State Owned Zimbabwe Herald Praises Thabo Mbeki

Here is an excerpt from the Zimbabwe Herald today:

Mbeki deserves special honour
“… President Mbeki needs to be specially commended and honoured by the whole Zimbabwean leadership and people for the sterling work that he has been doing in the past eight years. His “quiet diplomacy” and “soft power”, are actually not as quiet as the world wants to believe.

The backlash against President Mbeki’s presidency and his own personality has been immense. This is why Zimbabwe, as we celebrate 28 years of nationhood today, should say a big “THANK YOU” to this gallant son of Africa, just as we are saying thank you again to our gallant sons and daughters who sacrificed limb and soul for the independence of this nation. There is no substitute for genuine friendship; just like there will be no substitute for homegrown, genuine regional co-operation and integration. The least we can do is name one of our roads after Cde Mbeki and give him the freedom of the City of Harare.

As Wafawarova put it: “President Mbeki has had to face the agony of eight-and-a-half years of a crisis-waving Britain, but the ever alert and revolutionary Mbeki has not been fooled, even once. He saw no crisis with the land reclamation . . . He saw no crisis with the 2000, 2002 and 2005 elections . . .”

Apart from his now famous “No crisis in Zimbabwe” statement, President Mbeki also made the same statement a week earlier when he told dinner guests in London: “We have been very pleased with the manner in which the elections were conducted; the opposition had access to every part of the country, there was no violence, no one was beaten up. You have a very serious effort by the people of Zimbabwe to resolve their problems, we could see there was a common spirit among them and that’s the sense we got. And in the conduct of the election none of the parties came back to us to intervene to say something was going wrong.”

Something wrong with this picture
One has to ALWAYS take whatever is said in this Mugabe-an mouthpiece with a couple of bags of salt because it perpetuates half truths and lies nearly all of the time. However, there is an old maxim that says: The enemy of my enemy is my friend and the friend of my enemy is my enemy… or something like that, at least.

Is Robert Mugabe busy blowing sunshine up Mbeki’s behind? Or is Mugabe viewing Mbeki as a friend because he has not, at the face of it, quite given in to the pressure from within and from without South Africa? Or is Thabo Mbeki being viewed as a real friend by Robert Mugabe because he has maintained his soft (or is it wet) approach to the land grabs and the election fixing over the years?

In the final paragraph above, Thabo Mbeki is quoted by the Herald to be saying that All is Well. This may indeed be quoted out of context, or some measure of poetic license may have been applied to it. Who knows? However, regardless of the context, saying that there was no violence etc on the day of the election and then failing to mention the extent of the violence in the nearly three weeks post election, is highly irresponsible, fairly manipulating and somewhat dishonest.

The Political Plague in Africa
Behind the words in the Herald, Mugabe’s imperialistic rhetoric and Mbeki’s deafening silence, is one of the reasons why democracy in Africa is such a resounding failure.

For some reason, some of the African governments have not quite heard the penny drop that when they are democratically elected, they ARE governments and NOT liberation movements any longer. Because the majority of the population support them and have legally and democratically illustrated such support, the whole boring story of Struggle, is neither relevant nor appropriate.

But, for some reason – perhaps it is an attempt to use the past to play the audience – these elected leaders don’t move on, don’t salute the past and embrace the future, and don’t lift their eyes to the horizon. Their regressive behaviour debilitates progressive behaviour. It kills growth and it kills development.

Countries such as Botswana have not stepped into this trap of self-pitying retrospective-ness. That is why their economy is sound, their political landscape stable and their incidence of crime very low when compared to the rest of the continent. Now, Ian Seretse Khama is carrying the torch, which he took over from Festus Mogae, which he took over Quett Masire, which he took over from Ian Khama’s father: Sir Seretse Khama. A torch that burns brightly and that should be viewed as an example of what can be achieved, (by doing the right things), by their counterparts in Africa.

President Mbeki has done many right things during his term, but he has also failed miserably in others – the latest being his inability to manage the abominable situation in Zimbabwe. Fortunately it is nearing the time for him to step down: time to allow somebody younger, somebody more visionary and somebody bearing less baggage to carry the South African torch forward. There is political talent enough in our country. And, when we hold our elections next year, may the best man…or woman…win.

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Bullard Fired: What happened to Freedom of Speech?

David Bullard is fired for being offensive in his last column, they say. But, methinks Sunday Times Editor, Mondli Makhanya, had some outside pressures to send the irreverent Bullard packing. Perhaps one of our politicians had a sense of humour failure when he read the last column Bullard wrote. Who knows? Makhanya does, but his approach is deny-deny-deny.

 

The truth about Bullard is that you either love him or you hate him. There is nothing tepid about his Out to Lunch column. He does not pull any punches where the failure of government to deliver is concerned. He openly points out corruption, he bravely calls the Greedy, greedy and he plainly names the Incompetent, incompetent. He irreverently mocks the (exaggerated) political correctness of South Africans – the lengths they are prepared to go to prove that they are not racist: how they walk on eggs when having to choose words to describe people on the basis of colour. With Bullard there is NO holy cow. This time he may have stepped on the tail of somebody else’s.

