Category Archives: Features, Opinion & Analysis

EDITORIAL COMMENT: Subversion of Govt programmes alarming

Minister Chinamasa

Minister Chinamasa

Yesterday we carried a story in which Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa revealed how a Cabinet minister had approached a local weekly with a story attacking Government’s Command Agriculture Programme, Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa and the programme’s financier, Sakunda Holdings.

Not merely that: Cde Chinamasa revealed that the said minister, whose identity is not a secret really, had assisted in the editing of the story that was published in The Standard newspaper. We were shocked to learn of this intelligence. Minister Chinamasa is an honest and forthright person and we have no reason to doubt him.

In fact, he appears to have been driven into these revelations because it cut very close to the bone and had the effect of compromising the smooth running of not only the programme, but also Government at large.

We are mortified by the fact that the subversion in the ruling party, Zanu-PF, has reached such alarming levels where people within the party and Government go to extraordinary lengths to undermine each other and Government itself. This is happening against a background of concerns about leaks of Zanu-PF Politburo and Cabinet meetings and serious misrepresentation of the same.

Connected to this have been concerns by the party and President Mugabe over the conduct of officials in discussing party matters on social media and the private media.

We recall that a fortnight or so ago security at the venue of the Politburo — the Zanu-PF Headquarters in Harare — had to be tightened to ensure no mobile phones went into the conference room.

The Politburo meetings, once so confidential as to be mystical, have now been reduced to some free for all. Members of the media today end up with detailed and intimate details of Politburo deliberations.

And we know some senior members have been conveyor belts of such confidential information for purposes of advancing personal and factionalist agendas.

The latest revelations that a minister hand-held and directed a private newspaper to undermine a Government programme is a matter of grave concern that we believe authorities are now seized with.

This must not go unpunished.

We have the reasonable suspicion that the same officials who have not only been tweeting away their defiance of party orders, but have also lately gone to town not only criticising, but deriding the Command Agriculture programme as “Ugly-Culture’’ are behind the latest reprehensible developments.

In the not-so-distant past they were outed by WikiLeaks as having been hobnobbing with Western envoys in the cover of the night.

We suspect further that as we speak they feel untouchable and eternally glad for it.

We appeal to relevant authorities to stop this madness.

It cannot last forever.

To this end we welcome the statement by Commander Zimbabwe Defence Forces General Constantino Chiwenga that such nonsense can no longer be tolerated.

Zimbabweans need to be assured that national security and stability of Government are guaranteed and it is remiss when some individuals begin to feel they cannot be bound even by the Cabinet Handbook.

We submit our objection to what we clearly feel is a misleading notion that there are sacred cows and rogues that must be kept inside the tent and piss on the outside for fear that if pushed out they will piss inside.

National interest is bigger and in this particular case, State security and the smooth operation of Government are in clear and present danger.

Something has to give.

EDITORIAL COMMENT: Farmers deserve better from GMB

We are still getting reports that farmers contracted under Command Agriculture and wish to deliver their maize to GMB depots are being turned away over high moisture content.

This, if true, is outrageous and goes against the noble objectives of this Government initiative. GMB should spare a thought for the farmers given the challenges they have had to overcome to ensure they produce and deliver the crop.

While it is critical that GMB receives maize with the right moisture content for ease of proper storage, as custodians of national granaries, the parastatal should have foreseen challenges the farmers are facing following a prolonged rainy season and invested in dryers to deal with cases where the gap between the recommended levels of moisture and the maize being delivered is almost negligible.

In addition, GMB should be proactive by ensuring that farmers are aware of their requirements before they make the trip to its depots.

GMB officials should be out there educating farmers and assisting them to assess the moisture content of their maize while still at their farms or plots instead of throwing them to the wolves by turning them away at the depots.

There should also be tight monitoring of officials to ensure that the moisture content levels are in fact consistent instead of fluctuating according to the whims of the GMB official.

Farmers should also be attended to on a first come, first served basis to ensure transparency and to build confidence in the system.

Given the challenges and costs involved in transporting grain from the farms to GMB, it’s understandable that most farmers will jump at the chance to dispose of their maize to middlemen even at prices that are below those offered by GMB.

The Command Agriculture Programme should continue to evolve and this can only happen if farmers follow the right channels.

GMB should take a cue from the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) which has instructed that all tobacco that has been delivered to the floors, but cannot be sold for one reason or other cannot be taken out. It is retained within the floors while the matter is being sorted out.

Prior to the directive, farmers were allowed to withdraw their tobacco if it could not be sold, but they immediately fell prey to middlemen that were hanging around the floors.

Now we have more or less similar allegations that GMB officials are working in cahoots with unscrupulous middlemen to fleece desperate maize producers.

Such allegations should be taken seriously and investigations carried out to ensure the perpetrators are brought to book.

The efforts of hard-working farmers should not go unrewarded as this threatens the whole programme since it compromises the ability of farmers to pay for the inputs they received from the Government.

The continuity of the programme depends on farmers successfully repaying their loans because Government cannot keep on pumping new money into agriculture when it operates on a severely constrained budget.

We hope GMB will quickly put its house in order and resolve these challenges for the benefit of the farmer. The farmer, as the person central to production, should emerge as the biggest winner if we are serious about the future of our agriculture industry.

Vimbai Chivaura’s last word

Vimbai Chivaura

Vimbai Chivaura

Stanely Mushava Literature Today
Vimbai Chivaura is best remembered for his conservative jeremiads on the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporpration in programmes such as National Agenda, Zvavanhu, African Pride, Nhaka Yedu and Living Tradition.

He was also an able writer, importing his on-screen clarity, conviction, liveliness and nationalist orthodoxy to newspaper credits and book contributions.

His last word is found in a book entitled, “Africa’s Intangible Heritage and Land: Emerging Perspectives,” the sermon he ran with for decades flanked by fellow apostles Tafataona Mahoso, Claude Mararike, Sheuneni Mpepereki and Ngugi waMirii.

Tapping into the familiar chalice of pan-African piety, Chivaura invokes Okot p’Bitek, Mazisi Kunene, Kwame Nkrumah, Chinua Achebe and others to bring Africans readers to a higher regard for their history.

The selling point of his message, which dispenses with novelty, balance or crossover effects, is the fanatical partiality with which he champions it. If you do not gravitate towards his idea, you will at least feel his energy.

When I first met Chivaura in 2014, he sounded uncomfortable with the backhanded compliments we give to our former colonisers by resisting them in rhetoric while aping their language, dress and lifestyle.

Perhaps the English lecturer was dismantling these invasive culture traps with his unassuming dashiki, the reset to the mother tongue in the programmes he co-presented with elder nationalists, the insistent challenge to Western ideals he represented as a public intellec- tual.

Whatever he made of the occupational ironies, he taught English at UZ for three decades not to be tamed or tanned by the language but to speak back to it in his indigenous accent, to defuse its imperial shells and extend buffer zones for independent Africans from within.

Chivaura’s prefatory contribution to the book is entitled “African History: An Intangible Living Force”. The piece typically starts with a ringing claim as Chivaura falsifies the popular view of history as an account of the past.

