via Herald’s Sermon from Hell – A case for serious soul searching in Zimbabwe January 9, 2014 by Farai Mbira
On January 7, 2014 The Herald put up a very interesting heading on its editorial which caught my attention. After reading, I felt like I had been listening to a sermon in hell – The Herald of all media preaching about national interest and lamenting that “the inability to separate national interest from narrow party interest has become deeply ingrained in the psyches of many”.
Reflecting on how The Herald has handled matters of national interests leaves one with the conclusion that to its editors, national interests simply mean Zanu PF interests. I know they will scream out loud to deny this but I challenge them to prove their new-found wisdom by providing all political organisations and as well as ordinary citizens the same coverage they have reserved for Zanu PF and its leadership, especially its President. Before doing so they should not expect people to come down to hell and listen to their sermon. Just before the elections The Herald and ZBC refused to provide the opposition any neutral, let alone professional, coverage. They charged prohibitive fees to cover opposition rallies and yet provided acres of media space to Zanu PF primaries including live coverage to Zanu PF rallies for free. It is not surprising that they cannot even pay the lowest wages for their employees. Is that their definition for national interests?
The Herald further claims that “part of the problem of failing to separate common interests from individual preferences lies in the inability by the media, Government and civic society to properly define the national interest over the last 33 years”. It is so convenient for The Herald to appear progressive by blaming others for not focusing on national interest.
The truth of the matter is that Zanu PF and its government are the chief architects of this evil situation where national interests are equated to partisan interests. Recently Zanu PF, at its national congress, adopted a resolution, which among other planned evils, reaffirmed and declared that Zanu PF is supreme above government. The Zanu PF Minister for Information Publicity and Broadcasting, by this congress resolution, gets his orders from Zanu PF on how the media operates in Zimbabwe. Based on this resolution it is clear what national interests The Herald is talking about and should not take the nation for fools.
The Herald editorial sermon further claims that “what really matters is that we build a Zimbabwe that future generations can truly be proud of”. Again I challenge them to a simple test – do an independent survey to find out how many Zimbabweans are proud of The Herald’s performance. The Herald should admit that they indebted to Ian Smith for discovering the philosophy upon which they are still operating today. They did not even have the guts in 1980 to give it a new name other than painting out Rhodesia from the name. This is not surprising because that is what Zanu PF did on all national institutions – make cosmetic changes but retain everything – if not tightening them further.
The Herald’s deceptions and crocodile lamentations will not hide their purpose. The only way forward for The Herald is to respect the people and change. During the liberation war the same institutions – The Herald, ZBC, Army, Police and CIO hunted down freedom fighters and labelled them terrorists endangering national security and interests. Till today they are still hunting down freedom and pro-democracy fighters. What ZANU PF is doing to those fighting for democracy, human rights, freedom and justice is exactly what Smith did to freedom fighters and villagers who provided food and shelter. We have moved a full circle under this regime!
My response and challenge to The Herald and to the establishment, is that they should speak only when they are brave enough to confront injustice and are willing to change. At ZUNDE we will welcome such change of heart from any institution including The Herald, if it is genuine. ZUNDE is a strong advocate for an open and independent press that defines national interest beyond partisan interests. Until they do so, The Herald, ZBC, Army, Police and CIO, will remain part and parcel as well as conspirators in this dictatorship that is ruining our nation. It’s never too late to change.
In October 1992 De Klerk, in the then conservative white town of Winburg, apologised for the 42 years of apartheid domination of South Africa saying ”For too long we clung to a dream of separated nation-states, when it was already clear that it could not succeed sufficiently … For that we are sorry.” This system was upheld by the judiciary, media, the army, the police, intelligence services and the partisan civil service. It is not farfetched to consider that those people upholding the evil Zanu PF dictatorship are equally guilty of the crimes against humanity and they must surely do much more than De Klerk.
On 5 September 2013 the judiciary represented by the Justice Magistrates Association, in Chile, where 28,000 people were tortured, and 2,279 were executed, apologised to the nation for all the injustices they administered to innocent civilians, during Augusto Pinochet rule – who was undoubtedly the President, Head of State and Government and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces (sounds familiar?). These poor victims were accused of endangering national security and interests by the dictatorship but the Justice Magistrates Association noted that “the judicial power, especially the Supreme Court, in that time, folded on its fundamental task of defending fundamental rights and protecting the ones who have been victims of state abuse”, and further charged that “the judicial power could and should have done much more, especially as it was the only institution that was not operated by the government”. The Justice Magistrates Association asked the Supreme Court to “undertake the necessary critical reflection about its own past acts and omissions.”
We definitely need deep soul searching in Zimbabwe by everyone and notably the judiciary, ZBC, The Herald, the army, the police, the CIO and some individuals, some of whom can’t even explain how they have become so rich in such a poor state, and how, suddenly, diamonds have run out in Marange when there is no single project as evidence of the wealth.
At ZUNDE we are working very hard to exorcize Zimbabwe of the Zanu PF demon that has destroyed our livelihoods, our culture of tolerance, and has taken away the future of our young generations. So tell your friends about ZUNDE and its noble cause and all generations will appreciate your stance against evil. Why spent your energies on something you or your family will one day be ashamed of and have to apologise for?
Farai Mbira is the President of Zimbabweans United for Democracy, www.zunde.org and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.