HomeOpinionSA student riots, free for all attitude takes toll

SA student riots, free for all attitude takes toll

History will remember them as the generation that will no longer be quiet, the generation who would no longer be excluded, the generation who said so far and no further and who led when there was no leadership to be found, declared the Mail & Guardian in a ringing endorsement of the new order last week.


This is a narrative that has gone missing in the various accounts. But it needs clarification.

Who was trying to exclude them? Nobody we know except perhaps for some over-extended vice-chancellors?
They shut down universities. They marched on Luthuli House we are told and on parliament and to the doors of the institutions that had failed them. From the inside of prison cells they took this country by the shoulders and shook it.

They marched for education, for change, and for each other.

The last bit sounds closest to the reality.

They certainly weren’t marching for South Africa. Many of the marchers were hangers on with no particular agenda. It was an earlier generation of idealists who got the infant republic on the move.

Watching Max Price on duty a few weeks earlier demonstrated the emptiness of the new generation. The millions of dollars allocated for tertiary education in South Africa was money down the drain for many institutions.

Which of course was a great pity. A more comfortable heading would read “Free for all”. Indeed!

What sort of culture is it where all is free and nothing earned? Nothing that puts their country on the right footing.

South Africa needs idealists. Those who can deal with the institutionalised corruption and hollow nationalism that has enriched a political class of the sort that can now be seen by millionaire staffers at SABC.

Meanwhile, congratulations and good wishes to new M&G editor Verashni Pillay. She is undoubtedly up to the task.

The Herald on Tuesday reported that some parastatal bosses were still earning mega salaries despite the setting up of a National Code on Corporate Governance which seeks to regularise how state-controlled entities operate.

What’s not perplexing though is the defiance by parastatal bigwigs since it has become the norm in this country where besides corporate governance, rule of law and respect for human rights is not upheld.

It has become actually fashionable in Zimbabwe that corruption is institutionalised while shocking income disparities are treated as trivial.

Like many other dictatorial states in Africa, Zimbabwe also operates a “lootocracy” — government by looting of state treasury.

For some time the comptroller and auditor-general Mildred Chiri has exposed the rot in government entities, but no measures have been instituted so far.

Why then should government waste resources compiling documents which are unlikely to yield results? When the nation expects heads to roll, those involved in shady deals are always let off the hook.

Does the country really need an auditor-general whose findings quickly find their way to the archives?

Is it because some if not many involve top government officials, that they are regarded as trivial.

With President Robert Mugabe at 91, he should definitely be less concerned about that, his remaining interests, through personalisation of the state, is to safeguard his dynasty while neglecting his other role to ensure corporate governance sanity.

The valid but unsound philosophical argument: “A plane is a carpenter’s tool, 707 Boeing jet is a plane, therefore 707 Boeing is a carpenter’s tool”, resonates with attempts by Vice-President Emmerson to justify First Lady Grace Mugabe’s donations of farm equipment acquired from Brazil under a loan facility to members of the ruling party.

Mnangagwa argued in parliament last week that tractors can still plough whether handed over by Grace or by Agriculture minister Joseph Made. While it is correct that farm equipment still works despite being donated by Grace, it doesn’t necessarily mean she had has to bend government protocol to spruce up her political image.

Has she suddenly become a super minister whose role transcends all other portfolios?

Her shallow and clueless rallies should not distort constitutional frameworks; neither should her hidden ambitions lead to abuse of power.

Some things need no justification. Obviously singing for his supper, Mnangagwa finds himself defending the indefensible.

Of former Hurungwe West MP Temba Mliswa and People First — who is fooling who? When he was sacked from Zanu PF, it was alleged his links to former vice-president Joice Mujuru was the reason. And now he seems to be attacking those he was fired with.

Is he trying to promote discord ahead of the 2018 general elections as People First spokesperson Rugare Gumbo thinks or is it because the yet to be launched party is already carrying the yoke of factionalism as Mliswa says?

Well with factional fights taking their toll in all parties — Zanu PF and opposition movements, Muckraker believes it’s the greatest let down for ordinary Zimbabweans yearning for help.

Finally, can any Zanu PF member be an objective election observer? Africa desperately needs serious leadership which currently appears absent across the board.

Baffling police behaviour seriously eroding national status
Meanwhile, it would be useful to know how much ZRP police chief Augustine Chihuri has made on his autobiography which all senior officers have been “encouraged” to purchase.

One field of enterprise has been roadblocks which are deeply unpopular with the motoring public. A report recently appeared in Southern Eye which detailed problems arising.

Headed “Traffic cops harass Botswana delegation,” the delegation sponsored by Botswana’s Ngamiland under the auspices of the UNDP were shocked by the hostile behaviour of the police along the country’s roads. A journalist who was part of the delegation wrote in the Botswana Sunday Standard that her Zimbabwe visit could have been much more enjoyable had it not been for police hostility at the countless number of roadblocks they passed through between Mashonaland and Matabeleland. “The hostility betrayed by Zimbabwe police dampened my mood,” she said.

She said between Harare and Bulawayo alone they passed through more than 12 roadblocks and numerous tollgates. “In all of them we were flabbergasted by the police’s demands to be paid for the most unreasonable offences.

“The police found fault with almost everything we did or said and they had no qualms charging us repeatedly for the same offence at every roadblock even when we provided proof of payment claiming they had run out of stationery.”

She said the numerous roadblocks caused them unnecessary delays which resulted in them running behind with their schedule. Police commissioner Charity Charamba could not be reached for comment. It would be good to know what the police think about such damaging reports on their behaviour.

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