HomeOpinion & AnalysisMuckraker: Zanu PF’s PR Machine Achieves ‘snap poll’ Feat

Muckraker: Zanu PF’s PR Machine Achieves ‘snap poll’ Feat

THE government media, controlled by the hard-liners in Zanu PF and their vitriolic spokesmen, seem to think we should be worried by United States support for the prime minister’s office.

Every few days there is a new fit of hysteria about the Americans providing funds to Morgan Tsvangirai’s office.
But the purveyors of these shrill stories are not getting the public response they seek. Most people want donor funds to be kept out of Zanu PF’s grasping hands. They are perfectly comfortable with the Americans funding the PM’s office.
The state media has been playing the nationalist card, attempting to whip up indignation over US support for the MDC. But nobody buys this any more. They just want things to get better. And that won’t happen if the gang around President Mugabe intercept funds from the US and EU. Their populist policies have spelt disaster in the past.

We had a mysterious “African diplomat” on Sunday suggesting there was a shift in US policy “necessitated by the creation of the inclusive government, the stabilisation of the economy following measures announced in Minister Patrick Chinamasa’s budget, the reengagement of Zimbabwe and the mounting campaign against sanctions”.
This is all laughable. We are now led to believe it was Chinamasa’s budget that saved us from penury, not Tendai Biti’s fiscal measures. And the “African diplomat” obviously didn’t hear Sweden’s ambassador say there would be no help from the EU so long as there was a lack of commitment to the GPA.
Ambassador Sten Rylander, whose country holds the EU presidency, said last week the renewed indictment and subsequent detention of Roy Bennett was “nothing less than provocative given the ongoing political processes in the country”.
“This action, taken just prior to very important donor discussions on Zimbabwe, together with other important developments recently — such as the implied threats against independent media practitioners and the intense attacks on Finance minister Tendai Biti in his efforts to pave the way for continued macro-economic reforms and debt relief — does not facilitate the ongoing dialogue to normalise relations with Zimbabwe,” Rylander said.
So much for re-engagement! And for those who have suggested Zimbabwe’s civil servants are professional and politically neutral, it would be useful to get George Charamba’s remarks on the record.
“The MDC-T has disengaged from nothing,” he said. “It’s sound and fury signifying nothing… There’s no amount of monkey business that will change things on the ground.”
Did somebody say professional? The MDC have been delinquent in allowing this partisan posturing to go on unchallenged. If Charamba doesn’t agree with the inclusive government, he should leave it. It is unconscionable to have one of the most senior public servants in the country publicly opposing laid-down government policy — and encouraging others to do the same thing.

The Zanu PF public relations machine has been telling us that Mugabe doesn’t care about the MDC walkout. It won’t change anything.
So why then does Mugabe in all his public pronouncements say how wonderfully well the GNU is working; how convivial relations are with Tsvangirai? Why does he tell investors that everything is going amazingly well and reforms are surging ahead?
The current claims that Mugabe doesn’t give a hoot about the boycott are manifestly at variance with his frantic messages of the past few weeks that include TV interviews, statements at the UN, and remarks made to parliament. You can’t one week say relations with your partners in the GNU are just fine and dandy and then the next week your spokesmen say they don’t give a damn that Tsvangirai no longer wants to work with you because you are an “unreliable partner”.
Surely, even those who want to show off their Shakespearean erudition can grasp that contradiction!

Our thanks to Professor Welshman Ncube for clarifying the issue. He pointed out that the incarceration of Bennett had the potential to cause a political crisis.
“The AG’s office should be sensitive to the fragile political environment and decisions should not be made recklessly,” he told a business meeting in Gweru before news of Bennett’s release became known. “There are people driven by a desire to undermine political stability,” he said. “Do you think that the incarceration of Bennett is so important that we can risk the entire collapse of the inclusive government and what it has achieved so far?”
Still on the Bennett case, we were interested to see President Ian Khama’s comments on the crisis in the GNU.
“If it was to collapse for genuine reasons,” Khama said, “we would certainly not recognise a Zanu-only government or certainly not one headed by President Robert Mugabe because he certainly did not win the presidential election last year.”
Phew Ian! That was three “certainlies” in the same sentence.
And there we were being told the other day in Kinshasa that Botswana had switched sides and now saw things from Zimbabwe’s point of view. “Certainly” not, it seems!

South Africa’s Department of International Cooperation spokesman Nomfanelo Kota said that as a member of Sadc, South Africa was “very concerned” about the latest developments in Zimbabwe.
He urged the parties to recommit themselves to the GPA and “move towards resolving outstanding issues”.
We don’t think he was talking about sanctions!
Meanwhile, back home the state media was telling us “Tsvangirai still PM”.
This was because Mugabe’s pompous officials were claiming he hadn’t got permission to travel outside the country. Ian Makone’s efforts to notify them were described as “frantic”. And Tsvangirai wouldn’t be getting any funds for his trip because it wouldn’t be of “benefit to government as a whole”.
Let’s hope Makone remembers that the next time Zanu PF wants one of its ministers to accompany his MDC counterpart overseas.

Then we had headings in the Herald like “Outrage over MDC-T decision”.
The “outrage” was shared by just four people out of the five interviewed in a “snap survey”. Among those responding was the Zimbabwe Sovereignty Preservers and Economic Survival Support Network. Ever heard of it? Nor have we. Its secretary-general, Kingston Chimbwanda “blasted the MDC-T’s ‘cry-baby’ attitude” and said their type of politics was “Bohemian”.
He didn’t elaborate but it could have something to do with gypsies.
It’s amazing isn’t it? The Herald is located in a city that voted overwhelmingly for the MDC-T in successive elections. But it can only find Zanu PF supporters in a “snap poll”. Quite a feat! And what on earth is the Zimbabwe Sovereignty Preservers and Economic Survival Network? Any relation of the Zimbabwe Heritage Project? Or Lawyers for Justice?
Is there a dark little room in Munhumutapa Building where these outfits are dreamt up?

Herbert Murerwa has been engaging in a bout of uncharacteristic demagoguery. He was quoted on Tuesday as saying Zimbabwe would not accept funding for the land audit from foreign countries and groups that want to push “dubious agendas”.
This was in the wake of the EU’s offer to assist with funding and expertise. The audit would only be carried out on the government’s terms, Murerwa asserted.
So what have you got to hide Herbert? There appears to be some panic in the ranks of the multiple-ownership gang. They want to hide their “dubious agendas”. Also, we should remember Zanu PF’s need to signal to its lootocratic followers that it is still in charge.
But at the same time donors need to emphasise the need for full disclosure in the interests of justice and fair play. Can you imagine the uproar if politicians were able to hang on to their ill-gotten gains.
EU governments would have difficulty justifying that to their constituents.

Last week, South African Justice minister Jeff Redebe told parliament in Cape Town that South Africa had halted all arms sales to Zimbabwe. He was answering a question from the Democratic Alliance.
Radebe, who heads the National Conventional Arms Control Committee, said since July South Africa had decided to halt all pending arms sales to Zimbabwe. But it would be sending arms to Venezuela, he said.
Strange how the state media didn’t think this story was important enough to carry. By the way, what came out of the talks between President Mugabe and Hugo Chavez last month?
Chavez is busy silencing Venezuela’s independent media. Meanwhile, he appears on government-controlled TV for hours at a time beating his chest and denouncing the “gringoes”. But unlike his newfound Zimbabwean allies, he likes Obama to whom he handed some reading matter recently. Obama was careful not to look too pleased!

Finally we note the Mo Ibrahim Foundation will not be making an award this year for good governance in Africa. Apparently there wasn’t any!

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