‘THERE is one animal which we talk about very seriously — corruption. Please, please, the leaders of the workshop.
Khulumani ngayo (talk about it) lingesabi amagama (don’t be afraid of names). If I’m rotten, say it please.”
These were the words of Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko at a ZimAsset meeting in Bulawayo in May this year. Last week Mphoko showed just how meaningless his rhetoric is when he, cowboy-style, stormed Avondale Police Station to demand the release of two arrested officials. The officials are Zimbabwe National Roads Administration (Zinara) acting chief executive Moses Juma and non-executive director Davison Norupiri who were arrested last week by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) on allegations of defrauding the parastatal of US$1,3 million.
After being rebuffed by police on his telephonic demand that the two officials be released, Mphoko drove to the station and pompously declared that he was the vice-president of the country and “not of a co-operative or burial society” before forcibly signing out of custody the two officials. A poor police officer at the station, who was trying to stop this criminal abuse of office by Mphoko, was beaten up by the vice-president’s security details for his resistance, we learnt.
What makes it even more deplorable was that he did this in his capacity as Acting President. We shudder to imagine what would happen if ever the arrogant and aggressive Mphoko takes over as president. It brings into question the relevance of Zacc if its authority is trampled upon with reckless abandon by those in power.
The toothless commission should be disbanded and not waste taxpayer’s money if it cannot enforce arrests of corrupt public officials. When people call Mphoko a “Mboko” (rescal), he protests but his actions show he is indeed a “Mboko”.
Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf is a former Iraqi diplomat, politician and spin-doctor. He came to wide prominence around the world during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, when he was the information minister under dictator Saddam Hussein. He acted as the spokesperson for the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party and Saddam’s regime. Al-Sahhaf is best known for his grandiose and grossly unrealistic propaganda broadcasts before and during the war, extolling the invincibility of the Iraqi army and the permanence of Saddam’s rule despite evidence to the contrary. This earned him the moniker “Comical Ali”.
Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo is now our own version of Comical Ali after he told state media that Zimbabweans were eagerly awaiting bond notes, which have triggered a national outcry.
Despite widespread public outrage the imminent introduction of bond notes, which some have described as “zombie money”, Chombo, without batting an eyelid, said Zimbabweans cannot wait for this “surrogate currency” as his boss called it. If anything, it is only Chombo and his Zanu PF colleagues who are looking forward to bond notes to further their looting enterprise. Chombo and his cronies are shameless kleptocrats plundering the country for self-aggrandisement. Mugabe’s regime is a kleptocracy — a government in which those in power expoit national resources and steal to line their pockets; rule by thieves. Crass ignorance
Deputy Labour minister Tapiwa Matangaidze is clearly a man under pressure. Quizzed in parliament on Wednesday about the government’s capacity to pay civil servants’ salaries, Matangaidze stunned parliamentarians when he accused MDC-T legislators of “crying more than the bereaved”.
In his desperation to play to the gallery, the deputy minister exposed just how shallow-minded he is. As was pointed to him, MPs have a duty to represent their constituents who include civil servants. The legislators were just doing their job, but Matangaidze, exhibiting crass ignorance in response to the queries that exposed government’s dismal failure to pay salaries on time as it recently promised, acted like a bull in a China shop. It was a performance Shakespeare would have described as a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury signifying nothing.
Asked to apologise for his outburst by the Deputy Speaker of Parliament Mabel Chinomona, Matangaidze did not. Showing her ineffectiveness as speaker, Chinomona failed to reprimand him for defying her order to apologise. This particular episode has shown that parliament is poorer with the two-thirds Zanu PF majority.
Most of Zanu PF MPs are clueless and useless loafers.
Zanu PF’s clueless leadership was once again brought to the fore this week with its response to protests by Zimbabweans over cash shortages, import restrictions, company closures and joblessness, among a plethora of problems. Instead of trying to find ways to address genuine grievances by citizens, Zanu PF sent its youths to protest against the protests by citizens. How does a ruling party protest against protests over company closures, unemployment, cash shortages and poverty?
The youths threatened to “crush” the protest movements and even had the temerity to ask the police to step aside to allow them to do so. It would be comical if it was not so tragic.
Wednesday’s lunacy by Zanu PF proves what we have said times without number that this is a party that has outlived its usefulness. It is a party that has no solution to the multi-faceted problems the country faces. It is only Zanu PF and its leaders who react to a national outcry over economic problems by marching in the streets.
After failing to keep its electoral promises, among them to create 2,2 million jobs, the party has resorted to its tired mantra of sanctions and blaming every protest on Western sponsors. The march by Zanu PF youths will not help in any way to ameliorate the problems facing the country and will not pacify the generality of the country’s restless populace who are tired of being treated as second-class citizens by a clueless and arrogant party. The sooner this registers with the authoritarian Mugabe and his party, the better. One reader aptly captured just how ridiculous the march was: “Never thought I would see the day you guys (Zanu PF) start playing catch-up. Next week you also do your own stay-away. ha ha ha!!!”
The state media were clearly riled by the overwhelming support by the general public for #ThisFlag protest movement leader Pastor Evan Mawarire at the Harare Magistrates Court on Wednesday last week where he was being charged, firstly, for inciting public violence before it was changed to subverting a constitutional government.
The wild celebrations by the multitude of people at the court after candlelight vigils, songs and prayer when he was released must have shaken the establishment. ZBC chief reporter Reuben Barwe’s description of the crowd as that of bitter ex-Rhodesian whites was nothing short of the absurd and disgraceful. Interviewing the few whites that were there and ignoring the large number of black people smacks of desperation.
The sorry attempt to portray it as if Mawarire was supported by mainly bitter ex-Rhodesians shows how journalism has gone to the dogs at the state broadcaster. This is why it was a dark day for Zimbabweans on Wednesday when the Constitutional Court ruled that citizens have to pay licences for moronic propaganda disguised as news. By being obligated to pay for a licence, it feels as if viewers and listeners have been asked to throw their hard-earned cash down a bottomless pit.