He espouses, to the contrary, a view of history as a living force which must animate everyday Africa with identity and purpose. He challenges African historians to weaponise their findings into contemporary reality, short of which their studies “will continue to exist as mere lifeless corpses in their books and journals in the graveyards called libraries”.

“Africa’s Intangible Heritage and Land” was published by UZ Publications last year, drawing from a similarly themed symposium convened by the university in 2015.

Edited by Ruby, Obert Mlambo and Eventhough Ndlovu, the book is a blast of star power with contributions from Tanaka Chidora, Charity Manyeruke, Stephen Chifunyise, David Bishau, Charles Pfukwa, Pedzisai Mashiri and other noted academics.

It is equal parts a study and a sermon as the reader is insistently confronted with the writers’ urgent views of Africanness as well as calls to introspect. Editor Magosvongwe vivifies the urgency with the image of “rufandichimuka” image atop the blurb: “Like mufandichichimuka/idabane, nurtured, our intangible cultural heritage can be resilient despite the harsh challenges. Neglected, it dies. The onus is on everyone to jealously safeguard and cherish it.”

The land, religion, literature, philosophy, language, archaeology, climate change, development, history, myth and other disciplines and concerns are the book’s cross-pollinating “rufandichimukas”, touched up with identity and responsibility.

If you are wary about the abstract and malleable nature of patriotic sermonising, the scholars here will pleasantly surprise you. The shortest distance to bring it all home is the correspondence between African values and the land.

Divinity scholars Nisbert Taisepi Taringa and David Bishau argue that the environmental awareness captured in indigenous belief systems should be appropriated to safeguard the land in their interesting chapter, “Shona Traditional Religions, Dark Green Spirituality: An Indispensable Heritable for Sustainable Land Reforms in Zimbabwe”.

They point out, from their own wartime experiences, that the liberation struggle held natural resources inestimable, both to uphold the dark green spirituality of the Shona past and for tactical advantage.

Traditional leaders and spiritual authorities enforced the preservation of the natural environment, including vegetation and wild animals, as kith and kin, while the “comrades” were at home near the burial sites so they could take cover from the green stretches proceeding from them.

Bishau and Taringa lament that the dark green spirituality which anchored the Second Chimurenga seems to be under threat in the Third Chimurenga, a regressive twist in Zimbabwe’s attachment to its heritage.

For an optimally gainful relationship to the land, the authors point out that there is ecological wealth to be redeemed from the past, while advocating for a middle path between the assumption that that the Shona tradition has all the answers and the assumption that it has none.

Confronted with the downgrade of indigenous culture under the onslaught of individualism and materialism, Chivaura shoots down the idea that man can be free and contends, contrary to Rousseau, that his chains are the ideal way of being, the mark of his responsibility his world.

“Man is not born free. He cannot be free. He is incapable of being free. For only by being in chains and he be and remain human,” Chivaura contends, apprehensive of the self-immolating liberalism engulfing the global North.

Chivaura insists that man’s identity obtains in his place among son, mother, daughter, uncle, father, uncle, husband, wife, mother-in-law, king, priest and many others. He says one way of pressing strong as a people is to defuse the negative energy of polarising demographics like tribe, ethic group and stranger.

He despairs at Africans’ reliance on Western traditions for cultural sustenance and meaning-making. “‘What happened to the children of Sumer?’ the old traveller asked. ‘For all the ancient records say they were an African people. What happened to them,’” Chivaura reacts the sage’s picture of history. “‘Ah,’ the old man sighed, ‘They forgot their history so they died.’ ‘Man know thyself,’ reads a sign at the entrance to the shrine of Delphi in ancient Greece.”

Sheunesu Mandizvidza and Tanaka Chidora bring cynical energy to the otherwise orthodox opus, suggesting that there is something to be redeemed, for the African’s introspective imagination, from a novel marked anathema by Chinua Achebe, Joseph Conrad’s “The Heart of Darkness”.

The duo takes an “Afrospective” trajectory, arguing for a healthy remove between retrieving our values for contemporary good and just fetishising them. Appropriating Conrad’s book for Zimbabwe’s land question, the writers say the book can be read as a warning from a white man on the importance of keeping in force the institutions that govern conduct.

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Time to re-map Europe-Africa relations

Stephen Mpofu Correspondent
The story of thousands of Africans flocking to Europe and with thousands of the voyagers perishing in the Mediterranean Sea will no doubt go down in the annals of history as the most heart-breaking account this century.

But not only that. Those migrants, or refugees, as various mass communications media around the world described them, have discovered on reaching land that all was not rosy in the countries of their dreams after all, as they literally became prisoners in the host European Union countries.

Some countries have raised barricades against the new fortune seekers fleeing economic impoverishment and political strife back home and had them sent back or thrown into confinement pending a final decision on their status.

Not having previously been faced with such mass foreign human inundations, the recipient or potential recipient EU states took whatever measure was deemed necessary to protect their own people’s jobs as well as their national security. The tragic story of the scramble for Europe by Africans who fall prey to smugglers waiting to pounce on them from the coast of Libya, racking in their fortunes as they ferry away the migrants on boats some of which are rickety and with some of the fugitives being sexually abused along the way, has long been trending in global news media.

Meanwhile, newspaper columns and airwaves have also been choked with impotent condemnation of, or with pious sympathies over the suffering of the refugees from international bodies but with nothing more done to mitigate the plight of the refugees.

This is in stark contrast to the reception given Europeans in their scramble for Africa in the 19th century to begin the slave trade and the pillaging of the continent’s rich natural resources which the foreigners carted off to build palaces back in their native countries while setting up colonial administrations that oppressed blacks until “the wind of change” swept the foreign rulers away and replaced them with black governments.

In communicology a strike or demonstration are described as eloquent statements by those involved in something that concerns them and which they want rectified.

Contextually, therefore, the migration of Africans to Europe which continues today should be viewed by all as an eloquent statement about something that the migrants want sorted out by Europe — which is the plunder of Africa’s wealth in the long years of colonialism and which must of necessity be reversed.

In the scramble for Europe “we (Africans) are following our wealth which Europeans plundered during colonialism”, commented Mr Felix Moyo, Director of Communication and Marketing at the National University of Science and Technology in Bulawayo two days ago. What was even worse Mr Moyo said, the Europeans went on to “destabilise us” ,leaving the Africans with no alternative, but to go after what belonged to them, he said.

Mr Moyo said had the Europeans who colonised the continent left Africans with a little something to fall back on, the exploited people would probably not have decided to go on a stampede to Europe. Now one major European power has decided positively to respond to the African scramble for Europe by embarking on an increased investment programme to stabilise things on the continent, according to international media reports.

The Voice of America reported a few days ago that Germany would increase its investment to Africa in response to the flight of Africans to Europe, as a result of economic impoverishment giving rise to political instability.

Countries formally colonised by Germany in Africa included South West Africa (Namibia); Tanganyika which became Tanzania after the union with Zanzibar; and Togo and Cameroon.

Approached by this writer two days ago to talk about the reported plan by Germany to increase that country’s investment in Africa, an official at the German Embassy in Harare said: “ I cannot comment on something that I have not read.”