But is that not what freedom of press is all about?

 

In Zimbabwe, journalists are not allowed to write things as they see or experience it. Their opinions have to meekly reflect that of the powers that be. Here I have always believed that life is different. Even if I don’t agree with the opinions aired by a columnist (and columnists are meant to be opinionated), I still respect that opinion for what it is – an opinion. With Bullard being fired because he held opinions that are, as Mondli Makhanya put it: “extremely, extremely, extremely offensive and totally against the values of the Sunday Times and the country.”, I cannot help but feel more than just a little concerned.

 

Must columnists now bow to the opinion of the paper they write for and by what (or whose) authority does Mr. Makhanya speak on behalf of the country? His comment on 702 reeked like the typical comments made by Anonymous Editor in the Zimbabwean Herald. (Refer my third to last blog entry).

 

Given the set of circumstances, does it mean that we in South Africa are now in a situation where freedom of speech is conditional and that having an opinion is limited? Do journalists and columnists alike now have to kowtow to ‘those-in-high-places-who-could-take-offence” in order to retain their jobs?

 

If this is the case, and I have no evidence to prove the contrary, a very sad day has dawned indeed.

 

The Mugabe… I mean… The Zimbabwe Herald Today

You have to read the state-owned Zimbabwe Herald to appreciate just how ridiculously extensive Mugabe-an control over this excuse-for-a-newspaper is. If the matter was not so serious, it could even be downright funny – like a good old April Fool’s Joke. His propaganda litters all the pages, at an enormous density per square inch. There is no attempt to camouflage it – on the contrary, it is right in your face.

 

The editor and the journalists are anonymous as are most of the sources quoted. The golden thread of the paper is that the mess Zim finds it in is no fault of Mugabe: There are strong conspiracy-type theory undertones; and everything and everybody other than Bob, are blamed. The underlying message is venom and hate. Not a pleasurable reading experience at all.

 

Here are some of the headlines forced on their captive readership today:

 

Headline 1: ‘Tsvangirai Begs for VP Post’ by anonymous Herald Reporters

“MDC faction leader Morgan Tsvangirai asked Zanu-PF to accommodate him as one of the Vice Presidents in a government of national unity after being told by his advisors that a possible run-off with President Mugabe for the top job was not in his best interests, The Herald can reveal…”

Okay, you get the gist… the rest of the article – all 975 words – quoted a variety of sources – all of which were (naturally) anonymous and, to appease the Zanu-PF handler, a fair dollop of Anti-MDC Anti-Tsvangirai Anti-The-Rest-OF-The-Evil-World propaganda was added for good measure.

 

 

Headline 2: ‘Don’t withhold goods; Govt warns business’ by anonymous Herald Reporters

“GOVERNMENT expects the business sector to fulfil its social responsibility by ensuring continued supply of basic commodities as opposed to dabbling in politics as part of the regime change agenda, a senior official has said.”

This comes in the wake of the increasingly empty shelves in the Zimbabwean shops. So, what is the reaction of Mugabe? You are right, blame business for this and be silent about the fact that his government has not been importing enough Maize and that they are not exactly paying their Maize accounts either…  and, to be honest, the warning is not a warning, it is a threat…

 

Headline 3: ‘Let’s protect heritage during run-off’ by anonymous Editor

“Fellow Zimbabweans, as we head for a possible presidential run-off, let us make an informed decision best for the future generations and us.”

Starting with an impassioned appeal the remainder of the article launches into a full frontal attack on white settlers: past present and future. He pointed to the fate of Malawi under British influence and extolled the virtues of the Cubans. Anonymous editor neither made an attempt at disguising his racial hate speak, nor of his intentions to fuel it. Quite chilling, actually.

 

Headline 4: Poll results: Solve anomalies first by anonymous Editor

“I have been following election-related events over the past few days and conspiracies and counter-conspiracies that have been emerging over delays in announcing presidential poll results.”

Naturally, Editor blames it all on the MDC. He accuses them of rigging, tampering, yak, yak, yak… and then – as could be expected – dedicates the second half of the article to hurling a variety of personal insults at Morgan Tsvangirai.  

 

Headline 5: White Farmers Free to Apply for Land by {nobody}

“WE salute the police for moving in to stop the new wave of farm occupations that threatened to engulf the countryside, and war veterans for heeding police directives to move out of the farms they occupied in retaliation to threats by hordes of white former commercial farmers.”

Yup, hordes, I am sure…there were 4,000 to start of with, but that was a long, long time ago. Now there are only 300, minus 8, and they are spread all over the country. Be that as it may.., The article warns (or threatens, you decide) these imaginary hordes of farmers that:  ”…those who are lucky enough to still hold farms continue harbouring the unrepentant farmers without counselling against provocative actions, they only serve to brew mistrust in the State and the populace. This mistrust may culminate in a take-over of the remaining white-held farms for distribution to landless black Zimbabweans, many of whom are on the waiting list.” Then, in the very last sentence white farmers who have left Zim are invited to return where they can “apply for resettlement just like other citizens.” Need I say more? Perhaps, best that I don’t.

 

 

On the off-beat side, the property and entertainment sections of the newspaper were …well…empty. I wonder why?