The latest Zimbabwe news is, of course, all about the "firing" of Simba Makoni.
The story of the "firing" of Simba Makoni has been predictably lapped up by the Herald (which put it on its front page) and other websites that have a personal hatred of the man and who published the statement from Major Mbudzi without seeking a response from Makoni.
Claims that Makoni was unreachable are laughable. The media, who followed him throughout his campaign, all have his email address and his cellphone numbers. They can get through to him via this blog, by emailing me, and they also have other addresses, including Makoni's well-publicised campaign email address.
In any case, almost everyone I speak to in Zimbabwe now says that the internet "lies all the time", so these online newspapers (some not all), have lost ALL credibility except within a small group of 500 or so readers in the diaspora who do not look for news but simply for the comfort that they get from lies as long as those lies confirm their own prejudices.
It is tragic because this is a powerful media for spreading the truth and when online channels peddle patent falsehoods in the sure knowledge that few people will question them, then they are simply engaging in navel-gazing and not speaking to the world. But the bottom line is that most online journals have ZERO credibility with the masses in Zimbabwe, most of whom have no access to the internet anyway and anyone trying to argue about "mass opinion" with the Zimbabwean masses is best advised to steer clear of referencing most online media.
"Internet inonyeba, yakazara maDiaspora asingazive kuti chii chiri kuitika kuno," is a refrain I got as late as last night as I spoke to someone about the GNU. To translate for my non-Shona readers, the sentence above would be,"The internet lies, it is full of people in the Diaspora who are out of touch with what is happening over here."
And, this is true to some extent, because most online "media" peddle lies as truth or fact.
This is why, if you browsed the internet before Tsvangirai accepted to go into government, you would think that the whole MDC and the "people" were against the GNU. Yet when Tsvangirai went in without resolving Home Affairs, with Mukoko still in jail (her bail application was thrown out just yesterday), these loudmouths (there are only twenty of them, who use different pseudonyms at various times to give the impression that there are many of them) suddenly went quiet.
As you can see from the comments on this blog, most people see this so-called firing of Simba Makoni for what it really is: a reaction by a group of people who thought that they could, because they were independent parliamentary candidates "aligned" to Makoni in March 2008, make claims for cars, fuel and money from Simba Makoni under the pretext of "organising" their areas for a new party.
I understand that Makoni repeatedly and, in my opinion, rightly, questioned this. Take the demand for cars, for instance. These were supposed to be disbursed to all four corners of Zimbabwe as per the demands of some people. Makoni, I understand, asked into whose custody the vehicles, money and fuel would be released and in what capacity since there was not even a single branch or provincial executive in place.
Yes, that is right: there were no offices for a party, there were not even Provincial Executive Committees in place. The response apparently was that these cars would be handed to "Provincial Coordinators" in their personal capacities so that they could "mobilise". Clearly, Makoni and his fellow leaders were reluctant to simply release money, vehicles and fuel to individuals.
The only exception were the characteristically well-organised people of Matabeleland, who stand head and shoulders above most other Zimbabweans in their organisational prowess and decisiveness. THEY WERE THE ONLY PROVINCE (BULAWAYO) WHO RECIEVED A VEHICLE TO ORGANISE THEMSELVES. This was because they had already established offices in Bulawayo, a functioning executive that met and planned regularly and with precision. They'd also started going into the rural areas of Matabeleland to set up structures without waiting for cars and fuel from Makoni's office in Harare.
I understand that Makoni and his team at Head Office demanded that structures be put in place first by the other provinces, after which resources would then be given to these structures as legally constituted bodies for them to be able to do the work of the new party. This was rejected because it apparently killed the purpose of the demands, which was to get "resources" into individual hands, without even a workplan.
Several attempts were made by the National Executive Committee of Makoni's organisation to right this glaring wrong. First, they asked that each Provincial Coordinator submit a workplan for their area, stating what they intended to do and what this plan would cost and also what checks and balances would be put in place to ensure that the work was done and done in accordance with an auditable schedule.
This never happened.
I also understand Makoni and his team then proposed another solution: A national team like the one that accompanied Makoni on his six-week road-trip campaign across Zimbabwe would be dispatched to each province to set up Provincial Executives in direct elections by all supporters of Makoni who turned up for such meetings in these provinces. The aim was to have Provincial leaderships that had been elected by the people (hence would have a mandate from the people).
The reasoning, I am reliably told, was that some of the people calling themselves Provincial coordinators had not been elected into those posts but had nominated themselves when Makoni announced his candidacy. There were nagging questions being asked, I hear, which were: "Do these people have the support of the people in their provinces. And how could Makoni and his team verify that these were leaders chosen by their people? If they had won in the parliamentary elections, no problem, that would have shown that they had the support of their constituencies. Even if they had not won, if they had managed to gather substantial numbers, you would know there was a base from which to start.
This was also rejected.
By now, Makoni and his people were unsure whether any of these "leaders" actually intended doing anything with the resources they were demanding in light of their refusal to entertain any other alternatives to make the process accountable.
To understand the ridiculousness of this recent "firing", you need to understand the following:
When Makoni decided to run for president, friends of his, Zimbabweans inside and outside Zimbabwe, set up a Trust for his bid. Makoni is not a Trustee of this Trust and does not have signing powers for the accounts (which are all local). This Trust, whose specific purpose as stated in its Deeds is to "further the political ambitions of Simba Makoni" has three Trustees or Board Members, all prominent Zimbabeans: Lawyers (Advocates, actually), businessmen and even a Zimbabwean working for a multi-national finance company and based in Europe.
The resources sourced for this trust were sourced by supporters of Makoni for, as already stated, "furthering his political ambitions".
People around Makoni, including former independent candidates for parliament, sourced their own resources for their own campaigns. These were never handed over to Simba Makoni's Trust, ever. They were used by the candidates as they saw fit. Makoni never asked about these independently-sourced resources for parliamentary candidates.
This was because he understood, as did all other candidates, that there was no connection between Makoni's Trust, which locked up resources for his presidential bid, and their own resources which were theirs and theirs alone for their own individual campaigns.
When the election ended, the common bond that existed between this group and Makoni effectively ended.
At this point, calls for the "swift" formation of a party suddenly emerged, with only some of the independent parliamentary candidates asking for cars and money immediately from Makoni so that they could start organising a party in "their provinces".
I have explained above what I know of the subsequent events as the "independent parliamentary candidates" sought to make a claim on Makoni's Trust, set up specifically for the purpose of "furthering his political ambitions."
It is not clear, then, from what these people have expelled Makoni. From his own Trust? From the loose affiliation of independent candidates who sought to get elected into parliament?
As is clearly evident, there is no actual substance to these claims. But that is not the point. The point is simply to smear. It boils down to: if you won't hand over money and cars to us, we will destroy your reputation and make sure that you never become president.
It is also suicide by these players who have announced the "action", but they really do not care because none of them ever hopes to be president, none of them has any vision for a democratic Zimbabwe. The simple essence of the matter is to destroy Makoni's presidential ambitions because their own motives have been frustrated.
That, to me, appears to be the real story. But some online newspapers (together with The Herald) also see in this their own chance to simply smear without affording Makoni a chance to speak.
Not that he would want to speak anyway. I have known him to be supremely indifferent to newspaper opinions. He is even more contemptous of online newspapers and prefers to deal with the radio stations that beam stories into the rural areas, one of whom, Radio VOP, he spoke to today (at length) by phone. He also moves around amongst the people themselves, repeatedly asking his team not to ask Journalists along because he prefers going INTO people's homes and huts and he believes that if cameras followed him, this would invade the privacy of his audience and they would also not speak freely to him.
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