Muckraker

Mugabe needs a tour of Harare Hospital



-SIZE: 10pt; FONT-FAMILY: Verdana; mso-fareast-language: JA; mso-bidi-font-size: 12.0pt”>SO Media Information Circus chairman Tafataona Mahoso has said he will be going after the Standard for “writing lies”? He claims the paper has been “carrying stories with initials as bylines”.


At least they don’t have circulation managers writing obituaries. And what is the difference between initials and bylines like “Under the Surface” and “Sunday Buzz” (who seems to have buzzed off)?


ZUJ recently wrote to Zimpapers to complain about its use of an unlicensed journalist, Shingai Rukwata Ndoro who is a circulation manager at the state-owned company. He plagiarised a biography of Simon Muzenda written by Diana Mitchell. The Herald inserted a tiny “acknowledgement” three days later. It conceded the profile was “largely derived” from Mitchell’s 1980 Who’s Who of African nationalist leaders.


“This man is illegally operating as a journalist,” ZUJ national council member Cyril Zenda wrote to Zimpapers management. “He is neither trained nor registered and has been churning (out) article after article, sometimes as a columnist and the latest as a reporter.”


If Mahoso attempts to make a case against the Standard for carrying columns to which he objects, the Standard should not hesitate to ask him what he has done in the case of Zimpapers managers moonlighting as journalists. They should make an issue of this. How acceptable is it to have circulation managers writing columns in publicly-owned newspapers?


Mahoso should also be asked for his views on Nathaniel Manheru’s scurrilous remarks about veteran journalist Bill Saidi in the Saturday Herald of September 26. Was this acceptable journalism?


We would hate to think Mahoso is focusing exclusively on the private media while ignoring unethical conduct in the government media.


Has anybody out there spotted a tourist yet? The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority seems to think there has been a 100% increase in tourist numbers since last year. The turnaround is attributed to a more muted stance by the independent press.


“The media onslaught on the economy which resulted in a lot of negative publicity by the private press has subsided and there has been a lot of positive coverage on Zimbabwe,” a ZTA official was quoted as saying in the Sunday Mail. Zimbabwe was rated as one of the safest tourist destinations in the world, the official chirped.


Tacked on to this was a paragraph saying: “The Department of Information and Publicity in the President’s office has also taken concrete steps to market the country as a prime tourist destination of unique international repute.”


We all know what that repute is: a government that has completely wrecked a hitherto lucrative industry by encouraging the invasion of conservancies and game parks, which has seen the decimation of wildlife, and inciting a climate of insecurity. The figure of a 100% increase in tourism is only accurate if we accept there was one tourist last year and now there are two! But where are all these mythical tourists? Has anybody seen them?


An article alongside this delusional nonsense said the ZTA was having difficulty collecting the 2% tourism levy from operators. The levy goes to bankrolling the ZTA.


We are not surprised. Why should operators pay to sustain a manifestly partisan body that sees its mission as misleading the public about the real reasons for the slump in tourism? Does the ZTA seriously believe that the collapse is attributable to the private press and not to a president and party that have inspired racist hostility towards a minority, destroyed the nation’s rich wildlife heritage and created a lawless environment in which the police will determine the politics of a crime report before responding to it?


The last thing the tourism industry needs as it struggles to function in Zimbabwe’s toxic political climate is another parasitic parastatal that collects large amounts of their money without their approval and without providing a useful service in return.


SABC reported, by the way, that teams competing in this year’s International Tiger Fish Tournament, much touted in the state media, were down from 270 last year to 180 this year — a record low. That piece of information appears to have escaped the ZTA, ZBC and the Herald!


 Jonathan Moyo, having been rather subdued in recent weeks, has once again reSurfaced and resumed his vitriol. He has been raving on about “weapons of mass deception”.


The only weapons of mass deception we know of are those he has been clumsily manipulating at Herald House. These are the instruments that misled us about Simon Muzenda’s health, Mugabe’s attendance at the Abuja Chogm, the number of people resettled, and an agricultural miracle around the corner. 


Moyo told his audience at the opening of the hapless New Ziana last Friday that a lot of media organisations that were now presenting themselves as champions of democracy and the rule of law were the ones that were against the liberation struggle.


This must have been a reference to the Herald, the  Chronicle and the Sunday Mail. They were the only organisations around then that opposed the liberation struggle. He might also have been including the predecessor of Ziana. We don’t recall the BBC supporting the Smith regime. In fact it set up a transmitter in Botswana to counter the RBC’s propaganda, just as Zimbabweans are having to do now in relation to ZBC.


