Money to build? What drugs are you on?

Ignatius Chombo has established a commission to investigate corruption in the sale of stands in Chitungwiza. The council cannot afford to supply clean water and raw sewage gurgles from burst pipes. Yet, members of Chombo’s commission (one of them his deputy minister) each earn $900 a day. Total remuneration is expected to be $300,000.

Chombo
Chombo

It costs $10,000 to construct a three-bedroomed high-density house. At this rate, Chombo may as well build houses for all those he bulldozed during Murambatsvina.

It is mystifying that we need a team of $900-a-day commissioners to confirm what is already known – Zanu (PF) chefs parcelled out land to buy votes. What special skills do these commissioners possess to justify a salary of $900 a day, three times higher than a teacher’s monthly pay?

Chombo’s deputy, Biggie Matiza, has said government will launch a national housing programme “soon”. Just like we will ‘soon’ see NRZ back on track, ‘soon’ see clean water gushing from our taps and ‘soon’ see 2m jobs created by Zanu (PF).

Anybody who believes government has the money to construct a telephone booth, let alone thousands of homes, is using a potent strain of hallucinogen. Only last week, teachers who marked grade 7 examinations were each paid a cool $2 (yes, twenty rands) and now Chinamasa’s coffers are so dry that he is contemplating the shameful act of taxing churches.

Even the Biblical shyster, Zacchaeous the taxman, did not shake down the clergy.

More taxes

Transport minister, Obert Mpofu, is threatening to introduce urban tolls. Motorists struggle to renew vehicle licences and, in Harare, some have resorted to parking their cars on the periphery of the CBD just to avoid paying the hourly parking fee of $1. It therefore follows that motorists can’t afford to pay these proposed tolls. In past years, roads were maintained by funds collected through normal taxation. Suddenly Zanu (PF) wants motorists to fork out extra money to maintain roads that they allowed to crumble.

Harare’s hawker horror

Like a roguish boy squashing ants, the Harare City Council has embarked on a blitz against illegal vendors, dubbed ‘Street Vending Regedzai.’ The troops have already been mobilised and bulldozers primed for action.

When the council halted its operation to demolish homes, all that pent-up energy had to go somewhere, so street vendors have become the target.

If our administrators focus on development, small problems like unlicensed vending will fix themselves. Illegal vending is not a problem but a symptom of joblessness, which cannot be remedied by wanton arrests and confiscation of cabbages and tomatoes, but by job creation.

We must also remember that street vendors will resort to crime if the council continues to thwart their only honest means of survival.

It is typical of those in power to attach fancy labels to their acts of cruelty – ‘Murambatsvina,’ ‘Gukurahundi’ and now ‘Street Vending Regedzai.’ Malice by any other name is still malice.

Guillotine falls

Media minister Jonathan Moyo has sacked the entire ZBC board for failure to create a turnaround strategy for the troubled broadcaster.

Happison Muchechetere – chief bootlicker of President Mugabe – and his finance director, Elliot Kasu, have been placed on enforced leave, and Moyo wants a forensic audit of the state-owned broadcaster. We are all happy, son. Heh-heh.

Workers at ZBC have gone unpaid for months while, according to rumour, their bosses pocket $20,000 a month. The CEO’s oily face is proof of the disparity in remuneration between management and the workers.

Looking at the disbanded ZBC board, one would think it was the company profile of a munitions supplier – Major General Gibson Mashingaidze, Brigadier Benjamin Mabenge, Brigadier Felix Muchemwa. It is hardly a surprise that these triggermen were clueless about running a corporation. ZBC’s Achilles’ heel is that its mission is to buttress Mugabe’s regime and management is selected for party loyalty and combat credentials. Business know-how is irrelevant.

The makeup of the board also gives credence to Tsvangirai’s call for media reforms. Muchechetere wears the title ‘Comrade,’ reflecting his allegiance to Zanu (PF). It was, therefore, not a huge surprise when ZBC refused to air the election adverts of the MDC (a paying customer).

Enemy of the state

Ishmael Kauzani who allegedly torched Zanu (PF) Machipisa offices and Jongwe Printers (also Zanu owned) has appeared in court on charges of attempting to overthrow the government, attempted murder and destruction of property.

The prosecution team believes that the attacks were part of an operation involving ex-army personnel. In our experience, the next thing that will happen is a series of mysterious car accidents.

While Kauzani might be declared an enemy of the state, it is important to remember that 34 years ago, those in power were called terrorists. Ishmael Kauzani: saboteur or hero? Time will tell.

Who’s got the keys to my Prado?

Finance minister, Patrick Chinamasa, recently admitted that government still owed money to former MPs for allowances. Chinamasa has failed to deliver a budget because there is no money to budget.

It is therefore shocking to learn that the fleet of new motor vehicles for parliamentarians and ministers – 250 Isuzus and 20 Prados – in a country with no tap water, will cost $16m.

Who will watch the watchman?

The CEO of the Zimbabwe anti-corruption commission, Ngonidzashe Gumbo, has a $400,000 fraud charge hovering ominously over his neck like a guillotine. The corruption fighter overstated the price for property he purchased on behalf of ZACC and pocketed the difference. We ask: who will guard the guard?

Secretly British

Robert Mugabe’s daughter, Bona, has graduated with a master’s degree in finance.

Bona has killed three birds with one stone. Firstly, she has made her parents proud; secondly she showed the Zimbabwean capacity for improvisation, by managing to circumvent British sanctions. Bona is not permitted to set foot on British soil but still wangled a degree from the University of Wales, which she obtained through the Management Development Institute of Singapore, an affiliate of the Welsh academy. And thirdly, she has proved we don’t need the “imperialist Breetish”.

This is Bona fide proof of Mugabe’s hypocrisy – he who strains to carry himself like a British gent, yet habitually hurls insults at Britain. Mugabe – one time patron of Zimbabwe’s tennis team and a huge fan of cricket, before declaring war on Breetish – with his English twang, gave his approval of the Singaporean academy and pledged to award scholarships for students to study at the institution.

Mugabe should fix the local universities which have collapsed under his 33-year rule of horror, rather than send our children to study abroad.

Legendary Lessing

Doris Lessing, of Grass Is Singing fame, has died aged 94. Although Lessing was British, she grew up in Zimbabwe and attended Harare’s Dominican Convent High School. She leaves behind an incredible legacy of more than 50 books published and a Nobel Prize in literature. In contrast, Grace’s legacy is millions of taxpayers’ dollars spent on building Gracelands. Tinopona’s legacy is a risqué homemade movie. Nowhere else is the adage ‘different strokes for different folks’ better illustrated. – Till next week, my pen is capped. [email protected]

Doris Lessing
Doris Lessing

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