‘No going back’, left right and centre

President Mugabe thinks there will be “no going back” to the Commonwealth.

s=MsoNormal>“We will never go back to that evil organisation,” he was quoted as saying at the National Sports Stadium on Sunday.

 Do South Africa, Mozambique, Zambia, Botswana, Malawi and Tanzania agree with this outlook? Do they think the Commonwealth is of no value to them or the region? And if Mugabe believes it is so evil why did he make such desperate efforts to have Zimbabwe’s suspension lifted ahead of the Abuja Chogm? What was all that frantic diplomacy about?

The fact is Commonwealth membership is by invitation. And nobody right now is inviting Zimbabwe to rejoin because it is has such a disgraceful record of misrule.

Olusegun Obasanjo is currently being vilified in the state media because he could see the Commonwealth would be discredited if it lifted the suspension.

Zimbabwe will be invited to rejoin when democracy is restored just as South Africa was in 1994 with the end of apartheid. It seems like the height of arrogance for a mere mortal to presume that he can make declarations that bind the country into eternity. Posterity will make its own decisions about whether or not to accept an invitation to rejoin the Commonwealth, or any other organisation for that matter. 

And by the way, none of the 27 countries who voted against Zimbabwe’s censure in Geneva last week said there were no human rights abuses in this country. They said they didn’t want to single out certain countries or thwart diplomatic moves aimed at reaching a political settlement. However lame, it’s not quite the same thing!

 The Standard seems to have stirred Information minister Jonathan Moyo into an outraged frenzy. He was spitting in the Herald on Monday about a report that had appeared in the Sunday newspaper saying Vice-President Joseph Msika had ordered Arda off Kondozi Farm.

“There is no single right-minded Zimbabwean who would believe that the Standard of all newspapers in this world can report authentically the government’s position,” he raved. “Obviously the paper sought to abuse the views of the Vice-President on behalf of its usual white racist sponsors.”

There will be no going back on Kondozi, Moyo reiterated.

Now we would have thought that if Msika had been misquoted his office would have said so. Indeed, Moyo’s complaint appeared to be with the Standard for publishing the story rather than with the veracity of the report itself which he said represented “wishful thinking” by the “treacherous Standard and its evil sponsor”.

Moyo should be careful when referring to treachery and evil sponsors. And he is wrong in his basic assumption that the government does not make statements through the Standard or other independent papers, which he insists on pretending are “British mouthpieces”.

Ministers have often made statements on policy matters outside the realm of the state media. This may infuriate Moyo but he is in no position to prevent it.

The Standard’s report on Msika’s position on the Kondozi invasion accords with other reports of a meeting that took place at the Vice-President’s office last Thursday.

While Moyo may not like it, it is rather unprofessional to make abusive remarks about a newspaper just because it reports inconvenient news. Is he seriously suggesting everything carried in the Herald is “authentic”? Is that what the public thinks?

The Standard is edited by a former Director of Information who knows only too well what is authentic and what is not when it emanates from the government! And exactly whose imagination is the High Court order a figment of?

 There has been a lot of talk recently about “no going back” on the land issue. In pursuit of this claim government spokesmen have invented the story that the MDC originally intended to return land to its former white owners but has now changed its mind.

As far as we know the MDC some time ago proposed a land audit as a first step to a programme of land reform. Nowhere did it say land would be returned to its original owners. It did say land would be allocated to those who could best utilise it. That certainly doesn’t include Arda which has a shocking record of agriculture failure. If you go to Kondozi and look from a nearby hill you can see the difference between Edwin Moyo’s lush and efficient operation and Arda’s unproductive fields. No wonder they want to get their hands on it. In fact they want to get their hands on anything that has been successfully developed by its previous owners so they can benefit from that investment. That includes the theft of farm equipment that the state media are only now beginning to report on.

There will certainly be a “going back” when we get a democratic government with regard to those farms seized illegally or by threats. Above all, there will be a going back to examine Arda’s estates and why they have failed to benefit the nation despite huge injections of public funds. Joseph Made will be among those held accountable.

 We were sorry to hear that Munyaradzi Huni was so cruelly treated as a youngster by a horrid white man. This explains a great deal. The trauma, we were told, led to Munyaradzi concluding that most whites were racists.

The precise circumstances were not entirely clear from his story on Sunday. But it seems that in about 1983 while walking in Bulawayo with his sister Shamiso he pointed his finger at a white man who was “jogging so pompously”.

We are not sure how it is possible to jog “pompously”. But Munyaradzi got a telling off by the white man — and his sister, it would seem.

In the best tradition of China’s Red Guards, Munyaradzi denounced his sister as a reactionary fellow traveller.

“You should never point fingers at white people,” Shamiso admonished the young revolutionary. “If you do that your finger will disappear.”

This episode clearly had a profound impact on the young Huni who subsequently became the political editor of the Sunday Mail, a platform that has provided ample scope for revenge.

