Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Of govt’s lousy self-projection and failure to market local produce

By Kenneth Mufuka

While I was away in the US, my beloved mother, a matriarch of the Rain bird clan, passed away. Because of the Covid-19 pandemic I was prevented from attending to her last rites.

Ken Mufuka
Ken Mufuka

Only in the last three weeks were travel restrictions lifted and I was able to travel.

I had desired to be left alone to attend to my tribal obligations, express my grief and be comforted by loved ones.

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As soon as my brothers in the journalistic fraternity knew I was around, I could not escape the message of alarm. Even of panic. Here is one message.

In her interview, Sister Virginia Mabhiza explained the reasoning behind the Patriotic Bill (2). “Stiff penalties will be imposed” on the unpatriotic journalists found guilty of discrediting their country. The theme is repeated in another briefing by Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa.

People, who are not historians forget that there is nothing new under the sun. When I was cutting my teeth as a writer under Willie Musarurwa of The Sunday Mail, we were instructed, to devote at least one out of 10 articles to development issues. That left a lot of room for mischief without losing sight of our prize, our love of Zimbabwe.

I am surprised to discover attorney Mabhiza has forgotten that professors described “patriotism as a refugee of scoundrels”. It is comforting to know that the word “scoundrel” is usually in the male gender.

The two sisters are, however, addressing very serious issues. The allegations are that journalists have been brainwashed by imperialists to believe that what is not European is not good enough. They are, therefore, incapable of giving credit to a black government unless and until that outfit is dressed up in European clothes.

In short, unless they see a “little England” in Africa, they are never satisfied.

Zimbabwe government’s case

Eddie Cross started the debate by arguing that a lot of progress has been made in the last three years of ED Mnangagwa’s government. The government is lousy at self-projection. The return of white former farmers to their previous areas of work, with 1 200 already in situ, is one of these stories, which has been under-sold.

I asked Chris Mutsvangwa to elaborate on this. Chris and I belong to a unique fraternity of lexicographers (people who study the meaning of words). There are only four lexicographers in Zimbabwe. The letter of rebellion by War Veterans of July 7, 2017 against the tyrant Robert Mugabe was written by a lexicographer. Chris and I have kept our secret as to the writer of that momentous document.

If Chris is correct, and the information was confirmed by another source in the know, the agricultural revolution already underway may yet witness another game-changer.

Before there was Zimbabwe (1980), there was a family of great white farmers belonging to the Nicolle family. They were so masterly and blessed in whatever they undertook that they produced 10% of Zimbabwe’s corn (maize) and perhaps a similar percentage of wheat.

Their vast wealth and the special treatment they received from government and banks irked the pseudo-Marxist government of Robert Mugabe. Despite the advice of Tanzania’s Muhammad Babu not to eviscerate the work of such exemplary farmers, Mugabe drove the three Nicolle brothers into exile.

The Banket Railway siding stands derelict and so do the huge silos earmarked by the Grain marketing Board for their use. Chris says he has “been speaking to Philip Nicolle and that we travelled to the Davos Conference together.”

By migrating to Zambia, the Nicolle brothers have made Zimbabwe a laughing stock in the Sadc region. Many of their workers crossed the border with them. They have been selling corn at US$240 per tonne compared to US$470 in Zimbabwe.

Despite everything done to them, the Nicolles miss the only place on earth they have called home. They maintain a commodity company that pays higher prices for tobacco and corn.

The Zimbabwe government is trying to shut this outfit because it pays better than government-controlled agencies and treats customers like humans.

This is typical Zimbabwe modus operandi; on one hand, they want white farmers to return; on the other hand, they are perturbed if they are successful.

Eastern Highlands tourists

Statistics show that Victoria Falls and Great Zimbabwe usually command a bed-night average above 60% even in slow times. Mountain tourism in the Western Highlands usually came third.

The recovery of the Eastern Highlands as a tourist destination has been under-reported. The Manica Mountains, Vumba, Nyanga and Nyan’gombe Falls and mountain streams attract a special breed of visitors, largely idiosyncratic earth people who want to reconnect with nature.

I checked with 20 lodges and hotels. Almost all of them were full during the weekend of May 7-9.

Basil Nyabadza

As I sat down in Basil Nyabadza’s office, I was served with tea sprinkled with some “muti”. The muti, I was later told, consists of ginger, garlic and some powerful ingredient, which keeps Covid-19 at bay.

Basil owns the Half Way House at Headlands, a once flourishing centre for an inter-state 18-wheeler driver. Basil and I share a common belief that rather than spend one’s life complaining, look where you are and do some good.

As past chairperson of the Agricultural Rural Development Agency (ARDA), his vision lies in two distinct areas. Zimbabwe is an agricultural country and land is free for those who want to use it.

The colonialists understood this paradigm very well. All their great leaders were farmers. Basil is hopeful that the message has reached young people, provoking the urban-rural migration.

Surely, a 30-year-old young man with 30 goats, 20 head of cattle, and a half acre of fruits and vegetables can command some esteem. The alternative is to stand by Harare City streets looking for employment.

The success of Pfumvudza (the Shona farming revolution) proves his point. Pfumvudza is a Shona chibhakera organic farming. The research has been around for 30 years and can be found in the Grade 5 Social Science textbook.

Basil argues that if the Hotel Association can be persuaded to adopt a Zimbabwe breakfast with sweet potatoes, pineapples and other locally grown fruits and advertise it in the same way Texas breakfast is advertised, we will be creating new wealth.

The fault is not with journalists — the fault lies squarely in the inability of government to sell itself. The Standard