“Government did not shut down the Daily News,” Moyo claimed. The “relevant arm of the government — the police — had to stop the Daily News from publishing”. It was a “victim of the rule of law”.


So the government didn’t shut down the Daily News; its “relevant arm” did? All a bit confusing!


And the paper has become the victim of a law that has yet to be tested for constitutional validity.


 We liked the way Moyo said “money was not going to make the New Ziana”. Which is just as well because it doesn’t have any. The Minister of Finance appears reluctant to help him out. Suggestions that this might explain the state’s raid on the Daily News’ equipment are obviously mischievous. But the fact remains, New Ziana’s future is far from “bright”, especially with the highly unstable Moyo claiming we can’t have anarchy in the media while creating it all around him!


And by the way, was threatening “death” to the VOA’s Studio 7 the shrewdest way to win friends and influence people?


Moyo is particularly resentful that foreign news stations like the BBC and CNN give the impression that Zimbabwe’s struggle for democracy began in 1999 with the emergence of the NCA and the Daily News.


“Is that the historical orientation we want for ourselves?” he asked.


Moyo’s annoyance is understandable. That is the year he took on the task of selling the constitutional commission’s flawed recommendations to the public. That is the year he made his Faustian pact with Mugabe. And yes, that is the year that marks the beginning of the groundswell of resistance to tyranny.


Moyo claims democracy and the rule of law were established in 1980. If so, why did he take a less indulgent view in his written work in the 1980s and 90s? Can we have some consistency here!


 Can somebody please take President Mugabe on a tour of Parirenyatwa and Harare hospitals. He appears to think everything is OK in the health sector.


“Our land reform seeks naturally to complement the dramatic and unequalled strides we have made in health and education,” he said in a speech to mark the Day of the African Child.


What planet does he live on? Has he any idea of the realities of daily life? In particular, does he have a clue about conditions in the health sector?


This shocking state of affairs results in part because he diverted scarce resources to the war in the DRC.


But once again we had the government media unquestioningly repeating this deception.


“Dramatic breakthroughs in health, education, science and technology had brought the country to a unique point in history,” he told youths dressed as defence force officers. He did admit that “daunting realities were a millstone around this progress”. But he omitted to tell the toy soldiers who that millstone was!


By the way, do parents really want the public to mistake their kids for Chihuri, Shiri, Zvinavashe, etc?


 Regular viewers of ZTV will know that the shrill Judith Makanya is not shy in advertising her adherence to the government’s bankrupt claims about British imperialism. It may come as some surprise therefore to learn that she has been a regular applicant for the British government’s Chevening scholarship scheme.


This was described recently by one government source as “spy training”.


But have no fear. Judith is not likely to fall into the hands of the Breetish. Her chances of improving her propaganda skills in the UK are between zero and zero, Muckraker has been reliably told.


We see our old friend the “African ambassador” is back in the pages of the Sunday Mail. He has been taking some well-deserved leave after commenting at length on a range of issues from his offices not far from Munhumutapa Building. But now he is back to say how “shocked” the diplomatic community is “by the way some people are trying to distort the truth” about the Daily News.


The paper should not expect to be rewarded for breaking the law, he said in language remarkably similar to the minister’s. What a coincidence!


 President Thabo Mbeki is delighted with JM Coetzee’s Nobel Prize for Literature, according to the Sunday Times.


“We take off our hats to and salute our latest Nobel Laureate and bask with him in the glory radiating from his singular recognition,” presidential spokesman Bheki Khumalo gushed.


As the paper’s Hogarth columnist notes, this all sounds a bit strange. Just three years ago in its submission to the Human Rights Commission inquiry on racism in the media, the ANC said of Coetzee’s book, Disgrace:
 
“JM Coetzee represents as brutally as he can the white people’s perception of the post-apartheid black man.”


Is it now conceded that such criticism, like much of the “evidence” to the HRC, was plain daft?


Hogarth this week listed, courtesy of Britain’s Daily Mail, some of the dumbest answers given on the popular quiz show, The Weakest Link.


Asked by Ann Robinson who wrote the political treatise Das Kapital, a contestant answered: “John Major.”


Another was asked which of the Marx Brothers remained silent throughout all their movies: “Karl,” he answered.


“Which Indian leader whose last name begins with ‘G’ took the title Mahatma?” a third was asked.


“Geronimo” was the answer given!


The president last week attended prize-giving at the Convent where his daughter is enrolled as a pupil, Muckraker understands. The little Mugabe won a “progress” prize. Sadly, no such award could be made to Dad.

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