An interesting snippet from Jan-Jan Joubert in the Sunday Times last weekend which has resonance for us in Zimbabwe.
It follows President Jacob Zuma’s admission for a hospital check-up and the reluctance of his staff to tell the public what was going down.
“A democratic head of state governs by public mandate, which of course means that the public regards its interest in the leader’s health as perfectly legitimate.
“Such interest,” Joubert argues, “was heightened by the lack of full disclosure about Zuma’s health and by his short walk to parliament.”
This should give Didymus Mutasa something to chew on. What was he threatening to do if Zimbabweans dared to speculate on their leader’s health? Look under their beds was it?
Something needs spelling out here. Zimbabwe faces a dilemma. There is at a superficial level a reformist dynamic.
The introduction of a new constitution and talk of alignment with reformist measures has led to a body of opinion in favour of democratic change.
But it is obvious in remarks by President Mugabe at Nathan Shamuyarira’s funeral and threats by Mutasa that elements within the establishment are far from reconstructed.
The old regime lives on in words and deeds. People would be foolish to believe that Zimbabwe has overnight become a democratic society.
People appearing in court still wear leg irons. Holding cells are still filthy.
The defamation laws which we were told amidst much trumpeting last year are about to go, seem to be loitering with intent!
They were designed to tame a rebellious nationalist movement in all corners of the British Empire.
How much has changed? The Zanu PF elite should not get away with claims to improvement until change has become a reality. Certainly nothing has changed in prison conditions despite a ConCourt ruling on the need for reform.
We were surprised by the Sunday Mail posters last weekend.
Would you want your predicament splashed over the front page of your own paper? Zimpapers continue to claim they are the Super Brand of the year; Zim’s leading daily paper. It is always best to be cautious about these things.
You cannot claim to be brand of the year when you can’t spell “overruns” (Monday, Page 1). Or you mix up General Zvinavashe with General Chiwenga (Monday P 3). And it was certainly not Mahatma Gandhi who came here in 1980. He was assassinated in 1948 and never came here. More likely it was Indira Gandhi SK Moyo was thinking of.
He says they had a “tremendous time together”.
Perhaps we can look forward to more details!
It was amusing to read in the Sunday Times’ Hogarth column that Zanu PF’s friend JuJu Malema and his Little Red Riding hoods had been complaining about the quality of food in the parliamentary restaurant in Cape Town.
What they were probably objecting to was the alien character of the cuisine. No wors ‘n pap for instance. Whatever the case, the new MPs in their new outfits were spotted a little later scoffing away — and taking more than anybody else — piling up their plates as if they faced starvation!
They haven’t learnt yet that politicians have to be consistent.
SK Moyo gave an example of consistency recently when he said Zanu PF would rule until donkeys grew horns. What can we say if they already have horns?
Zim dollar irritation
Patrick Chinamasa is obviously getting fed up with being asked about the Zim dollar. “When I was appointed minister the first question I was asked by a reporter is whether the Zimbabwe dollar would return,” he told a media launch.
“I made it very categorical that there will be no return of the Zimbabwe dollar. I thought that had ended. But each week the same people have been saying I was about to bring back the Zimbabwe dollar. If you analyse that you realise it’s either out of mischief or they are completely unaware of the economy.”
Now who could he be talking about? Who keeps suggesting the Zim dollar should be restored?
Who doesn’t know a thing about a modern economy? Whose newspaper column continues to resurrect the issue every week? Not us Patrick!
Having said that, we do have a view on the Zim dollar. It is the biggest recruiting sergeant imaginable for the MDC. Try suggesting the Zim dollar may return and see what you get!
Meanwhile we can’t stop reporting “who is doing what to who”, as you said last week. And you are right that we can’t access FDI because of our outstanding US$6,4 billion debt. When he returns from foreign trips he is invariably asked if he has brought back any money. This betrays a lack of understanding, he says. The debt has to be settled first. He is quite right.
The war of words that erupted between Zanu PF’s Women’s League provincial chairperson Constance Shamu and provincial chairperson Temba Mliswa in Chinhoyi recently informs us of the simmering discord among top officials in the ruling party.
The discord, concealed under the false banner of unity is no longer imaginary as Mliswa openly disclosed the backstage power struggles in Mashonaland West province. To make the drama more interesting was the gesture shown by Webster Shamu and senate president Edna Madzongwe who walked out of the meeting. That must surely have riled Mliswa, prompting him to spit venom at those he perceived to be plotting his political demise.
The Herald quoted Mliswa as saying, “It’s pretty clear that Mash West has always been a very difficult province for anybody to run because whether you want it or not Cde Ignatius Chombo … and Cde Shamu always wanted control of the province in controlling the chairman and I have not been that person that they have been able to control and as a result there has been disunity in the province. I will consult other leaders on the way forward.”
The claims he made allude to more tension that is likely to haunt Zanu PF as officials jostle for posts ahead of the party congress set for December.
And the nation is happy to learn from Mliswa that Chombo and Shamu have been perennial problems in Mash West.
Mliswa must be brave enough to play the game so openly or else he may find himself being coerced to sing from the same hymn book with those he dislikes or ship out!
Mliswa: “Others say we should go for elections questioning their legitimacy and in their view we should go for elections. Others say let’s continue and iron out our differences but I have told them that you can’t iron out differences for as long as Cde Chombo and Cde Shamu want control of the province personally and want to control the chairman. The problem is with those twoin this province. It’s always the case. With the late (John) Mafa it was the case.It continues to be the case. It must stop at some point.”