Harare: From Sunshine City to a wasteland – The MuckRaker

via Harare: From Sunshine City to a wasteland – The Zimbabwe Independent November 1, 2013  The MuckRaker

We were intrigued by Oliver Chidawu’s claim that “Harare has improved since my days as mayor in the early 1980s”.

He was speaking at a meeting of former mayors to meet the new incumbent, Bernard Manyenyeni and assist him in his duties.

Five former mayors were present. They included the city’s first black mayor, Tizirayi Gwata, Chidawu, Jabulani Thembani, Elias Mudzuri and Muchadeyi Masunda.

The claim that there has been an improvement in Harare’s condition since the early 1980s will elicit a wry chuckle from many readers who have observed the steady deterioration in the city’s fortunes since 1980. The Sunshine City was transformed into a wasteland by some of the incumbents over the years.

The mayoress’ chain
And does anybody remember the disappearing chain and regalia of one mayoress which were never recovered?

“We will assist you in any way possible with our experience,” Thembani told Manyenyeni.

That could be a rather worrying statement!

Everybody spies
Angela Merkel has sent two German spy chiefs to Washington, we are told. The Germans want assurances that spying by the Americans will stop.

We can’t imagine any country admitting it was spying in the first place. But as just about every observer has pointed out, everybody spies on everybody else in Europe and the US. And most espionage nowadays is aimed at economic and business targets, not Cold War fights.

Merkel makes an easy target because she is never off her mobile and doesn’t bother to encrypt her calls. So the signal is frequent, loud and clear.

What she needs is the operation all journalists must have: to remove the phone from the ear!

Which is which?
Muckraker would welcome clarification on the following matter. Is the Information ministry called the Information, Media and Broadcasting Services ministry, or the Media, Information and Broadcasting Services ministry?

Nobody seems to know and it changes several times a day in the press! Muckraker’s guess is that Webster Shamu preferred “Media” first and Jonathan Moyo prefers “Information” first. Is there any significance in this?

Mahoso’s praise
Zimbabwe Media Commission CEO Tafataona Mahoso wrote last week in praise of Singapore and its educational system. It is not difficult to find merit in Singapore and its former prime minister (not president) Lee Kuan Yew who modernised this once backward island state and handed it on to a new generation in fine condition. It is now a base for trade, banking and manufacturing in the Far East.

Mahoso wants to diminish the use of English in exams. But English in Singapore has provided the glue that binds Malays and Chinese. Indeed, Singaporeans celebrate their colonial founder Sir Stamford Raffles and his statue presides over the city centre. Singapore Airlines, one of the most highly regarded airlines in the world, symbolises the country’s development.

Singapore is a tourist magnet. In fact, it is everything Zimbabwe is not. It has pulled itself up by its bootstraps and prospered.

Next a correction. Last week we referred to Mamphela Ramphele’s party in South Africa as Agape. That should be Agang. Sorry for that.
Black sheep

We hear Kwekwe mayor Matenda Madzoke turned down a US$68 000 vehicle offer. NewsDay reported this week that the local authority wanted to purchase a brand new mayoral 4×4 Isuzu D-Tec for him, but he instead instructed council to use the US$38 000 which had already been paid for the vehicle to acquire a refuse removal tractor or truck.

Looks like we have a black sheep in the family here? While corruption and looting is the norm in local authorities, it is absolutely surprising to have one going against the grain.

Thumbs up to Madzoke for showing your Zanu PF colleagues what service delivery is all about. Madzoke recently said he wants to make peace with Kwekwe residents and pledged to bring transparency and accountability in the dealings of the local authority while weeding out corruption and he has turned out to be keen on keeping his word. We challenge the others to follow suit.

Jabu at it again
Matabeleland South Zanu PF deputy spokesperson, Jabulani Phetshu Sibanda, is at it again. Sibanda postulates that “Zimbabwe would collapse if any other party came to power. Zanu PF wants to rule forever. It is the only party that liberated Zimbabwe …”.

