The dishonesty of the new Zanu (PF) online propaganda frontier

With this quotation from George Orwell, that political prose is formed "to make lies sound truthful … and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind," Zanu (PF)’s latest propagandist, Tendai Midzi, seems to be describing his own writing.

“This contagion” he writes in his indecipherable piece on the propaganda site, Zimbabwe Guardian “is prevalent in today’s fast moving media world that it spreads even to the unsuspecting.”

Lest he carries on spreading his contagion to unsuspecting Zimbabweans, I thought I should try and decipher his scrawling to expose the intellectual dishonesty that it exhibits, just like the writings of all defenders of Zanu (PF), or defenders of any dictatorship.

After more quotations from John E. Joseph, Walter Lippman, Noam Chomsky which were irrelevant, his assertion that ‘Time and place are often used in politics, together with language, to protect or defend a way of thinking or to influence certain kind of behaviour’ remains as obvious as it was without seeking quotations from those intellectual giants.

Clearly his attempt to use language to perpetuate Zanu (PF) lies was failing him as he started to become emotional, claiming a “warlike and hostile” environment created by “a web of deceit by so-called independent media, the MDC and other variously titled organisations like the National Constitutional Assembly.”

Surely given current environment which is hostile to the independent-media and backed by the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), and judges like Justice Bhunu who would sue their accused for questioning their impartiality, the independent Press is clearly treading on eggshells, otherwise we would have already seen some arrests already.

Rather than peddling lies, the independent Press are clearly the ones going after the stories which the Zanu (PF)-controlled (and tax-payer funded) Press is not allowed to publish, about the political violence that is being used to maintain Zanu (PF)’s rule, the diamond corruption, and the rational opposition that is gaining momentum everyday – and they make sure they have their evidence before they publish, which is why, when they do publish, the stories not disputed.

As Midzi admits himself, he treats the stories as anti Zanu-PF rhetoric to be endured rather than paid attention to, “like the weather in London” which he seems to know something about. So Jabulani Sibanda does not exist, and and Jestina Mukoko and all the MDC activists now suing the security ministers, were not detained and tortured as part of Zanu (PF) repression? It is all anti-Zanu (PF) propaganda?

He says the MDC uses language to hoodwink the people of Zimbabwe (who are obviously not as clever as Midzi who cannot be hoodwinked) and it uses language to claim some “superficial superiority over politics in Zimbabwe” (whatever that means) while advancing “half-baked ideas subtly and subliminally as group-think, rather than the secret plan of an ideologically bereft and politically greedy cabal!

And he says more; the MDC uses tricks too woo people, yet the people have never really had time to understand what the MDC means; MDC the formations have never really told the people of Zimbabwe what their vision of the country is; yet they are supported by those who do so “on no basis,” says Midzi, scraping the bottom of the barrel.

He says people of Zimbabwe did not understand what the Winters of Discontent and The Final Push was all about; those who lived through it without roofs on their heads know it, but more importantly these were simply other mobilizing points for the MDC in the face of repression by Zanu (PF).

Midzi also says he does not know who Chamisa is talking about when he says "The people". For his information: it the hundreds of thousands who attend the MDC’s rallies and consultative meetings – the same people that the police are now trying to stop the MDC leadership from meeting by banning the consultative meetings – the same people that Zanu (PF) has to force to its meetings, but who attend MDC meetings willingly and eagerly. These are the people who inform the MDC.

And yes the MDC is more concerned about the 7 million Zimbabweans who are unemployed than the 2 000 or so Zanu (PF) Indigenous Looters who are jockeying for the companies now being doled out to them by Kasukuwere.

But saying that Deputy PM Thokozani Khupe recently told Zimbabweans in the United States that Zimbabweans back home do not need to own the means of production, but want jobs, is therefore another example of Midzi’s intellectual dishonesty.

When he asks whether Dr Madhuku’s NCA has any people in it and who he represents, Midzi shows that he was either not born or was not in Zimbabwe when the National Constitutional Assembly mobilised people all over the country to reject Zanu (PF)’s attempt to modify the constitution for its own purposes.

Those people are still mobilised, though the membership of the NCA overlaps with MDC membership, which is why Dr Madhuku has a difficult time convincing them to reject a process which is being supported by the MDC. Both organisations are squarely in the democracy camp, except one is an ngo and the other a political party.

