OUR thanks to Morgan Tsvangirai for firmly putting the kibosh on President Mugabe’s off the wall scheme to revive the Zim dollar. With the exception of a coterie around the president, nobody wants to see a return of that painful symbol of national decline.
“For economic reasons, there is no way you can resort to the Zimbabwean dollar in a situation of low production,” Tsvangirai told a news conference in Johannesburg. “You have to increase your productivity levels from the current 10% to about 50-60%, otherwise you slide back to… inflation. “It is impracticable to talk about even resorting to a currency which is worthless at this stage.”
A day earlier Mugabe had been posing as a friend of the poor who had no access to hard currency. But it was of course his ruinous policies that ensured the poor stayed poor.
“Yes, prices may have gone down but the people should have the money,” the Herald quoted Mugabe as saying. “If they don’t have the money, how will they buy the goods? We can’t run a country like that. We are considering changing that and reverting to our own currency.”
Just when everybody thought they had escaped the nightmare of inflation and state controls!
Mugabe’s address to the National Consultative Assembly illustrated just how difficult it will be to convince Western donors that he is a changed man. His speech was redolent in the sort of populist demagoguery that has so damaged the economy and isolated Zimbabwe over the years.
“Imperialists can never be friends of those countries and people that desire freedom,” he told his audience with reference to Tsvangirai’s recent trip. “I fought for freedom. Only a dead imperialist is a good one (sic). Colonisers can never be friends so we turn our backs on them and face the East.”
It will be interesting to see in that connection how much Emmerson Mnangagwa’s fishing expedition trawls in. The government media is still keeping his visit a secret.
As for the president’s war record, we advise those who wish to learn more to consult Edgar Tekere’s book. It provides a fascinating insight.
Given his excellent command of English it was surprising to see Mugabe getting his aphorisms mixed up. “The only good imperialist is a dead imperialist,” is the expression he was probably looking for. But who, apart from a tiny recidivist gang around the president, goes around talking about “imperialists” any more? As for poor Irene Khan, did she really deserve to undergo a sex change?
Mugabe described her as a “little fellow”. But he then corrected himself saying: “I don’t know where this little woman came from – always shouting. Was she bewitched? And in our country anyone can come and talk rubbish.”
Is this the language of a reformed leader? Does this sound like somebody seeking engagement with the international community and who understands what needs to be done to improve human rights? And, in this context, why does he think white farmers are not also Zimbabweans?
“The Zimbabwean land is for Zimbabweans,” he told the central committee. “Others can only be recipients of it if we, Zimbabweans, say so.”
What sort of country is it where the head of state targets citizens from a specific ethnic background for dispossession; who unleashes his followers against productive farmers and then expects the world to reward him with investment and aid?
We hope at least Tsvangirai got the message during his tour that expropriation of somebody’s life’s work on the grounds of race is simply not acceptable in today’s world.
Tsvangirai has foolishly been characterising farm invasions as a storm in a teacup. They are in fact emblematic of Zimbabwe’s lawlessness.
And Arthur Mutambara was quoted on SW Radio Africa as saying of his fact-finding visit to Mashonaland West where violent farm invasions have taken place that he wouldn’t be doing anything about it. He told the farm invaders on Mt Carmel Farm, the property of Mike Campbell in Chegutu, they had to leave.
He said they were giving their sponsor, Nathan Shamuyarira, a bad name. Â
They left for one hour, then came back.
Mutambara said he would take no action on the issue, claiming it was sufficient that he could say: “I saw it for myself’.”
But Arthur, this is delinquency writ large. If you saw it and then pledge to do nothing about it your national rebranding mission will fall at the first hurdle. And it deserves to. Look at the wave of scepticism swirling around Tsvangirai because he took the same evasive line, pandering to the hardliners in Zanu PF.
At least the Campbells’ story will be told around the world following the award made to the documentary film account of the ordeal the Campbells have been through. Described as “intimate” and “moving”, it was unanimously judged the winner of the Sterling World Award at the “Silverdocs” International Documentary Film Festival in Washington.
The judges said the film “elevates a resonant story to a global stage”. They particularly liked the solidarity shown by the farm workers with their employers.
The criminal brutality of the events at Mt Carmel Farm exposes the real face of “land reform” which Tsvangirai failed to get past world leaders recently when he spoke about isolated incidents!
We were amused by Patrick Chinamasa’s claims that his colleagues in the inclusive government now see things in “a different light”.
“They were previously academic and now see things in a different light,” he said at the Chinhoyi Press Club. “Our colleagues now see reality as we saw it before the inclusive government.”
Not difficult to imagine who this was aimed at. But as for current realities, it is surely Chinamasa’s party that has woken up to the fact that it has lost public confidence and cannot survive by means of brute force alone. It is Zanu PF that realises nobody buys its silly propaganda about external threats any more. Zimbabweans want to be friends of the West, not victims of the new colonisers from the East.
Zimbabwe would emerge as “a beacon of success”, Chinamasa suggested. But he didn’t say what it was emerging from and who put it there in the first place!
