Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Is defence policy a result of poll defeats?

By MuckRaker

‘REVOLUTIONARY” music fans will be elated to know that the Born Free Crew has released yet another scorcher; this time entitled We Salute you. The Herald reports that the group, “popularly” known as Born Free Crew (Team 88) has “become fashion icons in their own right”.

Vice President John Nkomo, Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa (who led the CIO during the Gukurahundi Massacres) and President Robert Mugabe
Vice President John Nkomo, Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa and President Robert Mugabe

The 88 stands for President Robert Mugabe’s age. Apparently the group has also introduced a new hairstyle called “Gushungo”. “The haircut is found in two styles, one that incorporates a mohawk and another which is simple a short haircut but with the words “Gushungo” on the sides,” states the Herald.

How original!

“A number of youngsters are already spotting (sic) the new hairstyle just like the Gushungo clothing line,” we are told. As usual they are only “spotted” in the pages of the state media. Who can forget the much-heralded House of Gushungo fashion stable which had “hit the capital by storm”.

The clothing stable is set to “redefine” the country’s fashion industry which is mostly dominated by foreign clothing labels, ZBC had gushed at the time of the launch. In spite of the seemingly ubiquitous nature of these clothes and hairstyles, they are strangely absent on the streets.

The Born Free Crew has already released a new single called Tirivanhu Vamwe that hit the airwaves last week. Among the people starring in the video of the song is, you guessed it, Media, Information and Publicity minister Webster Shamu.

ZBC reports that the song Gushungo –– referring to President Mugabe –– also features on the album. Talk about overkill!

The Born Free Crew seems to have taken a cue from Simba Makoni’s Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn party’s “kaOne” mantra. This is because another “hit” song on the album is President Mugabe Ka 1.

Shamu, who is also the patron of the Zimbabwe Union of Musicians, commended the group for their efforts in “enlightening the nation”, saying even adults should take a leaf from the youthful group whose understanding of the country’s history is “sound and based on the realities of the nation’s bitter struggle for independence”.

According to the Herald the group started off as an R&B outfit. They, however, later changed their genre to singing “revolutionary” songs. “Since then, Born Free Crew has been on every radio DJ’s playlist while their videos got generous airplay on the small screens.” The fact that Shamu stars in the video might have something to do with it, we are sure.

Meanwhile, ZBC reporter Dorothy Mavolwane left fellow journalists befuddled on Tuesday after getting angry on Zanu PF’s behalf at Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s Strathaven house.

A special envoy, Emmanuel Issoze Ngendet, from Gabon President Ali Bongo Ondimba had come to solicit Zimbabwe’s support for Jean Ping’s re-election bid for the AU Commission chairmanship. After making a courtesy call on Acting President John Nkomo at his Munhumutapa Offices, Issoze Ngendet held a private meeting with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai at his Strathaven home.

While awaiting the end of the meeting, journalists mingled on the lawn of the Prime Minister’s residence. Among them was Mavolwane whose jovial demeanour changed upon the emergence of the envoy from the house. Needing no invitation she charged towards Issoze Ngendet brandishing a microphone. The clearly bemused envoy could only exclaim “you again”.

That was Mavolwane’s cue to commence the interrogation. A barrage of questions ensued with the envoy given little if any time to respond. Why is his country soliciting support from Zimbabwe yet Gabon is “meddling in the country’s internal politics through assisting the MDC-T?” Mavolwane wanted to know.

Issoze Ngendet responded by saying his country has a role to play in the transition period in Zimbabwe. However, this was not to the intrepid state reporter’s satisfaction. “Questioned further on what the ‘transition’ is about the special envoy failed to explain his clear position.”

Mavolwane was clearly peeved on her handlers’ behalf and she was taking no prisoners. Clearly the “African solutions to African problems” mantra is an empty vessel.

“Relations between Harare and Libreville have been frosty over the years following revelations that Gabon was assisting the MDC-T to access funding from France in violation of Zimbabwean laws which prohibit external funding of political parties,” ZBC claims.

Talk about the kettle calling the pot black. Are we then to surmise that China is also “meddling” in Zimbabwe’s internal politics by supporting Zanu PF? Is it only OK if Zanu PF receives assistance?

Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa appears to be confused about the nation’s defence policy. He claims it is premised on “the need to counter the illegal regime change agenda sponsored by some Western countries”. That may be Zanu PF’s mantra but it is not shared by the rest of the country.

Speaking to officers attending a staff course at the Zimbabwe Staff College, Mnangagwa said: “With the emergence of the regime change agenda around the year 2000, the defence policy had to be tailored towards countering influences that were being spread by the Western media through such devices as the Internet, CNN, BBC, and Sky News.”

