Muckraker

Which Harare does Chombo live in?

IT is staggering how gullible and foolish some church leaders can be. Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe general secretary Andrew Muchechetere says his organisation is “concerned with the effects sanctions are having on

the common man in Zimbabwe”.


Anything that affected the common man “is not good and should be tackled forthrightly”, he declared.


This statement was issued ahead of a meeting with the MDC in which the churchmen said they would “examine the ways in which the sanctions that were imposed on the country can be removed”.


As all the legislation involving sanctions by the US and EU clearly stipulates how they can be removed such a meeting would be a waste of time. There would have to be a restoration of the rule of law and an independent judiciary, an end to political violence (ie: disbandment of militias) and electoral manipulation, and a clear programme for political and economic reform (ie: not delusional programmes like NEDPP but something that addresses macroeconomic distortions).


How come the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe doesn’t know this? Why is it not making these issues of social justice fundamental to its own ministry?


The answer is self-evident. This is a coopted and suborned outfit concerned more with the government’s legitimacy than with Christian teaching. We sincerely trust the MDC and civil society will spell out clearly how sanctions can best be lifted so we enjoy better governance and an end to the misery President Mugabe’s sanctions against his own people has spawned.



Muckraker was fascinated by a “conversation” Caesar Zvayi had with Small and Medium Enterprises minister Sithembiso Nyoni last Saturday. He asked some useful questions. But the answers unfortunately were mostly uninspired and formulaic. Here is an example: “One of the key objectives of the recently launched National Economic Development Priority Programme is foreign currency generation. What role is your ministry playing to ensure the realisation of this objective?”


Answer: “The policy guiding the ministry from the outset has one of its specific objectives being to generate foreign currency through export of products by SMEs. With regard to NEDPP, the ministry is involved in the Growth Point Resuscitation Programme which envisages redirecting resources to growth points for purposes of investment and production of export-oriented goods. This would also result in employment creation, poverty reduction, and modernisation of rural areas.”


Indeed it would — if it worked. How is the government going to “redirect resources to growth points” if there is no “investment”? What “resources” have been earmarked for this project?


We have among us a number of Pollyanna publicists who believe that in an ideal world it should be possible to attract investment, boost growth and generate employment. But none of that is happening because nobody will invest in a lawless state where ruling-party officials loot farms and threaten businesses.



The NEDPP has started to “bear fruit”, the Herald tells us on the strength of a statement by the China Development Bank. Has anybody seen this fruit? Has anybody tasted it? Will the Chinese prove more indulgent with their investment capital than the Malaysians, Libyans, and Iranians, all of whom were greeted as economic saviours but ended up disillusioned?


At least Nyoni has a background in NGO work and knows what is required for things to get back to normal in the rural sector. She shouldn’t of course be sitting in parliament having been rejected by voters. But she is probably more useful than certain interactive kwasa kwasa dancers we know of who still can’t tell us what their ministries do — or indeed what they are doing there!



Zimbabwe does not have the greenback or the euro but it has loads of minerals, Vice-President Joice Mujuru said during her trip to China last week.


“We have some people perceiving Zimbabwe as a very poor country,” Mujuru was quoted in the Press as saying on Monday. “Yes we do not have the greenback or the euro but we have minerals in abundance. We have more than 600 minerals in my country.”


There were glaring omissions in this rendition. Mujuru forgot to tell the Chinese that Zimbabwe is not a poor country because inflation is 1 200%, interest rates are more than 500%, more than half the people live on less than US$1 a day, the economy has shrunk by more than 40% in real terms and government debt is $22 trillion. That is a picture of the rich Zimbabwe the Chinese need to know.


On a point of advice, the 600 minerals in Zimbabwe (where did she get this figure?) do not suddenly make us rich as long as they are not exploited for the benefit of the populace. Minerals still embedded in the belly of the Earth are dead capital. They are capital dead as a dodo just like underutilised land. Does she know that the DRC, because of its land mass and minerals, has the potential to feed the whole of Southern Africa but its people are some of the poorest in the world?


The only consolation for her though — in case she had not noticed — is that Zimbabwe now has its own greenback, albeit a bit jaundiced. Let’s look out for the next production from the central bank. Our own euro beckons.



Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo wants everyone to believe Sekesai Makwavarara is doing such a sterling job that her stay at Town House needs extending for another six months.


Chombo reveals arrant contempt of Harare ratepayers’ quest for an elected administration and a perilous what-can-they-do-to-us attitude.


The problems with such indeterminate arrangements are that they become so entrenched that distinguishing competency and ineptitude become extremely hard to accomplish.


