10 TheStandard September 14 to 20 2014 Comment & Analysis LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Leaders need wisdom more than degrees Tsvangirai, Pistorius: The media’s ‘poster boys’ ZIMBABWEAN politicians now rank among the most educated officials in Africa but their record in government is appalling to say the least. While their academic credentials may be impeccable, their performance leaves one with an impression they lack common sense and basic problem-solving skills needed to rescue the country from an economic crisis. Flashback to 2007. When a Cabinet full of people with doctorate degrees was confronted with a fuel crisis, President Robert Mugabe, who boasts of seven degrees, and his ministers with Ph.Ds turned to Rotina Mavhunga, a Grade 11 drop out. The self-styled spirit medium misled them into believing that diesel could flow out of the rocks of Maningwa Mountain near Chinhoyi. Rotina’s aides simply bought the diesel from haulage trucks passing near the mountain, put it into plastic containers which she hid up some rocks and siphoned the fuel using a pipe, making it flow over the rocks — and bingo, she had the barefoot Cabinet ministers clapping their hands with glee! They all swallowed the trickery hook, line and sinker and Rotina was showered with expensive gifts. After this embarrassing debacle, the same group of ministers believed that by planting jatropha, Zimbabwe could also banish her fuel problems for good. As a result, US$5 million was wasted in constructing a bio-diesel plant that is now rotting in Mt Hampden. There are too many examples that show how our Ph.D holding ministers can become clueless when confronted with national problems. In many cases, their conduct leaves one doubting if they genuinely acquired their degrees, or if some fawning universities just gave them titles for self-gratification. It is against this background that Zimbabweans woke up on Saturday to see pictures of Vice-President Joice Mujuru and First Lady Grace Mugabe in full academic dress, having graduated with doctorate degrees at the University of Zimbabwe. Lazarus Dokora, the minister of Primary and Secondary education also graduated with a doctorate. Ironically, Dokora stands accused of harming Zimbabwe’s education system through a raft of unpopular policies. Grace has ruffled many feathers in her bid to be elevated to the Zanu PF politburo. These officials might have sweated to get their doctorates, but they need to do more to convince the nation that the degrees will enhance their ability to positively contribute to the social, political and economic sectors of the Zimbabwean society. There is one thread so strongly similar about Morgan Tsvangirai and Oscar Pistorius which I thought I should share with other readers. In their respective countries, these two were underdogs who triumphed over adversity with varying degrees of success. People tend to love underdogs. Tsvangirai offers the story of an uneducated man who rose from being a mere mine worker to lead a labour union, eventually persuading university academics, student leaders and civil society leaders to form the first ever credible post-independence opposition party to challenge Robert Mugabe’s grip on power. Fifteen years down the line, Tsvangirai’s endurance still makes headline news having bagged the Prime Ministerial post at one time — right under the nose and tutelage of his erstwhile political foe Mugabe. Pistorious comes across as a double amputee who awed the world with his speed using prosthetic legs. We are told Pistorious grew up as an amputee, who through his late mother’s encouragement and sheer hardwork, has scaled the zenith of his adopted sport to the pinnacle. What makes these two guys interesting to me is where they stand today vis-à-vis their past relationship with the media in their respective countries and even beyond their borders. They have even charmed the likes of BBC and CNN in the past. During their rise to fame, the media understandably fell for these underdogs who had to endure strong and often humiliating challenges. Their backgrounds presented a narrative of breathtaking courage. Such characters obliviously attract media attention not by their own volition, but the circumstances under which their energies and willpower are tested. Pistorious transformed man’s understanding and perception towards the “able-bodied”. The media could not be blind to this. How could Tsvangirai succeed where struggle stalwarts like Edgar Tekere and Joshua Nkomo failed? Where even such consummate lawyers like former Supreme Court Judge Chief Justice Enock Dumbutshena, had failed with his Forum Party. How could Pistorious win legal battles to run and represent Oscar Pistorius . . . he disappointed a lot of people who viewed him as a role model for the disabled. MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai . . . he has offered hope and disillusionment in equal measure. his country with prosthetic legs at the Olympics, of all places and even come back home with a gold medal! Such facts surpass human thinking and attract positive coverage from the media. Even some of their glaring goofs are left unscrutinised for fear of embellishing these adorable characters. Both Tsvangirai and Pistorious have had their human failings exposed in the past. Tsvangirai’s electoral loss has always been attributed to Zanu PF chicanery. The 2005 MDC split was attributed to a “power-hungry” Welshman Ncube who could not stomach being led by an indecisive leader. Today, the media face another challenge of Tsvangirai exposing his dictatorial tendencies given the way Elton Mangoma’s renewal call was handled by Tsvangirai, with the subsequent expulsion of other perceived anti-Tsvangirai cadres. The media finds itself in a dilemma. How do they