Midzi measures Zanu (PF)’s progressiveness by its indigenisation policy which, even if we assume it is successfully implemented, is not going to bring about any expansion of industry, only a carving up existing companies and giving directorships to people who in most cases will not be bringing any value to the boards; no expansion will take place, and no new people employed.

The 80% or our people who are unemployed, will remain so. A wiser policy would have been to seek goodwill in the international capitalist world and encourage joint ventures between the indigenous and NEW investors. But you cannot have good will when you are denouncing the very potential investors at every turn.

On land it is absolutely dishonest of Midzi to say the MDC wishes the land policy reversed, land redistributed colonial-style, yet the MDC is clearly on record saying it wants a land audit – another issue that Zanu (PF) fears because it will reveal that its top brass allocated themselves, their children and their sons in-law prime farms regardless of their ability to farm. Yet trained farmers needing land are crammed in the hillsides of Nyamaropa.

Frequent usage of the term unsuspecting Zimbabweans by Midzi suggests that the MDC has somehow subverted the people with its messages of democracy which he says are “empty, but lofty words, yet Zimbabweans do not know if these people can deliver in real terms.”

Zanu (PF) has had 30 years of promising and failing while in government all by itself, so maybe the people are right to give the MDC the benefit of any doubt. And to demonstrate his shallowness Midzi asks how the MDC will get foreign assistance from countries that are trying to save money the United Kingdom which is cutting government expenditure.

He ignores the news which he obviously would have heard that Prime Minister David Cameroon has said foreign aid is ring-fence it. After all the UK’s foreign aid budget is only about 1 percent of its total budget, though nearly half of the people in rural areas of Zimbabwe are dependent on the food aid from Britain and America, which Midzi talks so disparagingly about.

But we could not have expected any better from someone who thinks that the media has been “manufacturing dissent “on behalf of the MDC-T.

Sanctions, he says, were “part of an elaborate propaganda scheme to foment hatred and disgust in the hearts and minds of the Zimbabwean people and turn them against the liberators, and change the independence and sovereignty discourse of Zanu-PF to the survival discourse, by manufacturing consent for imperialist-driven agenda.”

Yet Robert Mugabe himself hosted the Harare Summit of the Commonwealth where it was agreed that member states would abide by democratic electoral practices, and he signed the declaration, only for him to violate the same agreement by rigging elections, thus inviting the sanctions upon himself.

If anyone therefore has made Mugabe and his merry band of robber barons “less than” it is they themselves, and the media is only reflecting the resultant conflict with the people. Any attempts to blame it on imperialism just falls flat.

Then comes another media thug in the Zanu (PF) stable, Basil Mutoti , whose attempt to intimidate journalists in diaspora is as transparent as it is shallow.

He calls them young people in the Diaspora and he believes they have no capacity to understand the debates that are going on about the country; "they have been sucked into political debates they do not comprehend fully" he writes.

In fact he is reinforcing the intimidation already started by Zanu (PF) with the lawsuit by Justice Bhunu against Roy Bennett for questioning the impartiality of a judiciary that has been pampered with farms and flat-screen televisions outside of their Judicial Services Commission conditions.

The law suit itself could have been defended and won – it is clearly the right of a citizen to question whether the principle of the impartiality of the judiciary is being upheld – but it is the way the case was going to be prosecuted that has forced Roy Bennett to flee for his life.

Having been forced to share a cell with a dead body in remand and denied release from remand even when the bail had been granted by the courts; having been singled out by the Head of State for a refusal to be sworn into his office; Bennett had every reason to fear for his life.

The same applies to any writer editor who the state might want to fix for having published some unpleasant truth; whether it is slanderous, libelous or defamatory is for the courts to decide and give the appropriate punishment for breaking the law. Yes we do admit that the easy access to technology has attracted people into the field who may not necessarily be trained in the ethics of journalism.

But we believe we are better off with more people being or trying to be journalists than fewer. What democrats are fighting for is this, that it is not the job of the CIO or the Police to take that man and lock him up under primitive conditions, and even torture him, only for him to be acquitted by the courts because the man he called a murder was indeed a murder, or was vicariously responsible for a murder, or is a rapist.

Mutoti says of the former editor of Zimdaily editor, he has disappeared from the limelight, but the damage he has caused cannot be easily forgotten. But what about the thing that made him so angry, the Zanu (PF) murderers, rapists and looters who have not disappeared from the limelight, and whose victims see them everyday continuing to perpetrate even more crimes?