Nothing more clearly illustrates the need for open media than the Herald’s front-page story on Tuesday about the MDC-T’s boycott of this week’s cabinet meeting.
The Herald waxed indignant about the “highly disrespectful” move and the “narrow agendas of individual political parties”.
Only when we got to paragraph 11 were we told of the reason for the boycott. The meeting had been moved to Monday to prevent deputy prime minister Thokozani Khupe from standing in for President Mugabe, who would be in Libya on Tuesday, and Morgan Tsvangirai who was still in Johannesburg and had sent his apologies. He and Vice-President Joyce Mujuru arrived home later on Monday. It was a snub and no amount of huffing and puffing by the Herald could change that.
The boycott was an appropriate response.
Cabinet usually meets on a Tuesday. The MDC-T understandably saw the change in arrangements as a move designed to prevent their most senior members from chairing the meeting. That’s exactly what it was about and usefully illustrated Mugabe’s insincerity on the issue of the inclusive government. Could he not let go for a single day?
But this was also a lesson for Tsvangirai. Should he really travel the world singing praise for Mugabe when the president undermines him at every turn?
We warned recently that the state’s propaganda machine was gearing up to declare the Zimbabwe Media Commission a reincarnation of the sinister MIC. Now we have confirmation of this attempted confidence trick with Media minister Webster Shamu declaring in court papers that the amendment to Aippa last year did not alter the MIC’s powers but simply changed the regulatory body’s name to the Zimbabwe Media Commission.
It will be interesting to see how the court responds to this legerdemain. The minister acknowledged that the MIC ceased to exist on January 11 last year when the amendments to Aippa came into effect.
“However, that event did not mean that a new commission called the Zimbabwe Media Commission then became a successor body to the MIC,” the minister said in his affidavit opposing the application brought by four freelance journalists seeking to cover the Comesa summit, and upheld by Justice Bharat Patel.
He said the effect was the change of name from MIC to Zimbabwe Media Commission.
“There was otherwise no change in the status of the commission as a legal entity possessed with full corporate powers,” the minister declared in his affidavit. “The legal institutional and operational framework of the commission remained as it was in terms of its definition as set out in Section 2 (1) of the principal Act (Aippa).”
Board members appointed to the MIC already had running contracts, Shamu pointed out. “As such they continued to be members of the renamed commission.”
There seems to be some wriggling here on the legal hook. The Media ministry acknowledged in March that the MIC ceased to have legal effect with the promulgation of amendments to Aippa. But now it claims the MIC is effectively still operational.
Shamu said there had been a misunderstanding over the word “accredit”.
There was a distinction, he said, between journalists applying for a 12-month accreditation enabling them to practise in Zimbabwe, and the sort of accreditation that enables journalists to cover workshops and conferences.
If that is the case, why does Tafataona Mahoso say he is only carrying out “routine” business at the MIC? If it is merely a matter of a name change why has that prevented him from registering newspapers?
There is much misinformation about what both the GPA and the Kariba draft contain, Trudy Stevenson has pointed out.Â For clarification, the GPA states:
“Article VI Constitution:
“Acknowledging the draft constitution that the parties signed and agreed to in Kariba on 30th of September 2007, annexed hereto as Annexure “B”; Determined to create conditions for our people to write a constitution for themselves, and mindful of the need that the new constitution deepens our democratic values andÂ principles and the protection of the equality of all
citizens, particularly the enhancement of full citizenship and equality of women;
“6.1Â The parties hereby agree …to table (their) draft constitution to a 2nd All-Stakeholders Conference; that the draft constitution recommended by the Select Committee shall be submitted to a referendum..”
There is no indication whatsoever in the GPA, Trudy points out, that the “Kariba draft” will be used either as the reference point for the writing of the new national constitution, or as the document to be submitted to the referendum. It has merely been acknowledged as a document drawn up and signed by the three parties in the then negotiations as part of the package they would put on the table to be agreed upon or differed with, but as a possible starting point.
“ItÂ must be pointed out that the Kariba draft was drawn up and signed in September 2007, six months before the March 2008 election, on the understanding that all the three parties, in particular Zanu PF, were genuinely desirous of change and of a truly free and fair election in terms of Sadc standards,” Trudy says.
“Events, in particular events between 27 March and 29 June 2008,Â showed that this was far from the case, as Zanu PF first delayed the results of the first round… despite (the) public outcry, and secondly because the nature and extent of violence in the ‘run-off’ period March-June were such that there is no possibility of any conclusion other than that the violence was deliberate, planned and intended to ensure that the incumbent remained in power despite the wishes of the majority.”
Muckraker is having difficulty following the Herald’s maths on the status of the country’s dams. On Monday, June 22 it said that Harare’s major dams, Lakes Chivero, Manyame and Harava, now hold an average of about 90% of their capacity. It then went on to say Lake Chivero is 100% full, Manyame 98,8% and Harava 100%.
So that’s an average of 90%? Glad these guys are no longer running the economy!