However, if that country runs with the VOA report on increased investment a strong possibility exists that, faced with the African migrant deluge, other European countries could reverse the African immigration bromide by lining up behind Germany with their own investment portfolios.

Should that happen Zimbabwe and Sub-Saharan countries that have investment opportunities galore benefit immensely.

Specifically, Zimbabweans will no doubt increase their prayers for Britain, this country’s erstwhile colonial power, to unveil a huge capital investment portfolio to atone for the illegal economic and financial sanctions that it imposed along with the US and their Western allies, leaving our country teetering on the verge of collapse, but for the grace of God and the invincibility of our revolutionary people.

An investment renaissance by Europe will naturally come as a fillip to re-map relations by revitalising economies other than Zimbabwe’s in Southern Africa as well as elsewhere in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Expressing freedom through language

Elliot Ziwira @ The Book Store
Fiction is an expression of a people’s yearnings, aspirations, desire for liberation in all its facets, cultural mores and values, and a quest for psychic catharsis.

Hence, if artistes are inspired by their experiences and spurred on by the concerns of their own societies, then fiction will remain a true record of the obtaining issues prevailing at any given eon; past present or future.

However, as has always been observed, if literary works are a culmination of the prevailing governing institutions’ gatekeeping instincts, then the sensibilities that should be informing them will be utterly at fault.

Emmanuel M. Chiwome and Zifikile Mguni’s book “Zimbabwean Literature in African Languages: Crossing Language Boundaries” (2012) explores the liberating nature of language in its expression of a people’s way of life and the preservation of ethos. It advocates the use of indigenous African languages as the first step to decolonising the continent’s citizenry’s mindsets.

As observed by Furusa, “(a) search for language should be a search for collective wisdom and sensibility. It should be intended to bend the collective volition into harmony with the demands of social development” (Chiwome and Mguni (2012:40). This is especially so because “language embodies and is a vehicle of expressing cultural values” (Chinweuzu, et al, 1982:7).

Cultural ethos obtaining in African folklore, riddles, idioms and proverbs can only be aptly articulated through indigenous languages. Language is a powerful tool in the conveyance of a people’s values in their original form.

However, the aesthetics of language alone without an informed viewpoint on contemporary issues obtained in any pertinent society is void, as maintained by Nyagu (1990) when he says: “African Literature must communicate . . . Writing that is mere intellectualism is not for a country that is full of social ills and miserable poverty.”

An artiste worth his /her salt, therefore, should go beyond the celebration of language and capture the paralysis, malaise and stasis that weigh down on individual and societal expectations. He/she should guard against relegating his/her people to the doldrums of socio-economic idiocy by trivialising their suffering through lan- guage.

The norms and values passed from generation to generation through folklore can never be really ferried through alien languages. Colonisation brought its own problems on the African landscape, which can scantly be addressed using the same oppressive apparatus, which is the reason why the Kenyan writer, Ngugi wa Thiong’o vowed to stick to his native Gikuyu to hoist his country’s flag above the colonial banner, as a way of liberating his people.

Chiwome and Mguni’s book is divided into sections which highlight the different eons and languages under review. It really is an eye-opener not only to literary critics and writers but to those whose purpose of reading is not mastery.

The writers note in the preface to the book: “In the context of a former colony like Zimbabwe, literature can be viewed as a site of struggle. In this literary site of struggle, writers can either represent powers that oppress the masses or write from below in order to bring the people living on the margins closer to the centre.”

Suffice to say that the institutionalisation of how reality can be perceived is baneful to the freedom of literary expression. Writers as “truth’s defence” should be the voices of the gagged, feeble and vulnerable.

In colonial Rhodesia the Literature Bureau determined the nature of literature to be consumed both in schools and the general readership. Therefore, although indigenous languages like Shona, Ndebele and Tonga could be used as an expression of liberation, they were skewed to serve the interests of the oppressor, who controlled the printing presses. The desire to see one’s work in print triumphed at the expense of creativity, which compromised the body of literary works produced, and as a result relegated the hopes and aspirations of the oppressed people of colour to the periphery of existence.

The Literature Bureau as a creation of the colonial governments of Rhodesia since 1954 was at the centre of “the Zimbabwean people’s hopes, their true and false starts on their journey to liberation, greater self-awareness and fulfilment” (Furusa, 1994:125). A perusal through the early publications in both Shona and Ndebele put paid to this assertion.

According to Chiwome and Mguni (2012) Solomon Mutswairo’s “Feso” (1956) only saw the light of day after the “offending” first chapter, which deplored the displacement of Africans from fertile lands, was removed.

Bernard Chidzero’s “Nzvengamutsvairo” (1957) taps into Shona orature and merges it with missionary teachings as a strategy to hoodwink Africans to accept the new tide brought by colonialism. Social progress is only made possible by creating interfaces of harmony between the Africans and whites; yet at the same time Africans are expected to disown their own cultural mores.

Other books by Catholic priests like Patrick Chakaipa, Emmanuel Ribeiro and Ignatius Zvarevashe were also “intended to gain more converts”. This rationale obtains in books like, “Dzasukwa Mwana Asina Hembe” (1967), “Garandichauya” (1963), “Muchadura” (1967), “Rudo Ibofu” (1961), “Kurauone” (1976) and “Gonawapotera” (1976). These books did not only find their way in the school curricula in Rhodesia but even after independence in 1980.

It is the government, therefore, that determines the nature of knowledge to be consumed and because of this, issues that really affect the generality of the populace might not be explored.

African countries, though independent from the colonial yoke, are still at the mercy of the erstwhile colonisers, who sponsor the publication of books that advance their own interests; with promises of awards and international readership.

African traditions have been subjected to immense pressure from colonisation and technological advancements. The Tonga people, for instance, had their own songs and folklores, which were directly linked to the Zambezi Valley – their cherished abode before the Kariba Dam flooded their area. Their resentment of the displacement from the life-source they had known for generations cannot be fully articulated in any other language besides their own.

The improvement of their lot through the dam remains a pipe- dream years after its construction, yet their association with the river basin as embraced in their folkloric songs and folklore remains painfully imbedded in their hearts; although they have lost appeal to those who did not experience the golden times. So in a way they have been robbed of their freedom and no form of compensation will placate them.

Similarly, the Chingwizi community in the Mwenezi District, who were displaced when the Tokwe Mukosi Dam flooded its banks in February 2014, would never feel adequately compensated as long as a return to their ancestral land, where graves of their loved ones are left, is not part of the package. Their feelings can only be captured through their own language and not any other.

Although, the governing institutions may determine what comes out of the printing press, artistes can skirt around such gatekeeping stances, and come up with individual creations that capture the real issues affecting their societies.

Ndabaningi Sithole’s “Amandebele KaMzilikazi” (1956) aptly captures the disgruntlement of the Ndebele people with the colonial systems that subjugated and displaced them, which culminated in the 1896 uprising. The book’s Afro-centricism is premised on the way the colonial establishment is deplored; paving way for nationalistic thinking.