Who knows? The Commission might outlive elected councils to show how Zanu PF has completely abandoned the principle of one-man-one vote and usurped the people’s right to choose.


What criteria did Chombo use to judge Makwavarara’s incompetence?


He was pleased, we are told, with the work done by the Commission as “it achieved targets set for it”.


Really?


One has to literally look for a needle in a haystack to see which targets the Commission met.


He wishfully mentioned the increased visibility of the city in areas such as road maintenance, street and traffic lights management, improved refuse collection as proof.


Does the minister live in Harare? If so, which city is he talking about? Or is he moving around the city hidden under Sekesai’s skirts? Little wonder he sees light at the end of the tunnel!


If collusion in executing Operation Murambatsvina — carried out with a warped mentality reminiscent of colonial laws that banished natives to tribal trust lands — is one of the criteria, no one would doubt the Commission’s surreal competency.


Perhaps Makwavarara and her fellow commissioners’ quick uptake in parroting their handlers’ flair for living off the sweat of others got them above average marks.


And how a whole government could sit down and decide to set targets for a body to surpass its predecessors in mismanaging ratepayer’s lives boggles even the simplest of minds.


Chombo has the gall to tell everyone that elections cannot be held in Harare due to an outstanding issue of the province’s boundaries that need to be addressed.


Surely a little help from Patrick Chinamasa would save him the trouble.


Chinamasa was able to collapse 100 constituency boundaries into 60 in no time at all and without breaking any sweat.


Without saying so, Chombo showed the catatonic fear in the ruling Zanu PF of losing democratic elections in Harare if his ministry dared take the risk.


Otherwise, how else would one explain Chombo describing the Commission as having done a sterling job?



Fear of an unfettered press does not come cheap judging by the extreme lengths Tafataona Mahoso goes to dredge up irrelevant doses of trivia to reinforce his paranoid thoughts in his turgid weekly “African Focus” column.


Now we are told there is media terror against the people of Zimbabwe. This involves newspapers telling people how deprived they are of basic necessities such as food, fuel and how a government comprising former liberation movement mandarins has messed up their lives.


Forget about the “War on Terror” in the run-up to the 2000 elections. The disingenuous plagiary of the American version flopped convincingly.


A new campaign, we are told, is a subtler mode of terrorising Zimbabweans, courtesy of the media “to condemn and abandon the reclamation of African land stolen by white settlers”.


Mahoso fails to appreciate the obvious fact that there are still land-short peasants scraping out a living along hill slopes and on rocky infertile grounds nationwide despite government “reclaiming African land stolen by the whites”.


A new breed of revolutionaries can safely claim to have successfully re-stolen that land.


Mahoso gets entangled when he says the imperialist media tells readers of “a brutal former liberation movement in power that
would abuse the people, disregard and annul the constitution and use any and all means to cling to power”.


Sounds like an accurate summary to us! But we had a good chuckle over the claim that the government held free elections, respected the judiciary and obeyed court orders. Since when, this single-minded apologist should be asked?


Predictably, he exonerates Zanu PF of any such misdeeds and instead flays the opposition for disregarding the constitution and rejecting election results .


How an opposition can “consistently hold free and fair general elections” escapes us. And is the opposition in charge of food and power supplies?


Surely it’s the government of the day that does that.


But it would be unreasonable to expect anything rational from such a fevered brow. Mahoso claims Anna Tibaijuka’s “inflated numbers of uprooted refugees” is attributable to “the violence, the evil, the
brutality and genocide which the terror press has always imagined and reported to be happening in Zimbabwe”.


Whatever he’s been smoking it’s time to quit!



Muckraker again had a good chuckle over an AFP story on the new football language invented by two teenagers to bring universality to the world’s biggest sport. In their book Socceranto: Birth of a language, they include: a Maradona, a goal scored by a hand, a Pele, a bicycle kick, and a Ronaldinho, a no-look pass. Can we propose an addition to this dictionary: a Benjani for a person who can’t score from five yards.



Has anybody been following the delusional scheme to transform Beitbridge into a world-class city? If the government is sincere about this project why can’t it relieve some of the stress travellers have to go through when returning to the country?


On May 31, we are told, there was one lady manning the Zimra counter to collect $300 000 road tax.
The queue went back for several hundred metres, we gather. She was writing out receipts in long-hand.
As a result it was taking people
three hours to reach her.
And then there are the touts who move around unmolested by officialdom.


A world-class border post requires some basic organisation. The Ministry of Finance should be involved. But we haven’t heard from them for years!



Finally, we loved the following from a Sunday News interview with Masvingo governor Willard Chiwewe.


Q: “As a former civil servant what experience did you bring to the administration of Masvingo province?”


A: “Well, I do not know either.”

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