If the looting, corruption, rampant mismanagement in state-run enterprises are any indicators to go by, then the concept of liberation has completely escaped Sibanda. Lest the comrade forgets, Ian Smith said: “Not in a thousand years to black majority rule.” Or was this before your time as was the liberation struggle. Nobody has a mandate — God-given or man-endowed — to rule forever.

Opening up airwaves
GOVERNMENT will do away with pirate radio stations through opening up airwaves, a situation that would render them redundant, according to Information deputy minister Supa Mandiwanzira.

According to the Herald the deputy minister told Senate that people were made to listen to pirate radio stations because of the failure by Transmedia to provide legitimate radio and television broadcasting content throughout the country.

We thought it had to do with a surfeit of propaganda on ZBC, thinly veiled as news, the repeated screening of programmes that should be in a museum somewhere, the dearth of an alternative voice and the fact that the broadcaster was a de facto mouthpiece for the ruling Zanu PF party. All this for an annual fee of US$20 for radio and US$50 for TV for domestic users.

Apparently not, according to Supa.
Responding to a question from Mashonaland Central Senator Alice Chimbudzi on what government was doing to deal with private radio stations, he said: “The ministry considers these pirate radio stations as a nuisance that we must get rid of. In the majority of cases, the Zimbabweans who listen to these pirate radio stations do so out of desperation because they are unable to get a signal from the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation in the area they stay. So they have no choice and end up, by default, listening to these pirate radio stations.”

This explanation is rather disingenous. Why then did Zanu PF ban shortwave radio receivers, accusing them of pushing the regime change agenda? And why, after 33 years of independence, do we only have a single state-owned TV station? Mandiwanzira also said his ministry had a fresh impetus to roll out transmitters through Transmedia across the country to enable everyone to get a signal from ZBC radio and television and other legitimate broadcasting institutions. The roll-out would be achieved through digitalisation of Transmedia from analogue, a project that he said required US$30 million to cover the whole country.

Supa sees the light
No one should hold their breath as the immediate challenge is the parlous state of ZBC where staff are going for months without pay and the antiquated equipment is causing all sorts of deeply embarrassing gaffes, including sudden transmission breakdowns, strange noises and weird shapes appearing on the screen even during the error-strewn transmission of the main news bulletin.

But we are happy that Supa appears to have seen the light despite his clumsy pretensions at denial.

Professionalism out
WE expected the state media to go into overdrive over President Jacob Zuma’s comments that Africans should not “think like Africans in Africa generally, we’re in Johannesburg”.

And we were not disappointed.

On Monday night’s Mediawatch programme on ZBC-TV, presenter Justin Mahlahla interviewed Zanu PF appendage Tafataona Mahoso and the questions left no one in any doubt what Mahoso’s response would be.
Asked Mahlahla: “Who should tell President Zuma to zip his mouth?” seemingly frothing at the mouth himself. This demonstrates that professionalism at Pockets Hill has well and truly gone to the dogs!


  • comment-avatar
    Revenger-avenger 10 years ago

    Every day I am reminded what a famous man said. “the world is full of fools “

  • comment-avatar
    BossMyass 10 years ago

    In Zimbabwe, it has created a persuasive and repetitive myth that only one man can be President for life; that only Zanu PF members can have access to new opportunities and lead a better life than most; that only those who are politically connected through birth, association or sheer audacity must have an advantage and be entitled unbridled access to the wealth of Zimbabwe. That only our “freedom” fighters can be heroes.
    It will not be easy to change our circumstances or move our country into a modern democracy because we have been psychologically complicit in creating a social system that does not respect our own needs and aspirations. Our tyranny is manufactured by the people of Zimbabwe, for the people of Zimbabwe — that is the hardest fact to accept. You see, dictatorships can only arise and flourish where very specific conditions are met. Critical to an effective dictatorship are people with a low self-esteem and who have a victim mentality. People who believe it is outside them that change can emanate. In such instances, the political leadership must also meet these same conditions; they must have a destructive and incessant low self-esteem and must, therefore, put to good use all tools and forms of oppression to shield their egos and vulnerability.They must continually claim all that is good in society, and blame all that is bad on others. This works in arresting potential, stifling growth, spreading poverty and hopelessness so that citizens may remain complainants to a system that they abhor. Dictators mirror their low self-esteem on the society which they seek to oppress and in that society, must be those individuals who are willing to support that low self-esteem with theirs. A dictator must surround himself with praise singers and charlatans whose only interest is to see how they can benefit from the dictator. The dictator will then reward those who praise and fear him and incarcerate or injure those who refuse to do so.

