LESOTHO Prime Minister Tom Motsoahae Thabane, on what the government called a "state visit" to Zimbabwe last week, said his country was praying for President Robert Mugabe to take a leading role in Sadc if he finishes with the country's politics. Report by the MuckRacker
He showered Mugabe with praise describing him as "courageous".
"We pray to God that if President Mugabe finishes with his politics he can devote his time to Sadc," Thabane said. The Lesotho PM was here to open the Harare Agricultural Show.
But for those reading between the lines the message was obvious: It's time to retire.
The distasteful pill was clearly manufactured by Sadc and sugar-coated with heaps of praise to assist digestion! His Zimbabwean hosts obviously missed the point and concentrated on the praise. Not only was this dimension given emphasis, but Thabane's official visit, as we pointed out last week, was elevated to the status of a state visit when obviously it wasn't.
There was another point which Thabane had clearly been mandated to convey.
"The people of Lesotho join you in support of the full implementation of the GPA," he said.
Again that was a sugar-coated pill as it was tied to a call for the lifting of sanctions. And Thabane kept on reminding his audience that he was a junior leader obeying Mugabe's command to visit Zimbabwe.
"When an elder statesman of his age and stature invites an equally young newly-elected PM like me, the invitation is a command," he said.
So there you have it. Thabane's "state" visit had a diplomatic sub-text. "Time to go".
Muckraker was interested to see how the Freedom House report on Zimbabwe would be "spun" by Zanu PF's apologists. Zanu PF had overtaken the MDC-T in the popularity stakes according to their report on data from a survey undertaken by the Mass Public Opinion Institute mid-year.
It claimed that support for the MDC-T had dropped from 38% to 20%. In 2009 it put support for Zanu PF between eight and 10% and for the MDC at 57%. The report claimed most Zimbabweans relied on the state media and trusted the military.
But Morgan Tsvangirai's spokesperso01n Luke Tamborinyoka gave a neat twist to the claims as reported in the Sunday Times.
"With all those satellite dishes at police stations and even at army barracks, the Freedom House-sponsored survey says the state media is the media of choice in Zimbabwe? That Zimbabweans trust the army and police?"
Obert Gutu, the MDC-T spokesman for Harare and Deputy Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs described the survey as fatally flawed.
"It is the height of intellectual delinquency for any right-thinking person to argue that all of a sudden the people of Zimbabwe now have increased faith and trust in the army, police and CIO as well as the AG's office. More poignantly, it is an unmitigated absurdity for any sane person to believe that ZBC is the most trusted source of news in Zimbabwe."
The state media gave the survey a muted reception. The reason is not difficult to find. It used all its resources to denounce the 2009 MPOI report and its authors. It can hardly argue now that Freedom House and the MPOI are credible sources!
Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo recently claimed that despite claims by other parties that they are sabotaging the constitution-making process, they are actually protecting the "national interest".
The MDC formations endorsed the draft constitution while the "revolutionary party scrutinised the whole document" making proposals to include some views of the majority that had been left out, we are told.
According to Mugabe Zanu PF is an "enlightened" party that will not accept a document that goes against its "revolutionary ideals".
Mugabe and his party's approach to constitution-making is quite strange.
They take the draft, make a whole range of amendments, and then Gumbo declares nobody else will be allowed to do the same thing.
"Zanu PF won't move an inch," Gumbo says. Having thoroughly politicised and re-written the draft, he claimed the constitution was a national initiative that did not belong to individual parties.
However, experts who, according to ZBC "have been following the constitution making-process" say Zimbabwe can hold elections using the Lancaster House constitution because of the current stalemate.
Zanu PF politburo member Jonathan Moyo said the essence of the GPA was never about writing a new constitution, but to create a conducive environment for conducting free and fair elections.
Sharing similar sentiments National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) chairman, Lovemore Madhuku, said it was very clear from the beginning that no constitution was ever going to be produced by the political parties as they have to agree on all the issues.
"It was clear from the beginning that the three political parties would not produce a new constitution," he said.
"Elections should be held using the old one. The parties should just agree so that we go for elections," Madhuku said.
