25 January 2013

Zimbabwe: Diploma in Mining Suffices in Zanu-PF

column

First lady Grace Mugabe's recent grab of about 1 600 hectares of land, belonging to Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed agro producer Interfresh's Mazoe Citrus Estate is testament to the charade our rulers call the indigenisation programme.

The fact that the company is owned by black Zimbabwean shareholders did nothing to stop the voracious expropriation scheme which in the case of the first family has claimed the farms of former Standard Chartered Bank CEO Washington Matsaira and High Court judge Ben Hlatshwayo, among others.

This glaring case of double standards does not stop her expounding upon the virtues of hard work and urging women to "work hard to become independent and reduce dependence on their husbands" even though she uses her husband's influence to dispossess citizens of their properties.

Zanu PF ups ante

As if these developments, for lack of a better word, were not shocking enough, Zanu PF upped the ante with NewsDay reporting that Chivi South legislator Irvine Dzingirai has declared himself the new owner of troubled Renco Mine as part of his party's indigenisation policy.

"Yes, I have taken over Renco Mine as we speak. I am the new general manager. I am at the mine right now," Dzingirai chimed.

"I just took over the mine. There were no talks."

The mine's failure to pay workers their bonuses, Dzingirai said, and the fact that there is no money at the pension fund had compelled him to take over.

Bemused workers accused Dzingirai of hijacking their strike for political gains.

"Ours was a genuine strike. It was an apolitical protest comprising workers' wives and villagers who support either Zanu PF or MDC," a villager said.

"But we were surprised when Dzingirai came from nowhere and said he was now the new owner."

Undeterred, Dzingirai vowed to stay put at the mine, saying he had the capacity to run it because he holds a "diploma in mining and so the mine will be as viable as it used to be".

Still on the prowl

Not to be outdone Indigenisation minister Saviour Kasukuwere, a failed banker in his own right, remains unflinching in his crusade against foreign-owned banks. Despite the spectre of the ill-fated Genesis Investment Bank hanging over him, Kasukuwere remains determined to expropriate what remains of the banking sector.

"Zimbabweans should be their own investors. Zimbabweans should invest in their economy," Kasukuwere said, without a hint of irony. "This is our country and we should benefit from all that is in it."

Taking over private properties is what passes for investment in Zanu PF's book.

Poisoned chalice

Muckraker was amused to see President Mugabe waxing lyrical to Benin President Boni Yayi about how Zimbabweans have put aside their differences as they prepare for elections this year.

"In my country, yes we have had divisions, political divisions, but I am glad that we all appreciate that whatever political affiliations we belong to we are Zimbabweans."

The president says one thing to visiting VIPs and another to his own people. The truth is President Mugabe heads a narrow exclusivist state where minorities are treated as second-class citizens. Over the past 10 years white Zimbabweans have had their properties and livelihoods expropriated by Zanu PF supporters. Anybody who seeks evidence for the malevolent partisan state Zanu PF has spawned in our midst need do no more than read the opinion columns of the public press.

Bulawayo, once the vibrant hub of an industrial society, has been transformed into a wasteland as the productive inhabitants of that part of the country have become refugees in their own homeland.

All that is needed is the harnessing of water to turn things around but the former ruling party continue to drag their heels as if to punish voters for making the "wrong" choice in 2008.

Indeed, Zimbabweans are accused of "voting with their stomachs" as if that is an offence.

Singing for supper

We were pleased to hear that General Constantine Chiwenga is encouraging members of the defence forces to plant trees to replace those cut down. He was speaking at Kabrit Barracks in Harare.

This is welcome news. But can we refer him to the fate of the trees, planted in the 1980s and 90s, which have been cut down in wetlands adjoining the National Stadium to facilitate a Chinese hotel and shops development.

Curiously President Mugabe received a Forestry Commission award for "leading" environmental conservation. In its citation, the Commission said Mugabe had shown "visionary leadership" in different aspects of environmental management.

"The president had the foresight to see that if no measures were put in place for the country to plant more trees, then we would face a bleak future," the fawning citation read.

Maybe it escaped the Forestry Commission's notice that under Mugabe's watch vast tracts of once very productive farmland have been reduced to wasteland after being parcelled out to mostly high-ranking Zanu PF officials and those closely connected to the former ruling party.

It also seems to have escaped their notice that the party's officials and supporters are now grabbing wildlife conservancies and relentlessly destroying flora and fauna.

So much for Mugabe's "visionary leadership"!

Naked aggression

Meanwhile, Zanu PF has been mobilising its supporters to confront the new US ambassador who has been on a meet-the-people tour of the country.

The banner and placards from the protestors were remarkably similar, we were told, and probably the handiwork of Jongwe Printers.

The United States has been a major contributor to Zimbabwe's survival in recent years yet instead of gratitude the former ruling party organises a campaign of obstruction. The majority of Zimbabweans are friends of the United States and want the benefits of an orderly and productive society. Zanu PF is preventing that by organising its rent-a-crowds.

Conspicuous by their absence were the police who left the thugs to run riot and harass the ambassador and his entourage, leaving Zanu PF apparatchik Sheila Mutsenhu who last year reportedly stormed into the Daily News' offices and urinated in the reception area. This time Mutsenhu decided to strip to her underwear in protest at the "illegal "sanctions imposed on her handlers.

No charges of indecent exposure were levelled against Mutsenhu for such a disgraceful act, exposing Augustine Chihuri's claims the police are not partisan for the baloney they are.

Birds of a feather ...

Muckraker is a fan of Marvin Meintjies' column in the Johannesburg Sunday Times. He was particularly entertaining this week with his account of what 13th century warrior Genghis Khan did to the wives and daughters of his enemies.

This emanates from a court case in which Julius Malema's former friend, now sworn enemy, Boy Mamabolo was charged with crimen injuria after he allegedly threatened to exhume the body of Juju's mom and lay her before Juju's granny's door. Mamabolo threatened to do this because Malema "had done many bad things to him".

Mamabolo accused Juju of sending two of his very few still-loyal acolytes to lie with the young Mamabolo's girlfriend. At the time of writing, Meintjies says, Juju had not issued a denial. That was left to his two acolytes, Limpopo ANC Youth League secretary Jacob Lebogo and Jossie Buthanie.

Both denied sleeping with Mamabolo's girlfriend. Lebogo said: "Malema is not a pimp. He is the leader of our society."

"But here's the scary part," Meintjies relates. "For quite some time Malema and Mamabolo occupied senior positions in the ruling party's youth league and provincial government. Malema was Youth League president and Mamabolo was chairman of the Limpopo Geographical Names Committee from which he allegedly stole about R400 000."

Meintjies recalls Malema's marks at school for woodwork. They were abysmal apparently.

'It is clear," he says, "both men swam ashore from the shallow end of the gene pool."

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