This has been an interesting couple of weeks for journalists — and for journalism itself.
The death of veteran nationalist Nathan Shamuyarira has focused attention on growing fissures within ruling party Zanu PF.
President Robert Mugabe, in a bout of hostility towards certain editors, appears in particular to have been harbouring a long-standing resentment towards his Information minister Jonathan Moyo who is accused of using his powerful position to appoint editors who he alleges were once MDC supporters.
Moyo has had a previous run-in with Mugabe in 2004 over the Dinyane episode in which Moyo appeared to advance the cause of Emmerson Mnangagwa when Joice Mujuru had been anointed as the preferred choice in the echelons of power.
In that instance a fax machine delivered the bad news as it passed through the fingers of delighted hotel staff and security personnel before it reached the recipient.
In those days Moyo was not the most popular man in Zimbabwe. He lost his seat a few months later.
Today the situation couldn’t be more different. Moyo has rebuilt bridges with the media community and underlined the importance of constitutional governance in his tour of newsrooms after the 2013 election. That doesn’t mean he has abandoned the path of ambition, which is what brought him to the present dilemma.
Mugabe’s tirade must have come as a shock to him as to most of us in the media community. But did he deserve this slapping down when his loyalty to Mugabe was undeniable?
He just happened to pursue his interests with greater subtlety and skill. Compare his political management to Didymus Mutasa who seems to think contraception is a bad thing.
So when Mugabe accuses Moyo of “deceiving simple people”, there will be many out there asking exactly who it is who is deceiving simple people?
Mugabe’s description of internal critics as weevils is in bad taste as is Mutasa’s reference to Gamatox, a poison used in farming.
How many recall Mugabe’s 83rd birthday assault on Joice Mujuru which struck down any ambitions she may have been harbouring? And how Ibbo Mandaza was accused of aiding and abetting her because he had written the foreword to Edgar Tekere’s biography which had been sceptical of the Mozambique adventure .
“The Tekere/Mandaza issue, ah they are trying to campaign for Mujuru using the book . . . you can’t become a president by using a biography. Manje vairasa (they have lost the plot). They don’t realise they have done her more harm than good,” said Mugabe in the interview.
Zimbabwean politics is a nest of vipers and those who want to avoid being bitten need to keep their heads down.
Shamuyarira was supposed to be writing a biography of Mugabe after 2000.
We are not sure what happened to that magnum opus except to say it obviously never got written! Muckraker’s guess is that there was a presidential intervention which put the project to rest.
Shamuyarira died a pauper, something that needs mention. He had none of the material wealth of his colleagues. Like many intellectuals, he had no taste for the dolce vita.
He was instrumental in setting up the Zimbabwe Mass Media Trust in the early 1980s. It was supposed to be a buffer between government and the papers it owned. But it soon became open to manipulation in the hands of ministers, including Shamuyarira.
We liked the Herald report that government had “unearthed irregularities” in the allocation of farms during the land reform programme.
This comes as news to the Herald but not anybody else. The whole country knows that the land reform programme was riddled with corruption and greed but it still plays as a front page story in the Herald.
Amazing! Some children as old as 10 benefited from the programme, we are told. Next we will be told children as old as 10 were appointed cabinet ministers.
“It has also been noted that the land reform programme was marred with double allocations of farms due to a mix-up of names.” No, really? There were mix-ups?
One multiple farm owner is the head of state. We hope lands officials can spell Robert, Grace and Gushungo.
And here is the real stunner: “Lands and Resettlement minister Dr Douglas Mombeshora told the Herald that a preliminary audit done by his ministry revealed that “some undeserving people” benefited. Undeserving? Surely not? What sort of people were these?
“There have been concerns over underutilisation of land and leasing of farms resulting in some discrediting government’s noble programme,” the Herald reports after speaking to the minister.
Again, who were the “some”?
Obviously, not so noble anymore? And then there was Kondozi.
It must be really shocking to the entire Zimbabwean populace to learn from the MDC Renewal Team that Morgan Tsvangirai unilaterally joined the Government of National Unity without consulting the MDC-T’s national council.
Muck is surely convinced that the breakaway team is made up of a bunch of opportunists who happily left Tsvangirai to think on behalf of every party official.
One wonders why the negotiating team comprising Elton Mangoma and Tendai Biti spent countless days purporting to represent the MDC-T position prior to the formation of the inclusive government. Someone must be trying to take Zimbabweans for a ride here!
For its shallowness or lack of new ideas, the renewal team seems to be basing much of its hope on denigrating Tsvangirai without offering any explanation as to what kept them within the MDC-T if they were merely stooges whose role was overshadowed by a single individual.
The team, as much as it is seeking relevance, has run short of progressive ideas concerning the economic meltdown, concentrating more on undressing a leader whom they used to sing praises for.
If Tsvangirai joined the GNU without the approval of his party colleagues, that means the Renewal Team is as well doomed for it lacks the will power to challenge governance vices.
At least we now know they accepted ministerial positions for self-aggrandisement! The envisioned grand coalition is already doomed. Real political change requires courageous individuals, not pretenders!
Zim’s comic relief amid economic meltdown
Zimbabwe never ceases to have its own clowns at a time the nation needs sharp brains to pull it out of the political and economic morass.
We are told the presidential affairs minister Didymus Mutasa warned people not to criticise President Robert Mugabe or else the CIO will move swiftly to expose their bedroom secrets.
The warning seems to forget that Zimbabwe is a democracy whose constitution allows for freedom of speech. Should the majority wallowing in abject poverty remain silent on the basis that intelligence officers will punish them for expressing dissent and dismay? It wouldn’t be surprising to wake up one day with Mutasa threatening a state of emergency!
Maybe Mutasa is adding to the comic antics started by Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede who recently claimed the use of contraceptives led to population decline, a tool used by the West to weaken the country.
Maybe Mudede wants a population boom to safeguard the nation from foreign aggression while Mutasa believes government critics must fall from grace Pius Ncube style!