has only a handful of countries in Europe to report their congratulations on Zimbabwe’s Independence Day.
One such country was Belarus, an ex-Soviet state ruled with an iron fist by Alexander Lukashenko, who was generous in his praise of Zimbabwe.
Don’t worry if you haven’t heard of him. Most people haven’t except at election time when he secures for himself a 99% outcome.
But what clearly annoyed the powers here was the American and British messages which avoided any mention of the government of Zimbabwe, but instead congratulated the Zimbabwean people.
Why should anyone object to that?