Careful how you tread, Laing, be very careful!

The new British ambassador, Catriona Laing, has said that the time is right for sanctions to go — or words to that effect.

The Muckraker

She described President Robert Mugabe as an iconic figure whom she admired. Really? Since when?

This was in response to her meeting with Mugabe and statements in the state media.

Today she writes a useful op-ed on Page 12 dealing with the future of UK-Zim trade relations.

While this is encouraging, Laing should be careful about this re-engagement. She is dealing with a wily old fox which uses clever hunting tricks. Mugabe’s politics is always marked by deception and guile — in fact, deep political machinations. Depending on Mugbe is like relying on a fox not to eat chickens. Ask Joice Mujuru.
Mugabe’s moves since his re-election in July last year and, more recently, those of his wife which have served to undermine the possibility of economic recovery. Toxic rhetoric and sabre-rattling remains in currency. Laing must not say we didn’t warn her — forewarned is to be forearmed.

The First Lady, Grace Mugabe, has proved recklessly offensive in her clumsy quest for power yet ignorant of the basic tenets of good governance. Veteran politicians have been shoved aside while others have been given short shrift.

Dubious PhD

The dubious award of a PhD to Grace has done nothing to help her to have a good understanding of issues, sound thought and good judgment, or assist her husband promote good governance. Indeed, Grace sounds illiterate and Zimbabwe has been reeling from her “Operation Tsunami”. There was in all this the usual reference to building bridges.

Most British and American ambassadors will be familiar with all this. The pattern is uniform. Upon arrival they respond to what they see as an amenable political landscape.

Anything is possible, they think. But within about six months, they are coming up against a brick wall, as Mugabe descends on them like a tonne of bricks.
So the British must guard against naïve impressions. This is just friendly advice.

While there is clearly a need to improve relations, that should not be done at the expense of democratic governance which has been struggling for change since 2000.

The latest instrument in the regime’s bag of tricks includes a petition on sanctions which hasn’t got anywhere and the First Lady’s acquisition of citrus estates which were seized from an elderly couple and transformed into an orphanage. The regime pretends all this is progressive development. How does an economy recover when productive farms are turned into orphanages or become political bases?

Enhanced security
We were shocked to see an article in the Herald saying security for ministers should be “enhanced”.

This followed a car crash involving Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa and comments in this column arguing that that those working in the media sector should avoid driving at night. Muckraker’s views were soon borne out by Mnangagwa’s accident.

Of course, ministers should enjoy enhanced security — but so should everybody else.

Captive state media

Still on the Herald, the state-controlled modern-day Pravda and its journalists seem to have gone bonkers. It is now firmly embedded in the Dr Amai’s faction that nothing will stop it from distorting, lying and misleading its readers.

What it is doing is no longer just propaganda, but now borders on hoopla, a boisterous clamour or a noisy fuss.

Take for instance the NewsDay story on war veterans leader Jabulani Sibanda on Monday. Sibanda was quoted by the NewsDay on Monday as saying: “If President Mugabe does wrong, l won’t insult Grace Mugabe.
“So you can’t insult Joice Mujuru because she is not Solomon Mujuru who they accuse of all those things. You can’t attack MaNdlovu my wife because of my wrongs.”

All averagely intelligent readers not motivated by malice would surely have taken this to mean that Sibanda was saying you can’t blame someone for crimes allegedly or indeed committed by another person. It’s that simple.

But not with Dr Amai’s captive Herald. It picked up the story and ran with it like mad.

“… Sibanda has all but sensationally confirmed that corruption and extortion allegations being levelled against Vice-President Joice Mujuru are true,” the Herald’s Zvamaida Murwira, with his byline on the falsification, wrote hiding behind legal analysts.

Seasoned lawyers like Jonathan Samkange were surprisingly roped in as instruments of the distortion. Well, Muckraker was not surprised by “political analyst” Goodwine Mureriwa’s helping hand in the falsehood.

The broader picture is that the state media have all been commandeered to join the onslaught on Mujuru and have thus thrown ethics out the window. It’s called defenestration. What they are not telling us though is what has Mujuru done exactly and why all these things now?

While Mujuru seems subdued, Sibanda is not taking attacks on him lying down. He has blasted Grace without fear, favour or prejudice. Mugabe must now be damn scared of Sibanda and war vets’ looming “Million Man March” on State House or Zanu PF HQ. It would be interesting to see what Mugabe would do. A Pistorius-style fight-or-flight response? Hazard a guess.

No commitment
The all-too-familiar story of doctors going on strike is in the news again. As expected, government has responded with a combination of threats and exhortations for the doctors to go back to work. Doctors are being told to have the plight of patients at heart as their issues are being looked into.

This is the party that promised in its manifesto last year that it would address challenges in the health sector “as a matter of top priority over the next five years”. What we have seen to date does not show that commitment.

It is still the same long motorcade when hospitals do not have medicine. It’s business as usual for our rulers whose top priority appears to be purchases of new Mercs, Prados and Jeeps. They do not care and must shut up about imploring others to care. After all they like foreign hospitals more.

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