While we agree with him that freedom of expression should never be misinterpreted as a right to slander and defame other people, we do not believe journalists should be cowed by repressive legislation that does not allow them to criticize leaders when they err.

Neither do we believe is patriotic to always praise leaders because that is how we end up with despots. “It does not hurt to remain patriotic, and try and influence change in your country, through responsible means,” writes Mutoti, much like what Ian Smith would tell the nationalists, until they realized that they were not getting anywhere through “responsible protest” and so took up arms.

In fact Mutoti’s piece makes for funny reading. He says: “There is always a way to express dissent without hurting others. I am sure there are some things that (BBA) Munya would like to see changed in Zimbabwe; but he is not being irresponsible about it.”

But those who are suppressing the rest, killing, raping and looting are not doing so in a nice and responsible way. They are hurting people and they have killed the standards of living of millions in our beloved country.

He talks of Mutumwa Mawere running his online media campaign to be de-specified and for criminal charges to be dropped. “He never overstepped the boundaries calling people murderers and all sorts. Today he can return home without any fear, and can sit on the same table with former rivals and chart the way forward.”

But what about his loss? Who is going to give him back the companies he lost? What would they be worth today? Who is going to give him back the years he lost in exile? So Mutoti is saying it should always be good for Zanu (PF)?

His is clearly a sugar-coated attempt to intimidate writers who are critical of the government, but very transparent.

Then comes the Editor himself , of talkzimbabwe.com, whose cynicism is contemptible. In defending Zanu (PF) he pretends as if everything in Zimbabwe is normal and there is a working judiciary and rule of law. Yet he knows this is not so.

Writing about Roy Bennett, he says Bennett should respect the rule of law and not flee from it, if he is to be respected as a serious politician and leader. Does one have to die to be respected? Maybe the talkzimbabwe editor should try it himself.

“There are many people who are charged with offences, get convicted or are acquitted. This is not new,” writes the editor, pointing to Farai Maguwu, executive director of the Centre for Research and Development Trust, who was recently set free after months of trial.

But does he know what Maguwu went through in remand, yet he was only being prosecuted to derail his campaign against corruption in diamonds – the judiciary being used for such corrupt purposes; and him being denied his medicine while on remand. He could easily have died there.

“He is no different from Bennett at law,” writes the editor, suspiciously sounding like Itayi Garande who claimed to have fired himself after he put his foot in it.

Now he writes anti-MDC commentaries in The Herald with the same shallow, cynical and Zanu (PF) licking pen.

He tells us that Bennett was to be charged with perjury for giving as his correspondence address an address in the industrial working area in Harare, which apparently the Deputy Sheriff could not find to serve him papers for the law suit by Justice Bhamu. They then went back and started drafting perjury charges against Bennett.

The guardian editor goes to lengths to tell us what a serious charge perjury is, adding, “Bennett could have perjured himself by potentially not telling the truth when he gave his warned and cautioned statement in his terrorism docket.

“Bennett should remember that when he says he is fighting for the rule of law in Zimbabwe, he should submit himself to that rule of law. By running away from Zimbabwe, he is setting a very dangerous precedent and cannot be a champion for the rule of law.” Maybe he should spend a couple of days in remand himself and see if he comes out with the same thoughts.

And he reminds us that the State has a right to appeal against Bennett’s discharge relating to the criminal case.

Writes the Editor, “Bennett should tell the courts, not the newspapers, why the address he gave as his residential address (previously it was correspondence address) leads to an industrial unit in Harare, as alleged by the State.

“Bennett can go to the West to canvass support for the MDC-T, but that does not absolve him of the lawsuits that are before the courts.”

By telling the Press that the police were instructed to arrest him and that he thinks that this was designed by Zanu PF to scuttle his appointment as deputy Agriculture minister, he was “adding to the litany of reckless statements that could bring more lawsuits against him,” wrote the talkzimbabwe editor, concluding that Bennett’s is lawyers should advise him to be cautious in his interviews.

Again we see attempts to silence criticism, a legalistic interpretation of what is clearly political prosecution and persecution of a citizen, and propagandists being brought in to justify the actions of the state.

But in justifying the evil deeds of a repressive state, these propagandists become just as guilty as the state actors whom they are supporting, because they provide the rationale for what the state is doing and therefore encourage it. One might also argue that they are victims in the sense that in order to “succeed” in a repressive system they have to join the system and defend it. What a pity. – Change Zimbabwe