Moyo, aren’t you ashamed to continue this?

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STEPHEN Sackur came to town last week to interview Information minister Jonathan Moyo. Stephen who?
Stephen Sackur is the razor-sharp, highly-knowledgeable, unrelenting but cultured presenter of the hard-hitting BBC half-hour interview programme HARDtALK .

One sure thing for sure about Sackur, is that wherever he goes, he squeezes out some unpleasant but necessary answers with his no-holds-barred style.

The beauty of HARDtALK is that there is no break for the interviewee to recollect their thoughts and restrategise. It’s non-stop firing of in-depth, incisive questions, not pedestrian, tame, maddening and deadening questions such as we have from the likes of ZBC’s Reuben Barwe and Judith Makwanya.

The last thing one can expect from Sackur is political correctness and reverence. And, of course, the British government does not have an iron grip on BBC as is the sad, pathetic case here.

The tragic result of this grip has been that all journalists — yes, ALL — in the public media wouldn’t even think of asking a difficult question because they would be instantly fired. It’s most worrying that the role of journalists to hold politicians to account has been thrown away, particularly in a country where corruption is rife, where political opponents can disappear without trace, where “changing the rules of the game as you go” is quickly becoming the government’s only firm policy.

You can fire as many journalists as you can from the public media, but there will still be news, and that news will be just as bad for you if you don’t change your dirty politics and ruinous economics, if I may paraphrase Spanish journalist Miguel-Anxo Murado. Having “faithful reporters” to suppress or distort the facts will not turn it into good news.

The reality of the disastrous policies is there for all to see, the latest being the vending nightmare in Harare. It didn’t take long for Sackur to notice from the streets of Harare that something was gravely wrong despite Moyo accusing Sackur of rushing to judge after being less than 24 hours in the country.

In fact, Sackur didn’t have to come here, as Moyo imputed, to get to know what’s wrong in Zimbabwe in this real-time world.

Such chaos anywhere in the world is instantly noticeable as symptomatic of decay and is not defensible and explainable when there is supposed to be a functional government — of which Moyo is part — in place. The regime has managed to make main opposition MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai look brilliant, which is saying something.

Famed Zimbabwean Dean du Plessis was born blind but makes a living by “watching” cricket. He commentates on matches by listening to the speed and spin of the ball, as well as players’ reactions, keeping track of the score by memory while some people who can see have failed to make head or tail of cricket try as they may. Reading a situation does not necessarily entail you being here. With a closed or daft mind, you can misread a situation even if you are on the ground.

Jonathan-Moyo-HardTalk

On HARDtALK, Moyo was very much outside the comfort zone he has created for himself and enjoys in the State media where he is virtually both interviewer and interviewee through control of the system and process. After all, he is the architect of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, making him the judge, jury and executioner over media issues.

Despite Moyo’s bravado, the political reality is complicated by a highly toxic political climate in Zanu PF where rivals are terribly and horribly competitive, and the savagery is intensifying as President Robert Mugabe crosses into lame-duck territory — that stage where an elected leader whose time in office will soon end with people now looking beyond his era — because at 91 years, the inevitable end is nigh. This gets worse where there is no clear succession path as in Zimbabwe where Mugabe has kept everything to his chest.

But one cannot fault Moyo for stating the simple fact at law that the Vice-President’s primary role is not to succeed the President, but to serve under the President. The way Moyo stated the obvious was most illuminating especially in these emotion-charged times. The condemnation of him from within Zanu PF for pointing out that in reply to Sackur shows the extent of bad blood and blindness in the ruling party.

Zanu PF — and, by extension, Zimbabwe — is, for all with eyes to see, in such an interregnum, a paralysing one. An interregnum is a period between successive regimes when the highest office in the land virtually becomes vacant, resulting in normal functions of government and control being suspended and/or neglected.

Endless costly foreign trips, potholed roads, industrial collapse, vending chaos, administrative paralysis, non-inclination to realign laws with the Constitution, and all manner of corruption — including the plunder of diamonds at Chiadzwa — tells of a dysfunctional government — which Sackur amply demonstrated; and the end game — which Sackur again raised.

It’s a fact that Harare is now a vending jungle mostly because last year First Lady Grace Mugabe, who has emerged as another centre of power in this interregnum, expressly ordered the police not to arrest illegal vendors. It’s also a fact that Zanu PF, in this interregnum, is embroiled in vicious infighting to the exclusion and at the expense of good governance, which includes service delivery.

But Moyo could still afford to make blunt denials in the face of such clear truths raised by Sackur. Properly delivered, a blunt denial in the face of clear truths will utterly confuse an opponent, but not one of the high calibre of Sackur.

Asked about the disappearance of anti-government activist Itai Dzamara in March, Moyo said: “Well, we do not hold the American government accountable for the very worrying loss of black lives in the United States at the hands of the police.”

Sackur, who would have none of the excuse and Moyo’s glaring omission that six police officers— including three blacks — had been charged with the murder of a black civilian, Freddie Gray, in the city of Baltimore, shot back: “And the US authorities are held to account for that just as I am trying to hold you (Moyo and your government) to account.” Unlike US President Barack Obama and his administration, the people here are accountable to nobody and removable by nobody.

In an interview on HARDtALK after he defected from the regime of President Bashar al-Assad in 2012, former Syrian Prime Minister Riad Hejab said: “Assad refused to listen to me. He is completely convinced that the uprising (against the regime) must be crushed by any means necessary. I was too ashamed to continue as Prime Minister while the country was being destroyed.”

Moyo, are you not ashamed to continue lying on behalf of the regime while the country is being destroyed?
l ctutani@newsday.co.zw

13 COMMENTS

    • Think tank? Like Biti,the voluble incompetent..this pair would do well if they joined hands! He just has a choice with words but even knows that he has now run out of thing to say such that now he is just ‘a dope in diapers!’

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