His sister, he says, had been “brainwashed to think whites were ‘little gods’. ”

“As I grew up, I realised there were many victims of this barbaric racism that made blacks think whites were superior,” Huni disclosed.

He cited as an example of “barbaric racism” the case of the white woman in a bank queue who moved her handbag when she saw a “nicely dressed black man” behind her. Huni didn’t say whether it was him.

“I am not saying all whites are the same,” he magnanimously concluded. “There are some very friendly whites out there, but I am not wrong to say the majority of them are racists.”

What, including the friendly ones? Is there to be no redemption?

It’s a pity really that Huni was  traumatised for merely pointing a finger at some unrepentant racist white man. But to bolster his conclusions he can try pointing his finger at State House while walking past so we see if it’s not going to disappear. If he survives to tell the tale, it might ring differently!

 Muckraker was intrigued by the number of state-owned companies that found it expedient to congratulate President Mugabe on the country’s Independence Day.

Some, to their credit, congratulated the people of Zimbabwe. Most hedged their bets by congratulating both!

The Zimbabwe School Examinations Council, led by its chairman Prof Phineas Makhurane, the director, the deputy director, the senior management “and the entire staff” congratulated “the First Secretary for Zanu PF, His Excellency the President of Zimbabwe, Cde Robert Gabriel Mugabe”. 

The Zimpost board, management and staff congratulated the president and the people of Zimbabwe. So did many others such as the Zimbabwe Prison Service (“for incarceration”), the Civil Aviation Authority, Noczim (“lubricating the nation’s industry”) and CMED.

The Jewel Bank wished the people of Zimbabwe an enjoyable Independence Day.

Zupco (“a commitment to safe and reliable travel”) joined the nation in celebrating “24 years of sovereignty”. Twenty-four years on, “the legacy still continues”, Zupco told us.

The Parliament of Zimbabwe published a message from the Speaker, members and staff referring to “the visionary leadership of His Excellency the President Cde RG Mugabe”.

The Third Chimurenga had brought hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans into the mainstream of agricultural production, the message claimed.

“His Excellency the President Cde RG Mugabe’s unwavering commitment to the restitution and restoration of our heritage has been hailed by all progressive Zimbabweans… The benefits of the land reform have begun to bear fruit…” it said.

As this message came from MPs as well as the Speaker and staff, perhaps opposition MPs could tell us whether they were consulted and if they endorsed the sentiments expressed.

By contrast the most inclusive advert came from Air Zimbabwe which invited us to “enjoy the many colours of freedom”. The board, management and staff wished the nation a happy 24th Independence Day.

It was a great ad. Just a pity they’ve only got five planes left compared to the 15 they inherited in 1980!

We were intrigued by Interfin’s ad. It showed a bird escaping from its cage with the exhortation: “Be free”.

 Among those claiming the land reforms were “bearing fruit” is Dr Samuel Undenge. The Sunday Mail last weekend reported that “Dr Undenge said the economic situation in the country was also set to improve following the increased agricultural output this year”.

Could Dr Undenge please point out to us examples of increased agricultural output. We would be keen to record a phenomenon that has escaped everybody else!

 We seem to have infuriated Dr Tafataona Mahoso by carrying an advert for the Voice of America’s “illegal” Studio 7.

Rather like his sponsor, Mahoso needs to learn that something is not illegal just because he says it is. As to whether Studio 7 tells all sides of the Zimbabwean story — which Mahoso calls a lie — is surely a matter of opinion?

Many journalists have left Zimbabwe to work abroad precisely because of the menacing intolerance Mahoso expresses in his rambling and poorly written piece last Sunday.

Muckraker wants to know if the following can be entered for the longest-sentence-in-a-Zimbabwean-newspaper contest:

“What would happen if the Voice of America were to carry the voices of Zimbabwe’s legitimate opinion leaders to the peoples of Europe and the United States, if there were no sanctions prohibiting the same opinion leaders to travel freely and defend their sovereignty and dignity in Europe and US media, is that the peoples of those countries would oppose the Bush/Blair programme of ‘regime change’ which is already costing them so heavily in Iraq?”

And who might those “legitimate opinion leaders” be? Surely not the long-winded author of the paragraph above whose convoluted blandishments would have difficulty getting by even the most indulgent editor on a good day!

 Speaking of which, how about this for gullible journalism: “The Minister of Local Government Cde Ignatius Chombo said Eng Mudzuri was being dismissed after the commission led by Prof Jameson Kurasha to investigate allegations levelled against him proved that the charges against him were true.”

Proved? What proof? Who has seen this “proof”? When not even the minister is prepared to disclose what it entails, how can the Herald declare it to be true — other than of course by blind faith?

All we have heard is that the allegations were “numerous”, some of which are “the arbitrary suspension and dismissal of critical staff” and alteration of council tenders to benefit selected companies.

In other words Mudzuri is accused of removing those Zanu PF-aligned officials appointed in the dying days of the government-appointed commission, and awarding tenders to a variety of companies instead of those exclusively run by Zanu PF luminaries.

We now see why he had to go!

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