So defence policy is tailored by Zanu PF’s electoral defeats in 2000? Why should the rest of the country share their paranoid delusionism? What is “illegal” about wanting to see regime change in Zimbabwe? Isn’t that the desire of the majority of the population who voted against President Mugabe in 2008? Did they not vote for change?

Given Zanu PF’s electoral record, can the BBC and CNN be expected to pretend all is well in Zimbabwe? Zanu PF already has a mouthpiece for its pernicious propaganda. Why should other broadcasters be expected to mislead the Zimbabwean public as well?

The country’s defence policy derived its legal basis from the constitution, the minister conceded. “The constitutional obligations of the ZDF are threefold,” he said. “That is to defend Zimbabwe’s independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and national interests…”

We would go along with most of that. But the national interest is not defined by a defeated former ruling party. It is not in the national interest to sabotage commercial agriculture or close down a once great city such as Bulawayo.

Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe’s defence policy respected regional and international treaties and conventions that the country was party to. Does it? What about the torture that Jestina Mukoko endured in 2008? What about the beatings MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, Sekai Holland and others went through at Machipisa police station in 2007?

The minister said the violent removal of sitting presidents in some North African countries showed the need to come up with defence policies that safeguard a nation’s sovereignty. Indeed, we must learn the lesson of leaders who refuse to change when the people demand it!

Muckraker was intrigued by a picture purporting to be that of Prof Geoff Feltoe in Tafataona Mahoso’s African Focus column in the Sunday Mail of January 22. This was in connection with Zanu PF’s current campaign to portray Copac’s endeavours as an alien project.

“”The most spectacular achievement of the UZ Faculty of Law to date,” Mahoso claims, “has been the entrenchment of Prof Geoff Feltoe as Zimbabwe’s philosopher king on legal matters… and it is the students and associates of the same Geoff Feltoe who have guided Copac’s calculated abandonment of the people’s views in the drafting of a new constitution,” he says.

Beware of anybody seeking to be a purveyor of the “people’s views”. It is usually their own views that are being dished out. Mahoso goes on to condemn what he calls “the degrading of national laws and national constitutions and the elevation of allegedly universal norms”.

These ideas had been propagated through Anglo-American seminars for the legal fraternity over a 10-year period, Mahoso claims. The British and North Americans set the agendas for these meetings and forged the terminology which sets the tone for the seminars, Mahoso declares.

These in turn set the stage for Copac and regime-change. Behind all this is the eminence grise of Prof Feltoe, we are led to believe. In fact of course the universal norms Mahoso denounces are the norms most countries embrace now, except of course, as he points out, Vietnam, Iraq and Venezuela!

He says at the end of a law seminar in Harare in 1989 “it was clear that the Anglo-American objective was literally to re-educate the judiciaries of the entire Commonwealth in order to make them receptive to manipulative projects such as the Tibaijuka mission and other missions by the International Bar Association.”

It is worth having this on the record to expose just how delusional Zanu PF’s publicists really are. To underline Mahoso’s claims, the Sunday Mail published a photo of somebody who it said was Feltoe but obviously wasn’t. It didn’t even look like him. Clearly the real world isn’t allowed to impinge upon Zanu PF’s delusionalism.

Those naïve commentators telling us there has been a change of heart by the Americans on sanctions should read the remarks by Ambassador Charles Ray last week. There had not been tangible evidence or positive political movement in Zimbabwe to warrant a repeal of the sanctions law, he said.

“I need to take this opportunity to say the ingredients that inspired the enactment of Zidera are still very much alive,” Ray said. “One would ask whether the violence, rhetoric and political persecutions and arbitrary arrests are not still part of this country’s political landscape…”

“So until there is positive movement like mechanisms for free and fair elections when political persecution ceases, Zidera is going nowhere.” Ray said he did not think sanctions was a useful tool to deal with because there have been cases where they have been abused by local politicians who have taken advantage by blaming sanctions for every ill that has visited the country.

“Someone fails to do their job they blame sanctions,” Ray said. “No rain, they blame sanctions which I think is sad really.” So do we.

Muckraker was shocked by the reported arrest of Victoria Falls book-seller Sinikiwe Matore who had been marketing Morgan Tsvangirai’s biography, At the Deep End, among other publications. We were unaware that it was illegal to read the book. What has the country come to when books are banned?

In Germany the Nazis collected works by Jewish authors and set them alight in a huge bonfire. With some prescience the poet Heine remarked that societies that burn books will very soon burn people!

Finally a note to the Herald’s business reporters. Prince Felipe is not “the Spanish monarch”, he is Prince of the Asturias, son of the monarch. Later in the story he became “a member of the Spanish monarchy”.

Let’s hope that by the time he gets here the newspaper will have clarified his status. Perhaps Minister Walter Mzembi can explain to the ever-helpful Herald exactly who the prince is! Zimbabwe Independent