The liberation struggle could not have been possible had it not been for the encouragement of writers who captured the majority’s aspirations in their works. Writers play a significant role in nation building by creating symbols that breed national pride.

However, because of elitist literature controlled by political establishments, themes that are disparaging and foist disunity and ethnicism are usually avoided, which is why a lot of war novels and poems “avoid traumatic events that cause social embarrassment. The highest sacrifices paid in the war such as rape, betrayal and executions are avoided themes” (Chiwome and Mguni, 2012:183).

Problem Patrick has bigger issues to fight

Patrick Zhuwao

Patrick Zhuwao

The chickens are surely coming home to roost!

Remember the other time when zanu-pf National Political Commissar Saviour Kasukuwere raged like a mad bull, railing at The Herald for reporting in a manner that he did not like?

It was such a low point and one in which we saw the political commissar nervously breaking down.

He totally lost it and called one of our reporters son-of-a-something, a very unacceptable low that a whole minister in a revolutionary and people-oriented Government would ever plunge to.

Kasukuwere was feeling the heat as this newspaper and our sister publication, The Sunday Mail, had been reporting on the goings-on in the revolutionary party.

Not that we are alone or had a special mission or agenda against him.

These things – the things we see and report on in and out of zanu-pf – are there for everyone to see.

In their ugliness.

Or in their beauty.

Somehow, yet Kasukuwere thought there was a crime in journalists – journalists from the ‘State’ media – doing their job.

Not only that, Kasukuwere somehow thought he was now qualified to lecture us on how to report issues, editorial policy, etc.

But Kasukuwere may have learnt soon enough that you do not pick fights with the media, much less needless ones driven by fragile egos.

Not even Donald Trump, the world’s most powerful man, can!

Problem Patrick

However, such lessons are lost on some people, including one Patrick Zhuwao , who happens to be Kasukuwere’s factionalist cohort.

In the very same manner and spirit, Zhuwao, whose main claim to fame is being the President’s nephew, who has done precious little in the job that the Head of State and Government entrusted to him to lead the Indigenisation Ministry.

Just zero.

Instead, he has been identified with championing factionalism along with Kasukuwere and Professor Jonathan Moyo.

The latter two actually have claim to some great and wonderful things – for all their faults.

They are elected, too, which poor Zhuwao is not, after facing an inglorious defeat at the hands of Francis “Franco” Mukwangwariwa in Zvimba.

You should know the kind of joy with which Franco savours his position at the expense of Zhuwao, especially after his famed drinking!

Which makes it curious that Zhuwao wants more fights on top of that: he should just clear Franco out of the way and begin talking.

He must choose his opponents and weight category carefully.

But we know he does not have the capacity nor stamina!

He is just a lightweight who happens to be the nephew of the country’s finest gentleman and President who entrusted the responsibility of a key policy to him.

Zhuwao flattered to deceive.

He has just withered at the challenge.

He has sought the escape route of heaping himself in a faction.

We are sure he feels safe there with “Tyson” on one flank and the Professor on the other.

It must be comforting, if it is not some cold comfort.

Ironically, he is growing too cosy there!

All about faction

It gets worse. You cannot trust Zhuwao to think outside narrow confines of his factionalist gang.

It is embarrassing.

Yesterday we carried a story in which he was trying to separate Command Agriculture – a Government programme – from the broader scheme of Zim-Asset.

To his narrow, small mind he saw an appropriation of factionalist agendas.

He thus said:

“Zimbabwe is not about Command. Zimbabwe is about Zim-Asset. That is the agenda that we move with and unfortunately media has tended to want to highlight Command as if Command is the only game in town. No. It is not!” An attendee reminded the minister that Command Agriculture was part of Zim-Asset.

“It is a component. Unfortunately guys within the Zimpapers stable want to actually highlight Command because hamenowo imwe agenda yamunenge muinayo where you think that by highlighting Command murikusimudzirawo ngana nangana, No. Handizvo! Munenge mataika.”

It is clear that he thinks that the new Command thrust is stealing the thunder from a policy that is usually attributed to Prof Moyo in terms of its authorship.

That is how low and pathetic Zhuwao can sink!

He is so small-minded and sycophantic and unable to stand on his own two feet even after President Mugabe has given him legs and is the only person to lean on.

But, no, Zhuwao decides to hide under the skirts of Jonathan Moyo and Saviour Kasukuwere who are, incredibly, accused of being factionalists seeking to torpedo President Mugabe.

It’s twisted.

Zhuwao is well and truly a political nonentity who should have done better for having President Mugabe as a mentor and leader.

What a burning shame!

Once upon a time in Korea

Then we were amused at the response that Prof Moyo himself gave to a story written on Wednesday by one of our columnists in which the columnist questioned Moyo’s continued vilification of the Government’s Command Agriculture programme.

Moyo had just rechristened the programme “Command Ugly-Culture” to show his disdain for the programme which stems from his disagreement with Vice President Mnangagwa who, as part of Government, has been doing his part to drive the programme.

We posited that there was something “ugly” with Moyo’s head which needed examining.

Indeed, his tiff is ugly – as is also his behaviour as a senior official at party and Government level.

The article, we must admit, carried a couple of jabs but which we hoped were friendly enough.

But we also budgeted for an ugly response from the Professor who is known to take no prisoners.

His response was amusing and brief.

He wrote: “Something’s ugly with Moyo’s head” vomits the @HeraldZimbabwe. Even North Korean propaganda is better than this!

Nice and brief!

Only it reminded us of once upon a time in Korea!

And that is not so many years of water under the bridge.

Handei tione!

EDITORIAL COMMENT: Chevrons must shine again on the big stage

ON the 25th anniversary of Zimbabwe joining a small elite band of countries in the world deemed good enough to play Test cricket, the ultimate format of this game which to many represents the sport’s soul, the International Cricket Council have added that exclusive membership with two other nations.

The ICC voted overwhelmingly this week to grant Afghanistan and Ireland into the Test cricket family, granting the two nations full Membership status and bringing the number of Test-playing countries in the world to 12.

It’s the first time that the Test-playing membership has been increased since Bangladesh were granted Test status in 2000 and only the second time, in the past 25 years, that the ICC have decided to add to that membership.

Australia and England are the founder members of that club after they played the first Test match in Melbourne in 1877 while India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, the West Indies, South Africa and Bangladesh are the other members.

Zimbabwe and South Africa are the only two African nations who have Test cricket status in the world.

Both Ireland and Afghanistan have shown remarkable improvement, in their game, in recent years to justify their inclusion in the exclusive club of Test-playing countries.

We welcome them on board and this is significant for Zimbabwe cricket because the pool is now bigger and this means our Chevrons, who have struggled to get Test matches, now have more chances of plunging into action and playing in this five-day format of the game.

The Chevrons, who are currently on a European tour that has seen them play in Scotland and the Netherlands, are set to play a Test match against Sri Lanka next month, but as coach Heath Streak has repeatedly said, his men badly need more Test matches for them to keep improving as a team.

“If you look at the gaps that we had after that tri-series we had two and half months of no cricket and then we played Afghanistan and then again we had another two and half months before we play in Sri Lanka,’’ Streak told this newspaper recently.

