Propaganda machine does a good job

Squabbles in the MDC-T have escalated to full-on violence which can no longer be dismissed as Zanu (PF) stirring trouble. Two weeks ago, the party’s deputy national treasurer, Elton Mangoma, was assaulted by party members loyal to Morgan Tsvangirai, after he called for the party president to step down.

The Zanu (PF) propaganda machine has done a good job in portraying MDC-T youths as unruly.
The Zanu (PF) propaganda machine has done a good job in portraying MDC-T youths as unruly.

More recently, the home of secretary general Tendai Biti has been petrol-bombed following accusations he supports Mangoma’s call for leadership renewal. The irony of it all is that MDC-T supposedly stands for tolerance and free speech, yet some elements within the party have resorted to carrying out unprovoked acts of violence – something more readily associated with the ruling party.

It is indeed a sad moment when proponents of democracy are seen hurling missiles over a mere difference of opinion, more so if the target is one of their own. Mangoma, Biti and Tsvangirai all have one enemy and if youths within the party are angry, then they have directed their ire at the wrong people.

It came as no surprise when ZBC promptly dispatched the very impartial Reuben Barwe to the scene. State media, which in previous months spent hundreds of man-hours de-campaigning the opposition, was only too pleased to air the movie clip of Biti’s soot-blackened perimeter wall, alternating the disturbing visuals with images of a bedraggled Elton Mangoma, soon after his beating outside Harvest House.

The Zanu (PF) propaganda machine has done a good job in portraying MDC-T youths as unruly. Violence and political intolerance can never be condoned. But it must be remembered that the country has witnessed far worse. Many dead Zanu (PF) war heroes have been assisted to their deaths, several of which occurred under the front bumper of the ubiquitous army truck.

The MDC, lacking propaganda tools of their own, have been powerless to remind the electorate of these facts. What is very strange is that Barwe did not offer his unbiased coverage of events when Zanu (PF) members bludgeoned each other during the party’s provincial elections, which were marred by violence and accusations of vote rigging.

Meanwhile there are indications from Harvest House that the party’s congress, scheduled for 2016, might be brought forward, to enable the MDC-T to settle the continuing debate on leadership renewal.

We don’t hate Britain

At his 90th birthday party, Robert Mugabe could not end his speech without taking a swipe at ‘Britain and her allies.’ In what is the closest he has come to civility, the nonagenarian said ‘Britain we don’t hate you, we only love ourselves more.’ Britain’s reaction was to stiffen her upper lip and turn the other cheek, before releasing $10M to assist underprivileged Zimbabwean pupils who depend on the Basic Education Assistance Model at over 5,000 primary schools.

BEAM had all but collapsed, after most donors – many of them foreign – had withdrawn their assistance. This truly exposes the double standards of the Zanu (PF) government which clings to its mantra, ‘Zimbabwe will never be a colony again,’ while secretly extending a begging bowl to the very colonisers they seek to divorce.

Mugabe promised, among a host of things, the creation of 2,2 million jobs and the restoration of the dilapidated urban water delivery system in the next five years. So far he has delivered numerous company shutdowns and job losses. We have entered the 8th month of Mugabe’s 7th term in office and, still, the country is in stagnation. Either out of ill health or lack of ideas, the president is only visible at grand ceremonies: the UNWTO conference in Victoria Falls, the unveiling of Nkomo’s statue, heroes’ funerals, his lavish birthday party and an even more extravagant wedding for his daughter.

Rumours of illness

Amid rumours of illness, Mugabe has lately become uncharacteristically reclusive and, in reality, now merely a ceremonial president. ZimAsset, his party’s latest gimmick, has been spoken of ad-nauseam, but there have been no signs of its implementation or indeed its results. The corruption exposés of January have run their course after providing a diversion from the elephant trumpeting in the room – which is that Zanu (PF) has absolutely no idea how to deliver its 2013 election promises. Even when it was revealed that the Zimra boss earns over $300K per month, the public did not bat an eyelid.

As for the promise of new dams and piped water, there have been instead revelations of misappropriation of council funds, availed to Harare City Council by China’s Afrexim bank for the restoration of water supply infrastructure. Typhoid cases have been reported in Mabvuku, where clean running water is in short supply and raw sewerage often collects in pools inside the many potholes. From one area where water is in short supply, we have other regions where the problem is of too much water. Over 19,000 inhabitants of the Tokwe-Mukosi area are in need of assistance after floods washed away the little they possessed.

Against this backdrop of poverty, the country’s ceremonial president, only a week after blowing $1M at his birthday party, held a lavish wedding for his daughter, Bona. The bride did her shopping in the Far East and enlisted the services of a foreign caterer. The ZBC of course will have us believe that Grace, at one time Mugabe’s secretary, organised the whole event.

Marrying royalty

Mugabe’s team of hangers on – who recently were begging for foreign assistance in dealing with the Tokwe – Mukosi disaster – suddenly found enough money to throw a bachelor party for the groom.

Walter Mzembi told Mugabe’s new son-in-law, above with “princess” Bona,  that he was marrying into royalty.
Walter Mzembi told Mugabe’s new son-in-law, above with “princess” Bona, that he was marrying into royalty.

At the stag party, tourism minister, Walter Mzembi, told Mugabe’s new son-in-law that he was marrying into ‘royalty,’ which perhaps explains Mugabe’s 34-year rule. Perhaps he has developed notions of being a monarch. In any other part of the world, Mzembi would have been seen as brown-nosing but, in these parts, sucking up to the president is a necessary survival tactic.

The CMED, responsible for managing the government’s fleet, hired scores of luxury vehicles to ferry VIPs whose privileged bottoms would have otherwise been offended by anything that is not made of leather. The President’s yes-men also commandeered Zupco buses to ferry guests from far away locations, 150 of whom were students from the Bulawayo Hotel School, who provided free labour to ensure princess Bona’s special event occurred without any hitch.

Local government minister, Ignatius Chombo, directed the Harare city council to repair all roads leading to the wedding venue, hijacking resources that had been earmarked for other council projects. The cost of upgrade to the roads is estimated at a cool $1Million. Which is walk-around money, if you are the monarch of a mineral-rich country.

Whether Mugabe will reimburse the CMED its full costs is something that remains to be seen. It would certainly take a lot of milking before the revenue from Gushungo Dairy can make even a small dent in the massive wedding bill.

The fact that there has been little outrage at Mugabe’s blatant abuse of power can only be attributed to the populace – for so long exposed to vice – becoming numb to such obvious presidential corruption. – My pen is capped. Jerà

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