AN obvious contradiction rose to greet us in the pages of the state press this week. First we had President Mugabe declaring last weekend that the ruling of the Sadc Tribunal, defending the property rights of white farmers, was “nonsense” and would be ignored. Then we had a report that Sadc was attempting to mobilise funds for Zimbabwe’s economic recovery.
So Zimbabwe will be happy to accept money from donors mobilised by Sadc while refusing to accept the rulings of Sadc’s judicial institutions because they are inconvenient politically.
Zimbabwe is a party to the instrument setting up the Sadc Tribunal. But it will now pick and choose which aspects of Sadc membership suit its immediate needs.
There is also of course the other dimension to presidential posturing we drew attention to last week. The UN is asking the international community to support relief efforts in the country while the government is busy promoting land seizures that are calculated to further sabotage agricultural output.
So now the international community will understandably resist Mugabe’s blandishments because they prevent the new government from undertaking economic recovery.
Add to this, poisonous remarks targeted at elderly whites whose only crime is to have grown old in the toxic climate Zanu PF has generated and you can understand why donors feel they have solid grounds for not lifting a finger to assist the present regime until it stops causing havoc and harm.
UN humanitarian affairs chief Catherine Bragg says there was need to ensure farmers have sufficient resources to promote national food security.
“If we do not act now we could end up next year with a situation similar to what we have today,” she said.
Indeed. But she seems to have missed the central point that so long as Mugabe’s cronies continue to seize farms and harass their occupants there will be zero productivity.
Zanu PF continues to advertise itself as a racist project. It is happy to be seen as incorrigibly bad. That may play well in Chinhoyi but see what the response is in Washington or anywhere else the begging bowl is being held out.
As for sanctions, Mugabe has ensured with his remarks last weekend that there will be no change there. But who benefits from a policy of defying the West? Nobody except his small coterie of admirers who want to see deepening economic misery. They are the beneficiaries of Zanu PF’s misrule and they will ensure there is no recovery.
Another reminder would be useful here. In 1974 Mugabe and other political prisoners were released from their places of detention at the urging of South African and Zambian leaders. It was called dÃ©tente but was no different from the initiative Sadc has been engaged in over the past two years. That is, creating a climate conducive to goodwill and negotiation.
But there is no appreciation of that policy today. The beneficiaries of that gesture 39 years ago have decided upon a policy of mean-spirited political revenge that ensures the prison gates remain firmly closed for many despite this week’s releases.
Meanwhile, contrary to all precepts of natural justice, Section 121 of the Criminal Law and Procedure Act affords the state an opportunity to block the release on bail of political detainees despite judicial rulings. Some are held in dire circumstances.
Undertakings were given regarding their release during the Pretoria Sadc summit. Those undertakings have been honoured only in part.
The MDC, enjoying the perks of office, has been unforgivably quiet on this issue. We can understand the need for caution now Morgan Tsvangirai is in government. But why not publish what was agreed in South Africa so the country can see which side has not kept its word.
And what can we say of a “public” media that declines to publish remarks made at a press conference by the prime minister? Why are the public being denied the right to know what is happening regarding the progress of the unity government? And can you imagine a constitution-making process in which the public are prevented by the so-called public media from hearing contesting arguments?
At least we are clear on the issue of President Mugabe’s birthday bash. At first we were led to believe this was a national occasion. But thankfully George Charamba told the press that “on realising that the occasion was a Zanu PF event, Prime Minister Tsvangirai wrote to President Mugabe indicating he would not be able to attend as initially planned”.
“Prime minister Tsvangirai wrote to the president last evening (Friday) expressing himself on today’s event upon realising it is a party programme. It is not a snub,” Charamba said.
Have you noticed the widespread use of the verb “to realise”, not just here but everywhere? People “realise” something that is as clear as day to the rest of us. How long did it take for Tsvangirai and his staff to “realise” this was a party event? Those little red scarves should have provided a clue!
Did Muckraker detect a heresy in the Herald on Monday? It looked very much as if political editor Mabasa Sasa was calling for “a new flag that we can all be proud of as Zimbabweans”. But in fairness, he could have been talking about the condition of a particular flag, the one in front of Herald House.
The current flag looked as if it had just seen a hurricane, Sasa observed.
Rather like the country in other words! But not content with this mini-revolution outside Herald House, Sasa suggested digging up the whole of Africa Unity Square so as to purge it of its Union Jack design.