“So it’s important for us to get some sort of games as preparation going into that Sri Lankan series.’’

The coach argues that it’s not just a coincidence that the Chevrons were at their strongest, in international cricket, when they were playing a lot of matches and points to 2001 when Zimbabwe played seven Test series, four triangular tournaments and four ODI series as they engaged each and every one of the ICC Full Members.

Full membership of the ICC also comes with huge financial rewards and powerhouse India will receive almost a quarter of the total cash which will be handed by the ICC for the cricket cycle 2016 to 2023.

The Indians, who generate the majority of the funding, will get $405m, England will receive $139m, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, New Zealand and West Indies receive $128m each while Zimbabwe will receive $94m.

Ireland and Afghanistan will see their funding rise significantly, now that they are full members of the ICC, but the two countries will receive far less funds when compared to Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe Cricket has been battling under a weight of financial challenges and the increased funding from the ICC is likely to help them in a big way, including servicing their huge debt and also taking care of the development structures to ensure that there is a steady stream of good players being produced to fly our national flag.

We badly need to transform our national cricket team into a side that can compete against the best in the world, justifying why we belong to the elite club of Test nations, and it’s incumbent upon the Zimbabwe Cricket authorities to ensure that they get their priorities right.

It’s no use being the richest sporting discipline in the country when the results on the pitch do not justify such a lofty status and our challenge, to those who are in charge of this game, is for them to ensure that the funding they are getting from the ICC gets into the priority areas and not spent on things that don’t help our game.

We are happy that there appears to be a determination, among the game’s leaders, to ensure that the players spend as much time as possible playing the game because that is the only way they can get better and better, in terms of their performance levels.

Their decision to send the Chevrons to play tricky matches against Scotland, which ended in a draw, and the Netherlands, a series we won with a game to play today, after we failed to qualify for the ICC Champions Trophy, is the right move in terms of player development.

Cricket is a huge part of our sporting culture and we want to see our Chevrons shining again on the big stage.

Manheru: Adieus and Hello Zimbabwe!

Jonathan Moyo

Jonathan Moyo

THE OTHER SIDE NATHANIEL MANHERU
IT’S been many seasons ever since this column was launched, more accurately ever since I adopted it from its “tired” founder, Professor Jonathan Moyo. While I know Nathaniel to be his middle name, I will not hazard a guess on why he surnamed it Manheru. A classmate of his who claims to have grown up with him in one of the then African suburbs of Bulawayo has shared some theory on the provenance of that surname. I dare not repeat his story here, for it’s none of my business. But the genesis of this column is quite interesting in its own right, and would require a long narrative portion of its own. I will attempt a broad brush. The column, together with its short-lived variant in the Bulawayo Chronicle, which the same founder called “Lowani”, arose in circumstances in which the opposition MDC had virtually hegemonised institutions of higher education, not to mention that party’s hold on intellectuals already in the field, among them most lawyers. For at launch, the MDC had skilfully turned itself into a fashion fad, with its hold on a generation disturbingly palpable. The times were torrid for Zanu-PF and its government. The narrative of the ruling party was not only too familiar to energise; it sounded predictable, reducible and hackneyed to the point of being uninventive, and of crying out for renewal. MDC had corralled trendy political nomenclature. This was quite disturbing, unsettling.

Hastening the hand of time

But there was a chink in MDC’s armour. The MDC did not need to be clever; it only needed to be associated with a certain vocabulary, and with people generally regarded as clever and harbingers of new times, of change. Jonathan and I knew this. For beneath this show of political modernity and sophistication, indeed beneath the catchy “Chinja” slogan, a slogan which was accompanied by a defiant thrust of open palms, lay pedestrian intellect, much of it clothed in borrowed robes, robes borrowed from the West. MDC rode on the crest of this and forgot to think beyond slogans and reducible neo-liberal terminology. We knew that time would soon vaporise this enchanting novelty. The key was to hold the centre, possibly pushing the hour and minute-hand beyond the tic-toc pace of natural time. To induce faster perishability to this highly toxic political fad!

Days donors dominated

Still those western robes, borrowed though they might have been, had found ripe ground in the disgruntled national psyche, indeed amounted to a layer of adversity for both of us, positioned as we were to reassert long-vanished thought leadership of the ruling Party already viewed as tired and old-fashioned, against new times. For the MDC had on its list great researchers and great research institutions from the West, and also from white South Africa, which drove and animated its mind, and from which it garbled profound thoughts against which Zanu-PF and its government were measured. To that add donor funding which drove local research at a time when Government was not investing in knowledge production, still less in retaining the loyalty of the literati, organic intellectuals in Gramscian terms. This donor patronage made it handsomely rewarding for local scholars to take up western-sponsored sabbaticals. Or to take up research projects which were paid for in hard currency at a time when the local unit was on a vertiginous tailspin. The donors would not only pay; they would also create audiences and induce accolades for research results and publications. And because they had invested in the so-called private press, these research outputs were sure to find repeated loud play here at home.

Fitting a stereotype

To that, too, add this abiding perception that the Zimbabwean bureaucracy was bereft of intellectuals, bereft to levels of anaemia. That all it produced was staid at best, thoughtless at worst. And predictable responses to challenges of the day did not help matters at all. The Zimbabwe Bureaucracy seemed easy to encompass by way of its thought-tracks, unvaryingly predictable. It lacked surprises, nuances. It was not clever, knew no arresting sound-bites so much the idiom of the age. Much worse, it reacted, reacted and reacted, and often with hard armour, thereby perfectly fitting a well-calibrated stereotype of a high-handed autocracy. Soon it was discounted as a credible site of an alternative viewpoint, which meant it was not only justifiable to publish without it; it was in fact moral to do so, indeed proof of your commitment to the rule of law, human rights, democracy and, ironically enough, transparency! Looking back, it is clear the ruling Party had been overtaken by the very society it sought to govern. Society had marched on, marched ahead, and had found a new mores, and acquired a great deal more sophistication than could be digested by its governors, however powerful.

Except you have to have intellect

Not that the ruling Party had no intellectuals, no morality, no convincing, winning ideology. Far from it. Only that long years of enjoying the liberation dividend and the smugness that inevitably followed, had bred incredible thought indolence and complacency. And also a false sense that a wartime national grievance needed no rehashing; that it was self-evident and spoke for itself! For here was a ruling party firmly on the side of the landless majority, yet losing the argument to an invading race, supported by local puppets. Or misled students. A party struggling to convince a disinherited people on the correctness of recovering their heirloom! It was crazy. I remember raising this with President Mugabe, specifically raising the issue of why Zanu-PF had lost control of the university it had inherited, lost control of all universities it had created, and continued to create. In half frustration and half anger, President Mugabe retorted: “Except you have to be an intellectual yourself to engage universities.” I cringed. Still I shared this short conversation I had had with the President, shared it with Professor Moyo, then my minister, and himself an intellectual of note.

