Sunshine journalism does not feed a broke nation

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Zimbabweans began the week in celebratory mood after it was revealed that formal employment had reached its highest level in history.

MUCKRAKER
Twitter: @MuckrakerZim

“Zimbabwe’s formal employment figures have topped one million — the highest ever in the country’s history — on the back of a raft of interventions by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government to realign macro-economic fundamentals and stimulate growth and development,” the Sunday Mail announced to the nation this week.

Of course, this is not the first time that unemployed Zimbabweans have been told that they were actually employed. Government’s official statistics insists that only 7% of the country is jobless, giving our glorious nation one of the lowest unemployment rates on the continent. It is a statistic that is sure to surprise neighbouring countries who are host to many job-seeking Zimbabweans.

But news that our formal employment is now at the highest-ever level is the sort of news that the unemployed masses have been waiting for. What is now left is to actually show them evidence of these jobs, seeing as millions of unemployed Zimbabweans have been looking for these jobs for years.

Some even gave up the search for jobs, and they dodged crocodiles to work as parking attendant and security guards at malls in South Africa. Others who remained behind became criminals. Others became MPs. Many others became both MPs and criminals.

Imaginary

Meanwhile, Mnangagwa seems bothered that people are not celebrating the economic turnaround under his rule.
In the latest of his Sunday Mail columns, he whines about the private media for only focussing on the bad news, and not recognising all the miracles that he is pulling off.

He says in the private media, “everything is recast as gloom and doom as if there are no positive developments”.

He then lists a series of things he believes to be good developments that are being ignored by the press.

Among the good news is the foreign currency shortage, which he says is an “exciting headache”. It’s all down to demand for forex from growing businesses, he tells the nation.

“One exciting headache we in Government grapple with daily is the demand for foreign currency, which has now more than doubled. There is demand for more raw materials and more machinery, both in the wake of greater capacity utilisation, and as more and more factories begin to retool, expand and/or modernise,” the President says.

According to the President, “daily I meet delegations and visitors from different parts of the world” and they are always surprised to see what a fine place Zimbabwe actually is, contrary to all the scare mongering in the press.

We await to hear their views once those visitors actually have to stay in Zimbabwe.

News that a headache can be exciting will obviously puzzle those who have had actual headaches and been charged US$10 for a small packet of basic painkillers at the local pharmacy.
Hollow
Like most other Zimbabweans, Muckraker was delighted to hear that Zimra is now going after the country’s rich, asking them to explain their source of wealth. We are Zimbabweans; we never tire of getting excited over false promises.
A headline on Wednesday screamed: “Zimra cracks down on rich, famous”.

It must be a very long crackdown, seeing as in 2014, we also saw a similar headline “Zimra goes after the rich and famous”.

Back in 2014, the then Zimbabwe Revenue Authority boss, Gershom Pasi, told MPs that Zimra would drive around Harare’s northern suburbs, going from one mansion to the next, demanding to know the occupants how they made all that money.

Four years later, no such audit has been done and, oddly, it is Pasi himself currently in court for corruption.

Now, we are told again that the rich are being quizzed by Zimra over the source of their wealth. Surprisingly, this includes the likes of Walter Magaya, as if Zimra officials have never heard about tithes and offerings and fees for one-on-one prayer sessions.

Did we not hear in January that cabinet ministers had two weeks in which to declare their assets? Recently, we were told that, no, they were to declare their assets by October. Surely, this could make Zimra’s job easier.

The entire nation is now waiting to see Zimra inspectors parked outside Shake Building on Rotten Row, interviewing the occupants. Listing the assets of the people in that building might take a year. Asking them to explain how they got those assets might take even longer. But we are a patient lot. We are prepared to wait. Mnangagwa told us during the election that he is a “man of action”.

It appears his action happens in slow motion.

Comic dosage

MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa must send a bill to Zanu PF, for providing timely propaganda services to the ruling party.

Each time Zanu PF is desperate to side-track the nation from focussing on its dismal failures, Chamisa comes running, flying a kite for all to gaze at for a while.

He has threatened to gamble away his sister, lied about meeting Donald Trump, and talked out of the side of his mouth about Kirsty Coventry. Now he has called his supporters stupid for protesting on August 1, the day the army killed civilians.

More entertaining than his remarks were the attempts of his supporters to explain away his latest faux pas.
Why would they be protesting before results were known, Chamisa asked? Of course, it had nothing to do with the fact that he had long declared victory even before votes were cast.

But this is Zimbabwe where, for some reason, you cannot criticise a politician and still vote for them. You are expected to treat them like an infallible church leader.

So we were told Chamisa was right. Those were never his supporters.

Laughably, we even heard that this was all part of a brainy political strategy by Chamisa to throw the Motlanthe commission off his back.

He had no reason to apologise, we were told. Well, when he then offered what appeared like an apology a day later, the same lot that had said he had no reason to say sorry, flipped and told us that the apology showed what a great leader we have here.

Muckraker chuckled at a British Broadcasting Corporation report on the whole affair: “Mr Chamisa has in the past always retained a core support base and a legion of supporters willing to explain away the gaffes and half-truths.”

Every politician must envy Chamisa. Which leader would not want to call his supporters stupid, and watch as those same supporters do their best to confirm it?

Alarming circus at commission

The Kgalema Motlanthe commission of inquiry into the August 1 murder of civilians in Harare continued with its public hearings this week. There was no shortage of drama as the various witnesses gave their testimonies.

The testimonies were quite astonishing and there was a lot to learn. The first lesson is that violence is in the DNA of Zanu PF politics. As if the nation needed any reminding! The second lesson is that the opposition is willing to jump into bed with violent thugs, as long as there is political capital to be gained. Frightening!

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