repackage such a battered image of one who offered so much hope against tyranny, corruption, nepotism and incompetence? How do we discard such a horse in politics? Equally, in South Africa and elsewhere, the media finds it hard to take that Pistorius has committed such a dastardly act of killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. Both men seem to have fallen victim to the underdog sense of moral exception: they are right while everybody else is wrong. In some quarters, as the public dramas have played out, both men have forfeited their victim status. In Zimbabwe, the public media will have a field day over the Biti-Tsvangirai battle. The private media and most anti-Mugabeists in Zimbabwe would be at pains to label the “daring” Tsvangirai the catalyst to the breaking up of a once formidable 1999 MDC. Public opinion about Tsvangirai is divided. There are many reasons why some media houses remain loyal to Tsvangirai ranging from atavistic adherence to the anti-Mugabe stance, to the fact that most Zimbabweans’ lives had improved during the GNU era. Like I said, there had not been, until now, a credible black-led opposition in Zimbabwe. A Tsvangirai-led MDC has also sold newspapers. Few are willing to bite the hand that feeds them. For the many young teenage girls in South Africa and other disabled young people Pistorius was the ultimate loverboy, warrior and hero. These two men have not only left the media in a quagmire, but also thousands and millions of sympathisers just cannot understand why. The jury is still out. Odrix Mhiji, Chitungwiza Help households to manage litter DiDyMus Mutasa (with Jersey) claps hands in Maningwa hills where Rotina Mavhunga played her tricks. There are a lot of anti-littering signs along roads. What has given rise to these are the irreponsible litter-bugs among us. It is a fact that Harare City Council cannot cope with the mountains of litter that residents generate on a daily basis. They have always argued that they do not have enough vehicles, manpower and sometimes fuel to remove garbage either from the city centre or residential areas. Dumping waste recklessly, just like ignoring a veld fire, attracts a fine, if not a jail erm. We need the Environmental Management Agency to educate people on ways to manage litter. Litter should be separated at household level with plastics being sent for recycling. It would help to have small composts at each household where biodegradable matter would be deposited and later used in the garden. I am angry with people who actually drive in the night to go and dump their domestic waste at open spaces or on the shoulders of the roads. They leave an assortment of litter that includes used diapers. Stray dogs rip them apart and what we have is something that one cannot look at twice. We are an educated lot, but we lack wisdom. Each one of us must be an anti-litter police of sorts for a cleaner environment. Anti-littering wHERE TO wRITE TO uS Write to us at email@example.com or to Letters, PO Box BE1165, Belvedere, Harare, or SMS to 0772 472 500. Letters should be short and to the point. They must carry the writer’s name and address, even if a nom de plume is used. Letters published in other papers are less likely to be used in ours.
Comment & Analysis TheStandard September 14 to 20 2014 11 ONLINE FEEDBACK OPINION Dr Grace Mugabe: Now the sky is the limit! the oracle BY TANGAI CHIPANGURA In his traditional interviews granted to ZTV every February to mark his birthday, President Mugabe this year said he was sticking on to the leadership of his party and therefore country because he was afraid his party would disintegrate due to factional fissures that have been growing deeper by the day. He also confirmed that, even at the age of 90, he did not want anyone to discuss his retirement or succession because it was not yet due — that he was still around and not going anywhere! Mugabe said: “But why should it [succession] be discussed when it’s not due? Is it due? Well, the leadership still exists that runs the country. In other words, I am still there. The people can discuss it if they want, but the moment they start discussing it, they are going into factions and then you find the party dividing itself, and so why dividing, why discuss it when it’s not due? “When the day comes and I retire, that’s sure, the day will come. What I don’t want is, I don’t want to leave my party in tatters; I want to leave it intact.” With these words coming from his mouth, little doubt remains that Mugabe entertains the idea of being Life President — of dying in office. The message he sends is that he has the desire and ambition to stay in power and his excuse is that the situation in Zanu PF and Zimbabwe has become so bad it is only him that can save the country. Watching and listening to him speak — relating how Americans and Europeans fear and hide away from him each time they see him, “because of the power that you have invested in me” — you cannot doubt the man’s strength and determination. It is evident the President is brimming with ambition to take the throne to the grave. Of course, the excuses advanced for the permanent occupancy of the throne are just the typical platefuls of bull that we eat up PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe from our politicians day in and day out. Just as almost all those eagle-eyed politicians would have us believe that none of them harbour Presidential ambitions — that they are all there for nothing but to be the people’s servants — we know all that is lies and that virtually all of them have keen ambition to one day become President! While in other countries political power (inter or intra party) is exchanged after a few years, politicians in Zanu PF all pretend that they actually do not want the apex seat in