Absolved reporters

Looking at the media terrain, one was struck by the sheer paucity of graduate employees in newsrooms. You notice I avoided the word “reporters”, which in fact summed up our dilemma. Possibly because of too frequent use, it is often forgotten that etymologically the noun “reporter” comes from the prefix “re-”, which means ‘again”, and the verb “port” which means “to carry”. Our newsrooms were dominated by porters who could only “carry” and “carry again” thoughts given them by self-interested sources. Like we say in Shona, mutumwa haana mbonje — the messenger bears no scars. His is only to carry, to faithfully convey to the receiver. There was thus this culturally embedded and excused stance of non-committal uncritical-ness in our newsrooms which stood eternally absolved. As a reporter, your role was simply to carry back to society what the politician would have said, however bald. And the more home-grown the argument or source was, the greater the contempt. And the obverse, the more overseas a source was trained or domiciled, the greater the aura of believability, of respectability.

Thought encirclement

Using an age-old strategy, imperialism which had ranged itself against Zanu-PF and Zimbabwe, would make well-timed, periodic thought interventions both from the Metropolis and from Zimbabwe or the region, interventions sure to find loyal conveyancing in our reporters so besotted by wise men and women from the West. Zanu-PF had not invested in newsrooms to found knowledge cadres who could critically relate to ideas and their purveyors. The more so when these purveyors were white Westerners backed by institutions whose fame in knowledge production spanned over centuries of proven intellectual endeavour. Such as Cato, NDI, IRI or Westminster something. Or even their black clones here by way of local scholars raised in these leading western institutions. Or better still their racial scions manning think-tanks in South Africa. Zanu-PF faced a stiff epistemological assault and crisis. And as insiders, the Professor and I keenly felt the crisis, and in ways that pricked both of us quite personally. For both of us had eaten considerable book, in my case largely at home; both of us knew the need to decolonise structures of knowledge. Indeed both of us knew the need to build alternative knowledge sites, all of them steeped in the liberation narrative which sorely needed revamping from its wartime premises. We knew and saw the need to confront the rabid, externally-sponsored narrative that ran counter not just to the politics of formal decolonisation, but also counter to the continuing project of validating that formal decolonisation through social justice, initially and principally through land reforms.

Feral western press

All this, in rough and in summary, provides a context within which “The Other Side” must be read and understood. The goal was to challenge emerging orthodoxy, all of it oppositional; all of it western inspired and amplified, all of it aimed at shifting national thinking in ways that hallowed Western neo-liberal thinking. And, much of it localised and legitimised through native echoes by way of well-regarded, black-skinned scholars. The goal, too, was to provide intellectual justification to clearly far-sighted policies which Zanu-PF pursued seemingly without consent or popular base, all of them steeped in history and founded in nationalist struggle, but none of which was being articulated, explained or defended convincingly. Not helped by the Western press which ran riot in bastardising any such forlorn explanations, themselves already weak and inordinately intermittent anyway. Short of getting the President to be in the news every day, it became very difficult to see how else the situation could be salvaged. And the West and its fiercely loyal, feral and well-networked media systems wanted exactly that: to put the President on the spot all the time in order to cheapen or exhaust him. Which meant to us the defence of the Zimbabwe revolution would entail protecting the man at the apex against deliberately engineered mundaneness calculated to tire him out, and to lower his value and newsworthiness.

Winning both on swings and roundabouts

Much worse, there was also a direct economic motive to this media-led western slander of the country and its leadership. Apart from raising a broader defence for local white landed interests, as well as for an “emigre” landed gentry owning and running estates here through proxy management, western publishers would slander the country in order to create and stimulate demand for paid-up advertorial interventions by the victim through which those same recited calumnies, hopefully would be corrected. There was thus this baffling duality to the media-led attack on Zimbabwe: a raw impugning of country policies and all corrective activities that upset colonially ordained economic structures on the one hand, and fervent courtship for expensive “country specials” to be paid for by the maligned Zimbabwe Government on the other. The flip side of an attacking white western journalist was always a supple white publicist vending out expensive pages for advertorials, all to be inserted into the same papers that attacked the country. That way, imperialism sought to make rich pickings both at the swings and at the roundabouts.

Retrofitting social thoughts

The response to all broadened attacks took many forms which cannot be encompassed by this piece whose focus, anyway, is the column. Let it be said that for a while, Professor Moyo was the hand behind the Nathaniel Manheru column. It does not take much analysis — whether thematic, tonal or stylistic — to gauge how far into the column he went. Or to tell when I took over from him, and this after he could not “service” the column for reasons which he himself might want to shed some day. His style and mine are quite different. Here and there, Zimpapers staffers would contribute under the same pseudonym, which, again, should be very easy to tell. But this was for a very short time and in few instances that I wouldn’t be available. Under my hand, the column consolidated a readership which grew and grew until it became not just a talking point nationally, but also until it attracted sprite legal and political responses, none of which ever succeeded or prevailed respectively. Its uniqueness rested in its combative and compulsive stylistic presence which made it a reading experience both for friend and for foe. Much more, it bedecked its arguments with deep research and literary quotes which made it unassailable. With time, it reoccupied the centre-point of national debate, even becoming a good and trusted hint at occurrences in the national body-politic. With good reason, many suspected the writer wrote in close proximity to political decision making units, which meant its hints could not be taken lightly. The initiative had been regained, itself the goal of the column. And once comfortably set in the agenda-setting seat, the column proceeded to help with broader social thought “retrofitting” in order to elaborate on the ever-evolving policy and praxis terrain. I hope this is not an idle boast. After all the proof of having successfully jumped down the giant iroko tree is a journey home, and many such journeys long after!

Unnerved by the President

Apart from its broad readership, whether at home or abroad, whether national or foreign, the column enjoyed patronage of key elements in the leadership. I recall an unsettling conversation I had with the President who, in noting a general misconception on a key policy pursued by his Government which I shall not disclose, added: “I notice even Manheru is also unclear on this one!” It had never occurred to me that the President took time to read the column which, on not so few occasions, revelled in the bawdy and abrasive, especially in its irreverent treatment of opponents. It was a felling blow and I recall missing two instalments in a row thereafter. Just the mere knowledge that the President at times read the column was staggering! More feedback would come from him, including his criticism that Professor Moyo and I were writing above the very society we were supposed to convince and move. And in case we doubted his fitness to make the critical observation, he added: “I was the founder Secretary for Information and Publicity in the National Democratic Party, NDP”. Fortunately he left room for some defences. Comrade President, I remember lamely contradicting him, the column is meant to challenge and topple hostile intellectuals who were beginning to hog the thought limelight, all to the detriment of the Party. “Alright then.” I very doubt that he was convinced.

Mission impossible for Timba

Another unsettling feedback came from a long-time friend, the late Alexander Kanengoni. Then, I had decided to call off the column temporarily to allow the tender shoots of the Inclusive Government to sprout, grow firm and strong. The reading in the market was that Cde Webster Shamu, my minister then, had stopped the column. That was untrue. He would never do such a thing. It was a personal decision, and one founded on a promise to bring it back at an appropriate time. Which happened, but not without another round of awkwardness. It so happened that MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai, then as Prime Minister in the Inclusive Government, came for a meeting at State House with President Mugabe. His party had on numerous occasions complained about the column, even putting pressure on Hon. Timba, then Deputy Minister of Information and Publicity in the Inclusive Government, to ensure the column was stopped. Of course this was a tall order. Besides, Hon. Timba found himself in a double bind: first, he could not have sought to stop the column without exposing himself and his party to charges of paying lip service to the notion of freedom of expression; second, he and I had been colleagues at the University, something which meant we had a relationship that ran deeper than mere party dichotomies. It’s a relationship we have kept intact to this day.

