President Kgalema Motlanthe has finally woken up, it seems, to the reality of the people he is doing business with in Harare.
Speaking in Welkom last weekend on the fate of Roy Bennett, Motlanthe said: “Today I received a call from Zimbabwe because one of the leaders who was supposed to be sworn in as one of the ministers had been detained.
We had to put in a word to say ‘You don’t do that, you can’t detain someone who is supposed to be your partner in building a new government’.”
It was useful to have that on the record. Note how the public media failed to report his remarks.
Motlanthe has been among those calling for the lifting of sanctions while MDC officials and civic leaders are held in appalling conditions on what their lawyers say are spurious charges.
This is in complete violation of the September accord which not only requires the parties to work together but also underlines the need for freedom of assembly and expression.
One of those parroting the call to lift sanctions “immediately” is Arthur Mutambara who, as far as we can recall, has never once called for the release of political prisoners or an end to abductions and torture. We would be happy to apologise if proved wrong.
The courts have instructed that complaints of torture be investigated. We are not aware of anybody being prosecuted as a result of such investigations.
The Sunday Mail was complaining last weekend that despite the formation of the power-sharing government the West has not committed itself to lifting sanctions.
They really don’t get it, do they: So long as members of the opposition and civic activists are arrested, beaten and detained, potential donors will not want to have any dealings with the government even though it contains Morgan Tsvangirai.
Countries do not want to be seen propping up a repressive regime that is insincere about working with others.
Arresting Roy Bennett and dragging him before the courts told the world that this is an incorrigible rogue regime that does not really want reconciliation or recovery.
It was an own goal.
The Swedish government, traditionally a generous provider, had this to say last week:
“Now that the MDC is to take its place in the government it is vital that their position is fully respected and that the country’s government can rapidly rally around an extensive reform agenda. (We) hope that this transitional solution is the beginning of the end to misrule in the country.
“At the same time it is important that all political prisoners are released immediately and that the country is returned as soon as possible to fully functioning rule of law.
Politically-motivated violence must cease immediately, the rule of law and respect for human rights must be restored and the media must regain their freedom.”
The Herald carried a lead story on Tuesday about ministers settling into their new jobs. There was a picture of Public Service Commission chair Dr Mariyawanda Nzuwah telling ministers what was expected of them.
Shouldn’t ministers be telling him what they expect of him and other senior civil servants identified with the Zanu PF regime?
And what is government’s “results-based management system” they were briefed on?
One minister not shy to tell self-important officials their fortune was Tendai Biti. “The Reserve Bank has totally discredited itself,” he told Reuters in an interview last weekend.
“We must accept that the Reserve Bank is at the core of this economic decay. I make no apologies for those statements.”
Analysts say the central bank has helped ruin the economy by printing money and providing trillions of Zimbabwe dollars to state companies and government departments outside the budget, which has fuelled inflation.
Muckraker is of the view that Gono would make a good central banker were it not for the fact that he is hostage to all those elements in the state that are bent on destroying the economy.
And he aids and abets that process by printing money and issuing goods such as fuel and farming implements that are promptly resold on the black market by their privileged recipients.
Now that a majority in parliament – including the responsible minister – no longer have any confidence in him and are opposed to his continued tenure, wouldn’t it be a good move to admit defeat and stand down gracefully?
Then he could write a book that does not get filed under “Fiction” in the library but spills the beans on how much gets siphoned off by Zimbabwe’s parasitic elite who educate their children abroad.
By the way, have the Americans clarified that funny little story about Gono being offered a vice-presidency of the World Bank
A question: Weren’t deputy ministers supposed to be sworn in last Friday along with the full ministers? It was set out clearly in the January 26 communiquÃ©.
How come this provision was ignored?
People were probably too focused on the smuggling bid. What a blatant attempt that was! We are only sorry that so many relatives had to miss seeing their kith and kin sworn in when they were dropped from the list after hours of horse-trading.
And how many people are aware that one of those the president managed to squeeze through the back door was a key figure in the Muzorewa regime?
Muckraker has a theory that mediocrity and ineptitude are valued in Zanu PF. You don’t actually have to be good at anything to continue serving. Just being there is sufficient.
But during the fallow years when you are in between cabinet service it is important not to say anything.
That way your chance will come around again.
The Hong Kong newspaper, the South China Morning Post, this week reported the Chinese government as defending the right of President Mugabe to own a Hong Kong home after the Zimbabwean leader reportedly paid US$5 million for a villa in the former British colony.
“Hong Kong is a free port, and even Falun Gong practitioners can buy a property there, am I right?” a Foreign ministry spokesman in Beijing told the paper on Tuesday.
The comment came after the Sunday Times newspaper in London reported that Robert and Grace Mugabe had bought a home in a luxury complex in Hong Kong’s Tai Po district last year.
The Falun Gong movement is a religious sect banned in China but free to practise in Hong Kong which has freedom of speech guaranteed in its mini-constitution.
Police were called to the Mugabe property last Friday, it was reported, when two photographers working for the Sunday Times were allegedly assaulted as they attempted to deliver a letter and take pictures of the villa.
The incident took place two weeks after Grace Mugabe allegedly assaulted another Sunday Times photographer as he took pictures of her shopping in Hong Kong.
The Mugabes’ daughter Bona is reportedly studying at university in Hong Kong and students in Zimbabwe have held protests demanding that she be made to study in her home country.
Pro-democracy legislator Emily Lau called on the Hong Kong government to make clear its policy on whether politicians such as Mugabe should be allowed to visit or settle in the city. But China takes the view that the “sins of the fathers” should not be visited upon the children.
Grace found herself eclipsed at Tsvangirai’s swearing in last week by the wife of King Mswati who has evidently come a long way since her Reed Dance days.
She looked very smart in a tight-fitting outfit and a flying saucer hat that looked as if it could pick up DStv.
However, it had to come off in the line-up to congratulate the new prime minister because there wasn’t room for the hat and its owner!
Did anybody see Webster Shamu’s performance at the swearing in of ministers? Did he really have to go down on bended knee to Grace? Is that symbolic of his future role as Minister of Information?
Let’s hope not.
And what did ZUJ president Matthew Takaona mean when he said Shamu was a familiar face at funerals of ZUJ members?
Muckraker was gobsmacked by the report that a British and French nuclear submarine bumped into each other in the middle of the Atlantic. This was an amazing feat by any definition given the size of the North Atlantic. The expression “needle in a haystack” comes to mind. How did they manage it?