Sasa is perhaps planning to plant his mealies there. Herald House staff will then move in and occupy his plot in a patriotic demonstration of land reform.
But the Herald must be congratulated for suggesting ways in which the Registrar-General’s Office could improve its service to the public, in particular passport applications. The Herald’s editor offered sensible proposals regarded as routine procedures elsewhere such as downloading application forms from the Internet.
Let’s see if those recommendations are acted upon and if not, why not?
Tobaiwa Mudede is typical of a Mugabe-era mandarin blocking change and running a less-than-efficient operation. How much did he cost the state in pursuing a losing battle over Trevor Ncube’s passport?
Let’s see if Giles Mutsekwa can light a fire under him. Â
On the subject of Mugabe’s mandarins, what exactly is the status of Tafataona Mahoso who poses on ZTV as an “analyst”?
We know he writes a long boring column in the Sunday Mail, the contents of which belong to the Jurassic era. But what is his role at the Media and Information Commission and will he be translated to the new outfit which the state is proposing to set up in authority over us?
A colleague went to have his accreditation renewed last month and was told by a woman lying on a couch in the foyer that “we are resting”.
It was during the lunchbreak and Muckraker’s colleague was asked if staff at the Independent weren’t also resting. She couldn’t understand that somebody could actually be working between 1pm and 2pm.
This is the culture fostered at the MIC which the media is made to pay for despite the fact that it is an entirely unnecessary and unwanted agency.
Let’s hope that no self-respecting journalists agree to sit on the new body which is about to be imposed on us.
A reader has sent us a statement by Emmerson Mnangagwa made in February 1999 in response to a petition to the president by three Supreme Court and one High Court judge following the alleged abduction and torture of two journalists at the Standard.
The judges had asked for assurances that the law would be upheld following a statement from the secretary for Defence that he didn’t care about High Court orders.
“The petitioners’ concern over the concept of the rule of law is rather misplaced,” Mnangagwa, then Minister of Justice, replied, “as the executive has always upheld it.” He said it was “commonsense” that all arrests must be lawful.
“I am totally dumbfounded by the petitioners’ perception that the government is not committed to the rule of law,” Mnangagwa declared. “It bothers me that some judges of the Supreme Court would hold government in such contempt and low esteem.”
We wonder if he believes now that the executive has “always” upheld the rule of law? A Supreme Court order directing an investigation into the abduction of the two Standard journalists has still not been concluded 10 years later!
The Sunday News carried a lickspittle editorial last weekend suggesting we should all emulate President Mugabe.
“Decades spent in Rhodesian jails did not deter him from furthering his education and acquiring several degrees which laid the foundation for his future leadership role as founding father and head of state,” the editor opined. Notice how Joshua Nkomo has been displaced.
But who would today be able to acquire such qualifications from a Zimbabwean jail? Who would even be given the paper to write on let alone a desk and chair?
And by the way it was one decade, not “decades”.
We noted Mugabe’s remark in his birthday interview that he would assist in evacuating elderly British citizens.
“I don’t see any reason why anyone would want old people.”
Indeed Mr President, indeed!
But most old folk we love. It’s only a few stubborn ones who are a problem.
Muckraker was intrigued this week to see city workmen filling in the ditch at the intersection of Prince Edward and Samora Machel.
The Marianas Trench, as we named it after the deepest point in the Pacific Ocean, has sunk many an unsuspecting motorist in recent weeks as water from a burst mains pipe disguised its length and depth.
Last week a motorist phoned in to say he’d seen Zim 1 heading down Prince Edward at some speed together with its escorts towards the Zanu PF headquarters. A hunched figure could be imagined in the back reading his copy of the Herald.
Then Ka-boom! Zim 1’s armour-plated undercarriage came into contact with the trench. The report of sparks flying in all directions could, we suspect, be a subsequent media concoction. But whatever the case, there had to be consequences, we thought. This was certainly more than a bump!
And sure enough on Wednesday the road gang appeared. The Marianas Trench is now a landfill we are happy to report.
Finally, we are deeply unimpressed with the City of Harare’s attempt to bill ratepayers for refuse collection.
When did the city last send a refuse truck your way? On the rare occasions they make an appearance their accompanying staff demand money from residents for removing their rubbish.
Many residents have been obliged to resort to private firms for refuse collection. Now the city has the cheek to charge the public for a service they do not provide. Ratepayers should refuse – no pun intended – to pay for this highway robbery.