The day uncle felled Manheru

But clearly frustrated by the lack of progress in stopping the column, the then Prime Minister took it upon himself to tackle me directly. Except he used a flank I had not expected, and nearly felled me: “Muzukuru, kana wotuka, uzive kusiya pohukama!” Oh my good Lord! I couldn’t even raise a defense, only managing to limp away, mortally wounded by overwhelming guilt. The MDC-T leader is my uncle. His rural home is barely 10 minutes’ drive from my rural home. A double uncle in the sense that two of my “big mothers” by my late father’s elder brother, who is also late, consanguineously links me to the Tsvangirai family. The first “big mother” hails from the Mbwera family, itself part of the then Prime Minister’s Save or Nerutanga Family. The second, lesser “big mother” comes from the Mupfigi Family, again part of the VaDanga clan to which Sekuru Tsvangirai is a part! From this encounter I learnt one big lesson: far worse than laws that abridge freedom of expression is a sense of obligation to the high and mighty.

A ghost called Charamba

Back to Cde Alexander Kanengoni. When I voluntarily called off the column, he dedicated a whole piece to the decision. A requiem of sorts. That did not surprise me much for I knew him to be an adoring reader of the column. Except he added a chastisement which whilst gentle couched, did cut me to the quick: Even my good friend Manheru, he counselled, must know that all wars end up at the table! When the column resurrected for an after-life, I was a lot wiser, often tempering my barbs with deep counsel that sought more to reform than to scald. Kanengoni delivered a life-changing chastisement, one which I also wish the column’s founder could also heed! The other loyal reader was Cde Chinx, so freshly departed. I paid tribute to him last Sunday when I had an opportunity to console his family. In my tribute to him, I “outed” myself, and this as my tribute to the late departed. As always, the message was lost in reportage. Cde Chinx knew who Nathaniel Manheru was; he did not need to discover this from his coffin. We connected on that and on many other scores. In fact, each time I drew from his songs, I would cross-check with him for an accurate rendition. I used his demise to tell Zimbabweans — not Chinx — that I, George Charamba, am the ghost writer who went under the pseudonym Nathaniel Manheru.

Another ghost, same struggle

Since that self-outing, self-stripping as one website called it, friends have asked: why did you do it? Here is the answer. Of course once a ghost names itself, it’s time for wondering the earth is done. It must retire to the cemetery, to join the dead, indeed to sleep hopefully eternally. Which is what I do with this instalment, itself the last. So, adieus Zimbabwe! Bearing in mind of course that what reawakens ghosts are angering acts by the living. In those circumstances, the earth will reawaken, to great grief for all living souls. After all, every parting, every departure, presages another coming, another encounter, most probably in this life, hopefully in the one after, but definitely in another form, on some another thought, by some other style. The struggle is long, the cause undying. For if you ask me what the National Question is today, my response will be: specifically to defend our Independence; and generally to deepen the cause of African liberation. This is why Chinx sang, “Vanhu Vese Vemuno MuAfrica”, of course without being oblivious to struggles unfolding in Asia and Latin America. For now the goals have been met and the enemy is prostrated. The guns must be silenced or, to summon Chinx yet again, hiss the sweet sounds of freedom. Till we meet again, it’s Aluta Continua.

Icho!

[email protected]

New system to reduce roadblocks

Seven traffic officers “gang up” against a motorist along the Harare-Bulawayo Highway in Warren Park, Harare, recently. — Picture by Innocent Makawa

Seven traffic officers “gang up” against a motorist along the Harare-Bulawayo Highway in Warren Park, Harare, recently. — Picture by Innocent Makawa

Sydney Kawadza Senior Features Writer
Reports of reduced police presence on the roads were received first with glee and later with indignation as it emerged that only standard roadblocks would be reduced to four per province.

Home Affairs Minister Ignatius Chombo reportedly told the Parliamentary Committee on Transport and Infrastructure Development that he had directed Police Commissioner-General Dr Augustine Chihuri to remove all unnecessary roadblocks.

The glee turned into gloom as Deputy Minister Abedingwa Mguni clarified the meaning of standard roadblocks that would be reduced. Minister Chombo said the move was Government’s response to concerns raised by tourists and motorists over high police presence on the roads.

“My ministry is concerned about non-compliance by public service vehicles, which have also contributed to a large number of road traffic accidents, whose permits, certificates of fitness, drivers’ licences and route authority permits are generated by both RMT and VID.

“The ZRP will not be able to verify these documents with their hand held gadgets until such a time when RMT and VID have been integrated into CVR, Zinara, Zimra, VTS and ZRP Traffic. “Full integration of these systems will help reduce corruption among ZRP officers, as well as the number of roadblocks our roads,” he said.

He further announced that Government would soon unveil an electronic traffic management system. The system would integrate all transport stakeholders like the police, Vehicle Inspection Department, Zimbabwe National Roads Administration, Road Motor Transport and Central Vehicle Registry (CVR).

This would, he said, bring to an end to traffic management challenges. Minister Chombo said the police is moving towards full a computerisation system using hand held devices to verify the authenticity of documents.

Minister Chombo

Minister Chombo

These would include drivers’ licences, Zinara licensing, vehicle insurance, ZBC licensing, permits, transit and cross-border receipts. “It will not be possible for the ZRP to electronically verify documents generated by the VID and RMT. In addition, verification of these documents usually takes a long time, thereby causing delays,” he said.

The Home Affairs Minister further expressed concern on the rampant corruption by traffic officers and the general outcry on the number of roadblocks. Deputy Minister Mguni later said besides corruption, Government wanted to promote the ease of doing business and dealing with issues to do with delays on the roads.

The argument, is therefore that, full integration of these systems will help in reducing corruption among police details and the number of roadblocks on the roads. Hence, the ministry wants to introduce the speedy integration of all traffic management systems. The implementation of the Electronic Traffic Management System would include the installation of integrated centres, deployment of mobile hand-held traffic enforcement devices, speed cameras and an updated vehicle system.

In defining the “standard roadblocks” and why they are mounted, Deputy Minister Mguni, in an interview, said there are three different types in Zimbabwe. “The common is a standard roadblock and, internationally, you are required to set-up visible security barriers such as drums that are painted with visible colours and reflectors.

“They include booms that can stop vehicles with signs that will alert drivers who are about 80 metres away. “Everything should be there including the blue lights because some of these can stretch into the night. “And that roadblock, the standard one, should be manned by more than four traffic officers.”

At the spot checks, he said, police will profile an area where there is always or suspected criminal activity. Police would be in these areas to check whether there are any crimes happening or just showing their visibility, he said. “This is to make sure that crime ridden areas are cleaned up. These are not permanent, you go there, and hit, unexpectedly,” the deputy minister said.