the party and country yet, behind the scenes vicious fights amongst this cowardly lot rage night and day. They are all simply too cowardly to stand up and challenge for the top post which each of them long for. But then again, Mugabe’s intimidating utterances about there being “no vacancy” for his post and about “succession debates not due” do not help matters. Those men and women whom Zanu PF renegade, the diminutive firebrand Margret Dongo once described as Mugabe’s wives, are then thrown into dark corners of silence or into a bootlicking frenzy. Nonetheless Zanu PF politicians must know that it is absurd for them to deny they want power — such denials are just red meat on the platter. In any case, it would also be absurd for us to believe their denials. After all, there is virtually nothing wrong or criminal or disrespectful or immoral about being an ambitious politician. What is interesting however is that, while they may publicly castigate those “accused” of seeking to grab the throne from Mugabe, there are certain politicians whose inadvertent speeches and or actions have betrayed their presidential ambitions. So, surrounded by fearful comrades, most of whom have in fact been scrambling to idolise him and make him an infallible demigod, Mugabe is tempted to make himself Life President, or to create a Mugabe dynasty in Zimbabwe. Already, the President has declared that everyone, including the usually exempted members of the presidium, is going to have to fight for their positions at the coming December congress. There are only two exceptions — only two people that cannot be challenged — Mugabe and his wife Grace. Mugabe and his wife have conveniently been endorsed in their positions of party President and Women’s League Secretary. But for the distant observer, it just does not look exactly clean, innocent, moral, decent or prissy that everybody but the leader and his wife must face challenges for their positions — that only the leader and his wife must not be challenged! In the circumstances, the possibility of the creation of a Gu-Shung-Ho dynasty becomes difficult to discount — given the overwhelming authority of the President. Now that the First Lady, Grace Mugabe’s official title becomes: The First Lady, Comrade Secretary for Women’s Affairs, Dr. Grace Mugabe — the Sky is the Limit! Feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org RESPONDING to the opinion piece; Zanu PF secrets: Mutsvangwa must tell it all (TheStandard September 6 to 13 2014) Mapingu writes: While I do agree with Mutizwa on almost all issues he raised, I only want to say, may be just a single drop of truth for whatever purpose its revealed, makes the ocean better than one filled with lies. True, [Chris] Mutsvangwa, like all Zanu PF officials is not honest and patriotic by any measure, hence his highly selective pronouncement of truth. Most of us who were of age during the struggle have always known that Joice [Mujuru] never downed any plane. It has all been a figment of Zanu PF elite’s imagination calculated to propel individuals to positions they don’t deserve under the guise of such past heroic expeditions. The beauty of it is, since it now comes from another Zanu PF cadre, then our most abused youth might start realising that most of the rubbish sold to them as “History of the Struggle” is worse than James Bond fiction. Immediately after Mutsvangwa revealed this well-known element of truth one young man who I believe has always doubted me when I said most of Zanu PF heroes, including Joice, are Zanu PF manufactured heroes, immediately phoned me and said “now bro I believe you; all along I thought you were bluffing”. All I am saying is, may be it’s the beginning of the writing of a truthful Zimbabwe struggle history. All along it has been lies, lies, lies, lies. Zanu PF lies. Col Shadow writes: “Never in a thousand years” was what Smith said during the struggle .Think like a revolutionary. We fought and won the struggle. What’s so amazing about differences in the house? Don’t try to make a mountain out of an anthill, it’s us Zanla /Zipra and the patriotic Zimbabweans who liberated this country. Mutsvangwa is justified. Patriotism comes with pride and costs that cannot be measured .Waivepi iwewe? [where were you?] No Lies says: The whole truth will surface one day. The question is, will it be of any good? Every time some information comes up about where we came from as a country we start realising that we’ve been fed with lies all along. This makes us question everything about our so-called heroes and doubt their decision -making as leaders, that’s why we find ourselves in this current situation where we are led by people who got to their positions through lies and they appoint their friends not on merit but as a way to buy their silence. The big question is: Who are our true heroes? Do they exist? Who are our enemies? Are our so-called heroes our enemies, just in a different skin colour ? Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe TheStandard newspaper subscribes to a Code of Conduct that promotes truthful, accurate, fair and balanced news reporting. If we do not meet these standards, register your complaints with the Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe at No 34, Colenbrander Rd, Milton Park Harare. Telephone us at 04-778096 or 04- 778006 24 Hr Complaints line: 0772 125 659 Email: email@example.com or info@ vmcz.co.zw Whatsapp: 0772 125 658 Twitter: @vmcz Website: http://www.vmcz.co.zw Facebook page: vmcz Zimbabwe AMH subscribes to truthful, accurate and fair reporting. Do we measure up? If you don't think so, please report all unethical conduct to THE OMBUDSMAN Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or write to: Alpha Media Holdings Block 1 Third Floor, 1 Kwame Nkrumah Ave, Harare