Carnage on the roads: Yet another Zim crisis

“Zacc must be in the habit of making the ministries their first port of call. Of course, the situation gets different where a permanent secretary is implicated.”

Among the many crises Zimbabwe is facing, one has slipped in through the back door to assume a growing and unwelcome prominence. We are referring here to deaths on the road.

MUCKRAKER Twitter: @MuckrakerZim

Road accidents have become almost predictable on weekends and holidays as Zimbabweans pile into dangerous buses and trucks carrying many to their doom.

Our attention was brought to this unacknowledged crisis by the recent carnage on the Mutare-Chimanimani road which claimed 15 lives. Our colleagues at the Manica Post lost an employee in that accident.

In all these cases there is an air of inevitability that fades with the morning sun. For it is significant that nearly all these fatal accidents occur at night. There seems to be no awareness of the danger of night driving which could easily be avoided. Many of the accidents are head-on collisions or with stray cattle.

In wartime Britain there was an acute shortage of fuel which was rationed.

“Is your journey really necessary?” was the government’s slogan. And it was taken seriously.

Could we not do the same thing? What compelling reason is there for motorists to travel on the country’s main highways at night? Mostly, none at all. Can we not put our heads together and devise simple measures that banish deaths on the road? How many lives would be saved?

Missing the obvious

The Herald carried a front page article on Monday claiming the police should summon Itai Dzamara’s family over pictures of a heavily-bandaged man the family claims is Itai. “Legal experts” had disputed the claim, the paper reported.

“For a family that purports to be grieving over a missing relative,” the Herald says, “it was surprising they would parade the purported photograph instead of taking any information they might have to the police to assist with investigations.”

It is extraordinary that the captive state press should miss the obvious point that the police appear to have made no progress so far. It was therefore logical that the family should consider alternative approaches. Is that not their democratic right and sensible option? And what do Herald reporters think they are doing providing a smokescreen for Dzamara’s alleged abductors? Are they journalists or state agents? Newspapers should be documenting and commenting on human rights abuses, not finding an excuse for silencing government critics and writing morbid reports about a journalist-cum-activist who was abducted and ended up in forced disappearance.
Zuma’s shock

South African President Jacob Zuma had a shock recently. His chosen candidate as chief justice, Moeng Moeng declared against the president in a matter concerning his Nkandla home.

Tony Leon in his Sunday Times column reminded us of former Justice minister Oswald Pirow’s salient point that “the problem with political appointees to the bench is that six months after their appointment they assume they were appointed on merit”.

Wish our judges could be like that.

Cashless ATMs

Tourists visiting Zimbabwe are still facing all kinds of obstacles. Automated teller machines are no longer accepting Visa cards which has left many visitors stranded. Then there is the problem of roadblocks where tourists are made to produce all sorts of items from the boot. One motorist reported 24 roadblocks between Chirundu and Harare.

If just a few of these episodes receives coverage abroad, it is extremely damaging for our tourism. Have those in authority considered the consequences on the economy of roadblocks that are now more of corruption — extortion and bribery — hotbeds than a law enforcement measure?

Kudos to AirZim

Muckraker was excited by news of the resumption of flagship carrier Air Zimbabwe’s Dar es Salaam route. Transport minister Joram Gumbo led the government delegation on the inaugural trip after a seven-year hiatus. The patriot in us believes that this is the one trip President Robert Mugabe should have made — if only to go and take notes from hectic Tanzanian President John Magufuli on the importance of saving taxpayers funds by staying at home.

According to government reports in the East African country, the penny-pinching ex-school teacher saved US$3,2 million in his first 100 days in office after shunning foreign trips and directing senior government officials to visit rural areas instead.

Mugabe must stop being a busybody gallivanting all over the world while squandering taxpayers’ hard-earned money.

Muckraker also recalls a time in the not-too-distant-past when the Dear Leader frothed at the mouth and banged tables threatening hellfire after being informed by former South African president Thabo Mbeki of ministers who had demanded a US$10-million bribe to facilitate business deals for ANC-connected entrepreneurs.

Not that it ever came to anything, yet we can’t help but wonder how he feels about the Chikore brothers buying themselves a one-way ticket onto the gravy train through marriage to the First Family. Apparently, Derick, brother of Bona’s husband Simba, has wasted very little time in grabbing a share of the national cake, helping himself to a dodgy US$194 million-a-year (now revised down by 50%) Dema Diesel Power Plant deal which will result in a spike in electricity tariffs

Jumping frog

If you see a frog jumping around in broad daylight, there must be something after its life. Lately, there is no one doing more jumping around than Information ministry secretary and Presidential spokesperson George Charamba, who has been threatening the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) about “impugning government systems” in their quest to investigate corruption at ZBC and other parastatals.

“Zacc must be in the habit of making the ministries their first port of call. Of course, the situation gets different where a permanent secretary is implicated,” Charamba helpfully volunteered.

We don’t know if the permanent secretary is directly implicated, but what we do know is that last time Zacc got similar threats from government officials because it would have exposed their theft. By the way, Charamba received payments from the scandal-ridden Premier Service Medical Aid Society totalling US$228 278 between 2009 and 2013 in board fees and allowances — a fortune for a civil servant!

Is that why he is scared of Zacc? Or is it the ZBC scandal? Does he have something to hide? Well, as they say, the guilty are always afraid.

short and sweet …

Politician-cum-businessman, boxing promoter and policeman Phillip Chiyangwa (pictured) has lived the charmed technicolour life — mutating from being a British South Africa Police reservist to boxing promoter for the late African heavyweight boxing champion Proud “Kilimanjaro” Chinembiri to music promoter for Lubumbashi Stars then Zanu PF chairperson and now football administrator.

Politician-cum-businessman, boxing promoter and policeman Phillip Chiyangwa
Politician-cum-businessman, boxing promoter and policeman Phillip Chiyangwa

It certainly has been a long list of changes and with the same magic brush, Chiyangwa would have Zifa become NFAZ and in the process start on a fresh debt-free slate. If only it was that simple, but the unpleasant reality is that you cannot give Zifa a new name and expect all the debts and scandals to mysteriously disappear like tears in rain.