The third, he said, is the highway patrol. “The highway patrol usually has cars that will be driving along the highways and detecting the driving trends on the roads. “They will be checking defective cars and they can stop drivers who will be misbehaving.”

The highway patrol officers, he added, would also be on the lookout for criminals and even trucks with suspicious cargo. “These, in the new system, would be linked to main centres where they can check on registration numbers for verification and vetting,” he said.

In further clarifying the “four roadblocks per province” issue, Deputy Minister Mguni said most capital or major cities in Zimbabwe are built on an almost similar pattern. “We have seen that there are usually four major roads leading to a provincial capital city on which the standard road blocks can be established,” he said.

Deputy Minister Mguni

Deputy Minister Mguni

The deputy minister said Government wants to get rid of permanent roadblocks which are avoided by errant drivers. “The police are strategic and tactful. They do profiling and have intelligence. These four standard roadblocks in a province will be complimented by spot checks and highway patrol and police presence and visibility will be maintained,” he said.

In the new electronic traffic management system, he said, the various Government departments will work together. “We need the VID. They are important because they are the ones that have to check the vehicles’ fitness. “Obviously, if the vehicle has not gone through the VID we are not sure if the vehicle is allowed to use our roads. “We need the MRT, we need the CVR and we need Zimra. We need Zinara and VTS and then the ZRP itself.”

The police, with the electronic gadgets, will get vehicle information on registration and clearance by the departments. He said Minister Chombo will launch the first of the various integrated traffic management system centres to be established across Zimbabwe at Avondale Police Station.

The centres will also receive all information on vehicles using the country’s roads. “The system is similar to those used in other countries like South Africa where a detector is laid on the road and when a car crosses it all information appears on a computer.

“The electronic device will indicate to officers whether the car is cleared to be on the road or there are outstanding tickets or defects. “That is what we call ease of doing business . . . We are looking for people committing crime not interfering with law abiding citizens.”

He said the system would also help to do away with corruption. “Whatever the offence . . . everything would be relayed to the integrated centre where it will show this officer has issued a ticket number to this vehicle. “I am sure you can see at the centre how many tickets would have been issued. “There will never be any negotiations on the road. The police detail punches in the offence and fine charged and it will indicate in the database.”

He said Government had also noted that road carnage was the major crime in Zimbabwe. “I am basing this on the reports we get but I know the number one crime in Zimbabwe is road carnage. This is because there are a lot of fake licences in Zimbabwe.”

He said the VID can claim to have issued about 50 000 licences but that will never correspond with the money they declare to the State. “You can only find that half of these licences were not accounted for. This is because there is no integration,” Deputy Minister Mguni said.

Integration, he said, means the system would upgrade all information in the country’s database as soon as one is sued with a licence. He said compliant motorists will drive smoothly while exposing defiant and errant drivers.

Deputy Minister Mguni said the system has been very effective where it has been implemented. “In South Africa, they have an edge over us because they have got a manufacturing industry within their country and a vehicle is registered within the system as soon as it has been manufactured.

“When a crime has been committed, even going through a traffic light, it will be recorded in the system and wherever you go they will be looking for you with your case number,” he said.

The deputy minister said besides reducing the number of roadblocks, the system will also do away with spot fines. “An officer can let a driver go, knowing that he can pay within seven days and if he doesn’t pay, one day, he will cross that electronic detecting system which will pick up the pending case so the police will stop that person,” he said.

Deputy Minister Mguni said drivers with pending cases would be forced to pay spot fines. “This is working in other countries because all concerns raised are dealt with through the Electronic Traffic Management System.”

In reducing police roadblocks, all rural police stations will confine traffic law enforcement away from the highways in their policing areas. The roadblocks will be manned by the ZRP Traffic Section with each policing district having one on each side of the highway.

For example, the ZRP Rusape District traffic section will have one roadblock between the town and Mutare. Another one would be set up between Rusape and Marondera. The national highway patrol will compliment traffic enforcement through mobile patrols while co-ordinated Government agencies’ roadblocks will be introduced to reduce the numbers.

Police will also introduce more point of sale machines at all traffic enforcements.

EDITORIAL COMMENT: Zhuwao needs assistance, handholding

YOUTH Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment Minister Patrick Zhuwao needs help!

We are really concerned by the policy ignorance he publicly flaunts like a badge of honour as it does not bode well for the public’s confidence in Government.

As we report elsewhere in this issue, while addressing a youth seminar in Harare yesterday, Minister Zhuwao failed to locate the Command Agriculture Programme within Zim-Asset, Government’s economic blueprint, as he accused us of promoting the programme at the expense of Zim-Asset.

What made Minister Zhuwao’s howler even more regrettable is that it came at a time his principal, President Mugabe is addressing nationwide Youth Interface Rallies appraising youths on Government policies including the highly successful Command Agriculture Programme.

Minister Zhuwao claimed our positive coverage of Command Agriculture was aimed at enhancing the political career of an unnamed individual. We have news for him. We report on Command Agriculture not because it uplifts any individual but because it is a highly successful Government programme that uplifts the nation.

If Command Agriculture can be accused of uplifting anyone, then it uplifts the originator of the idea First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe, it uplifts and speaks to the vision of the author of Zim-Asset who is President Mugabe and Zanu-PF and uplifts the Government he leads in the eyes of the governed.

What is ironic is that Minister Zhuwao accuses us of what he is guilty of: Trashing Command Agriculture in the belief it promotes the profile of VP Emmerson Mnangagwa who was assigned by President Mugabe to supervise the programme in his capacity as chairman of the Cabinet Committee on Food and Nutrition.

Minister Zhuwao also had the temerity to accuse our editor-in-chief of posing as the repository of ideas. While we concede that being an editor does not suggest a monopoly of knowledge, we find it very disturbing that a Member of Parliament who is also a minister in Government shows such appalling ignorance of policy.

Minister Zhuwao appears to be hostage to his own erroneous interpretation of Command Agriculture to the extent that he does not see Command Agriculture as Government policy, but a means to an end in the calculus of succession politics.

This is quite regrettable.

On our part, we see Command Agriculture as evidence of visionary leadership, far-sighted leadership that sees beyond the transient politics of succession.

It, however, is not lost to us that if Minister Zhuwao had a constituency, he would probably be in touch with the pro-Command Agriculture sentiment in the countryside in light of the bumper harvest that will see the country harvesting over four million tonnes in food crops according to the latest crop assessment.

But because he deservedly lost his constituency to Cde Francis Mukwangwariwa, Minister Zhuwao appears to have equally abdicated his responsibility to the rural poor who stand to benefit from Command Agriculture.

We advise him, in his own interest, that those who want to have long careers in politics must know that the power brokers in Zimbabwe are the farmers in the countryside.

But expecting Minister Zhuwao to comprehend this requires a massive leap of faith given that he is the same minister who prompted President Mugabe to issue a statement on April 11 last year clarifying Government’s position on the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Policy after successive howlers!

Well, we know the politics that Minister Zhuwao was following prior to being brought back into line!

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