  • comment-avatar
    Hisexcellency 10 years ago

    I am sick and tired of water, power crisis. Before dollarisation, the excuse by these entities was lack of foreign currency. Now we have the US dollars and South African rands in circulation since 2009, so what is the problem now? Can someone please tell us exactly what is going on? We survive without traffic lights. Zanu Pf is in power for more than 30 years and never developed any infrastructure in Zimbabwe. The pavement is often broken, uneven, even potholed, Enough is enough. Relatives and friends would joke and laugh at me telling me that nothing of that sort would happen to Zimbabwe because they were a learned crop of people that wouldn’t allow standards to fall. But Zimbabwe, or to be precise Harare, is no longer the same story. From the brightly lit streets, our capital city has become so dark because of constant power cuts. This may sound like a fable, but rape cases did happen in the dark alleys of the CBD. This is the city that has always been led by learned people who have allowed filth, street kids, vendors and many other ills to prevail. Walking around the town after dark should be avoided. If you leave your hotel to visit restaurants, take a taxi. Also, it is illegal to walk on the sidewalks around the President’s palace after 6 p.m. If you do so, you will be on the wrong end of a large gun and threatened with a large fine and/or imprisonment by the guards. If this happens, keep calm. You will probably have to pay a massive bribe. But Harare City Council and power utility Zesa continue to send estimated bills for power, water and rates, for a service that is either erratic or non-existent. Residents have been taken for granted for too long and it is high time something was done to alleviate their suffering. I have never been told why there is no electricity. There could be a fault. If it’s about payment — Zesa owes us millions. In the past, the entities have fought over electricity bills with council arguing that Zesa was charging them for non working street lights. Each of the street lights in the city is billed. Harare continues to experience many security challenges. Road safety remains the greatest general daily threat to the average visitor. The Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe reports that there are approximately 20,000 reported vehicle accidents in Zimbabwe a year. In major cities like Harare, reports indicate that there are 45-50 vehicle accidents per day. There has been a marked deterioration of road infrastructure, with increases in large potholes, to decreases in operable traffic signals and street lighting. Travel at night outside of main cities is not advisable due to poor or non-existent lighting. Unsafe road conditions result in increased chances of accidents involving pedestrians, broken down vehicles, animals, and other vehicles.

    The condition of roads and traffic control devices continue to deteriorate, and repairs are taking longer, if they are made at all. These factors, along with the increased presence of improperly maintained vehicles, poor road quality and street lighting, and corrupt/ineffective traffic enforcement create an environment highly conducive to traffic accidents. Drivers should exercise extreme caution and drive defensively at all times, particularly during hours of darkness. Increased levels of corruption by traffic police at various road checkpoints, coupled with public acceptance of this corruption, and has also created a situation where unlicensed drivers and overloaded or damaged vehicles are commonplace on the road. It is estimated that close to half of drivers have ‘bought’ licences from the black market. Moreover, coercion and bribery are common by motorists to avoid receiving traffic violation penalties. Police will also elicit bribes, or “spot fines,” from motorists for arbitrary traffic violations. While the presence of goods and services has increased over the past year, the cost of these goods and services is still far beyond the means of the majority of the population. This continues to drive criminal activity throughout the country and in the low-density areas. Average street criminals normally operate in teams of two and in the central business district of downtown Harare. While police statistics are not entirely accurate, the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) reported a 40 percent increase in robberies in 2012. Home invasions are on the rise in Harare. While night time burglaries remain the norm, there are frequent reports of daytime attempts, probing, and actual burglaries. Of particular concern is the ability of some criminals to bypass residential security features, such as perimeter walls, guards, and alarm systems.