Fancy seeing Madhuku singing from the Zanu PF hymn sheet! Was Zanu PF the party he was referring to when he said in April that he would relinquish his post at the NCA and venture into "active party politics"?
The Sunday Mail's columnist Udo Froese once again showed a farcical appreciation of Zimbabwean issues.
Perched in Johannesburg, Froese opined that the "foreign guiders of the opposition" had limited the powers of the president in the draft constitution to ensure they were safe since they were not sure that the MDCs will actually win.
Despite the draft constitution being a product of all the parties in the inclusive government including Zanu PF, Froese now claims it is the product of the West.
"The president would have two terms of office only, together amounting to 10 years," complains Froese as if it is a really bad thing.
"Let us be honest and pragmatic," Froese asserts, "despite being part of the inclusive government, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his Minister of Finance, Tendai Biti, were not successful in having the sanctions against their country lifted."
"So, why then vote for a failure?" he asks.
According to Froese, this is the question in the minds of most Zimbabweans, "even of those living here in South Africa".
Zimbabweans living in South Africa, Froese would have us believe, are more concerned with sanctions on Mugabe and his coterie than the economic havoc engineered by his regime which left them with no choice but to brave the crocodile-infested Limpopo River and xenophobic attacks in the townships.
Despite admitting that the government "dropped its currency, the Zimbabwe dollar, and based its economy on the United States dollar and the South African rand", Froese does not bother to explain why.
"With a booming mining industry, Zimbabwe was able to rejuvenate its economy and to improve the lives of her people," Froese declares.
The writer is clearly in cloud- cuckoo-land!
Despite ZBC defending its steep licence fees of US$20 annually for radio fees and US$50 for television per household, saying they are necessary to meet operating costs, they on the other hand stopped paying the royalties due to musicians for the music which they play on air.
ZBC spokesperson Sivukile Simango recently declared that paying licence fees was a statutory requirement and viewers/listeners should abide by the law or face the consequences.
This, however, does not apply to ZBC itself as far as its own obligations are concerned.
According to the Herald, the Zimbabwe Music Rights Association (Zimura) has applied for a court interdict stopping ZBC from playing music on their radio and television stations. This is due to non-payment for the second time, of royalties due to Zimura by ZBC since 2009.
Albert Nyathi, Zimura's board chairman, said a High Court interdict to bar the broadcaster from playing any music will soon be put into effect.
Musicians also accuse ZBC of robbing them of their full payments by submitting inaccurate music log sheets to Zimura.
Undeterred by this shocking duplicity ZBC in May issued 40 people from Chitungwiza with warrants of arrest for failing to pay ZBC television and radio licences.
ZBC Legal and Corporate Services Manager Irvin Mhlanga said ZBC will "bring to book" all radio and television licence defaulters.
The question is who will bring ZBC to book for cheating musicians and viewers/listeners alike?
Meanwhile, Zanu PF Harare provincial secretary for information and publicity, Claudious Mutero, recently tried to distance his party from the activities of gang leaders extorting kombi crews.
The Herald reports that Harare kombi operators said they were worried by government's failure to protect them from the "thugs" who were forcing them to pay protection fees which at some ranks is US$2 per trip per kombi.
Donning Zanu PF regalia, they operate "mafia-style" and collect over US$1 000 daily.
Mutero, however, tried to dissociate his party from the shadowy groups contradicting Zanu PF secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa's recent admission that groups like Chipangano are aligned to the organisation.
Mutasa proceeded to instruct Zanu PF Harare province chairman Amos Midzi to ensure the unruly youths are brought under control.
Mutero, however, would have us believe Chipangano is not Zanu PF when we all know it is.
Said Mutero: "These are people trying to soil the name of the party. They are just using the name of our party. We do not get money as a party from the ranks."
As far as soiling Zanu PF's image is concerned that ship sailed a long time ago!
Muckraker was amused by a picture on the back page of the Herald on Monday headed "DeMbare, You Beauty". It was captioned "On top of the world...Dynamos fans are in seventh heaven and show which newspaper they read as they celebrate their first goal at the National Sports Stadium..."
Everybody was holding up a Herald billboard saying "Come on Dembare!". What we weren't told was that these were in all probability troops of Herald vendors out there!