He was recalling an earlier era when, it was said, the sun never set on the British Empire.
The account by Tendai Manzvanzvike in Saturday’s Herald suggests Mugabe sang it as “Rule Britannia, Britannia rule the world”, when it should of course be “Rule Britannia, Britannia rule the waves”.
It is an evocation rather than a statement of fact. Mugabe is unlikely to have got it wrong, learning to sing it as a schoolboy alongside God Save the King.
But whatever the case, the spectacle of the perfect English gentleman, as he is known to biographers, belting out Britannia’s clarion call to its sons with the stirring injunction, “At Heaven’s command”, must have bewildered the gathered comrades who put aside their fractious pursuits for five minutes to listen to their tuneful first secretary.
Another thing that caught our attention was the report of Didymus Mutasa’s administration department to the Central Committee. It stated that it was an “undeniable and very important fact that we tell our people that the positive economic changes that we are beginning to experience as a direct result of the multi-currency system have been made possible by policies formulated and implemented by the Zanu PF government”.
Should we laugh or cry? Here is a party that has done everything possible to sabotage the economy and is still deterring investment by its seizure of farms and property.
This is the same party that hung on to the Zimdollar despite the inflationary damage it was doing and only agreed to let go as recently as Patrick Chinamasa’s budget at the beginning of the year. It was left to Tendai Biti to stabilise the economy, while the Zanu FP comrades thought up new ways to block reform.
Mugabe was only recently contemplating the Zimdollar’s reintroduction before the end of the year. Even Gideon Gono, the Zimdollar’s errant godfather, had to intervene at that point to say it couldn’t be done.
Now Zanu PF wants to take credit for the turnaround we are experiencing.
We recall all the past turnarounds that didn’t work. Now we have one that does work, Zanu PF wants to grab it!
Fortunately nobody will believe the claim that Zanu PF authored the recovery. How many people outside the conference hall associate Zanu PF with recovery?
Mugabe cannot disguise his irritation that the country doesn’t share his disdain for Roy Bennett. His fossilised views on race clearly find no purchase with today’s generation.
“Open your eyes,” he told the MDC-T. “This is your country and not for whites. Not the Bennetts. They are settlers. Even if they were born here they are offspring of settlers.”
Here is a head of state stigmatising one section of the population as not entitled to the same rights as others on the grounds of race. Let that be a matter of record.
Fortunately Mugabe’s blandishments cut no ice with voters and it is highly significant that Bennett remains one of the most popular figures in the country despite Mugabe’s repeated denunciations. His palpable frustration says it all!
The irrelevance of Mugabe’s message to Congress was best reflected in the suggestion that “there was a need to reverse the uncanny and insidious encroachments by treacherous Western-sponsored political formations and a host of fake NGOs that have hidden their regime-change intentions under the convenient but false cover of claims about the rule of law, human rights and property rights”.
So the president doesn’t believe there have been human rights violations or any interference with the rule of law? What did the courts rule in the Mukoko case? What happened to Morgan Tsvangirai, Sekai Holland and Lovemore Madhuku at Highfield police station in 2007 that led to Sadc’s involvement? How “false” were those episodes when Mugabe boasted afterwards that Tsvangirai got “bashed”?
So, in the same speech Mugabe claims in reference to Bennett that white Zimbabweans don’t have the same rights as their black compatriots and then says NGOs are working under the “false cover” of human rights.
We would have thought his remarks provided evidence of just why Zimbabweans need human rights NGOs to keep a record of such things and to alert the world to Zanu PF’s malignancy.
The South African comrades are meanwhile having ructions of their own.
ANC Youth League president Julius Malema, whose head has been swelling by the day, encountered a roadblock last weekend when he was booed, along with Tony Yengeni and Billy Masetlha, at a special conference of the South African Communist Party in Polokwane, according to the Sunday Times.
The three had been introduced to the audience as delegates of the ANC.
Malema slammed SACP chair (and ANC secretary-general) Gwede Mantashe for failing to protect him from the SACP comrades.
It was a great spectacle, we gather.
Malema, who fancies his chances as a future president, is none too popular in the SACP after accusing their deputy secretary-general Jeremy Cronin of behaving like “a white messiah” when he publicly condemned Malema’s call for the nationalisation of mines. Cronin said the call was inspired by struggling black economic empowerment capitalists who wanted government bailouts.
Young Communist League general secretary Buti Manamela described Malema as “a drama queen” who did not deserve any red-carpet treatment at the SACP conference.
“Today we have ministers, deputy ministers, MPs, MECs and various titles co-determined together with the ANC and Cosatu.
“This is not a reflection of the generosity of the ANC,” Manamela declared, “but a reflection of the strength of the SACP.”
Mantashe had reprimanded the comrades for booing the ANC delegation, but Malema felt this was inadequate.
Rural Electrification Agency chief executive Vurayayi Guvakuva’s effort to defend the unsustainable rural electrification programme in the Sunday Mail last weekend did not address the concerns raised in the Zimbabwe Independent last week. The programme is a populist exercise meant to help Zanu PF hold on to its rural supporters who have been its backbone for the past 30 years.
Guvakuva should admit to that. But in the PR piece in which he was purportedly interviewed by Business editor Augustine Moyo, he did not tell us whether any tariffs are being collected from the electrified rural areas. It was also interesting to know that 6% of all tariffs collected from areas where it is possible to do so, namely the cities, the mines, industry and commerce, is thrown into this project for no return at all.
Zesa should now tell us what percentage of the tariffs collected is used to refurbish our power stations so they continue to generate power. Our contention last week was: Which should receive top priority, generating more power or expanding the grid when the country is facing a huge power deficit? By the way Mr Guvakuva, how many hours a day do these rural outposts have electricity so that the glamorous projects you wax lyrical about become remotely close reality?
Finally, Muckraker was sad to see the near-disappearance of Santa Claus from our Christmas scene. Despite Zimbabwe’s location in the sub-tropics, Santa was a regular visitor to department stores and malls around the country meeting the needs of generations of demanding youngsters.
So we are delighted to report that Santa was spotted alive and well in Greatermans this week. The photo below shows Standard senior staffer Ndamu Sandu’s daughter Makanaka (3) looking delighted with her visit to Mr Claus.
We didn’t see his sleigh or reindeer because they were reportedly circling the block looking for parking.