Mugabe Backs His Generals On Foreign-Based Radio Stations

Few people noticed the subtler, political side of Mugabe's trip to Switzerland, where, yesterday, he echoed the words of his Generals who now consider foreign-based Zimbabwean journalists at war with their country.

Harare, Zimbabwe, 09 October 2009

Robert "The Solution" Mugabe is in Switzerland for an International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Conference.

Speaking at the event yesterday, he backed his army Generals' recent statements that foreign-based radio stations beaming into Zimbabwe were waging war on the country.

"We reject the philosophy that seeks to weaponise ICTs by turning them into platforms for aggression."

It could not be clearer what he was saying or what he meant by this. Mugabe specifically said foreign countries' "broadcasting systems are being targeted at my country" in their quest for what he called their "obnoxious regime change agenda."

The only broadcast medium specifically targeted for a Zimbabwean audience and coming from outside our borders is radio.

We have no foreign-based television station "targeting" its "broadcasting system" at Zimbabwe.

So, having cleared that up, we are left in doubt that, yesterday, Robert Mugabe stated essentially the same position as his Army Commander, General Sibanda, who said that the foreign-based radio stations were waging "asymmetrical warfare" on Zimbabwe. The journalists doing this, by implication, are committing high treason.

So now we know that this is not the view of a handful of "hardliners" who refuse to salute the Prime Minister. The attitude goes all the way up to the highest and powerful office in the land.

It means Tafataona Mahoso, the "Media Hangman" stays at the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe, which he now chairs after Mugabe unilaterally appointed him.

It also means there is little or no chance of the opening of the airwaves to allow these exiled journalists to come back and work from within our borders.

It is significant that Mugabe did not directly accuse these foreign countries of "beaming" their messages into Zimbabwe. Instead, he says it is their broadcasting systems that are being used to do this. By Zimbabweans.

There is another angle to all this and one that is pure politics on Mugabe's part: Although he took away responsibility for TelOne and PORTRAZ away from Nelson Chamisa, he still took the Minister with him on this trip.

Chamisa was on the front page of The Herald today greeting Mugabe on his arrival at the conference and beaming from ear to ear. Mugabe subsequently delivered remarks during his speech praising Chamisa and saying "he dresses UCT, sleeps ICT and walks ICT, he really is ICT through and through."

As he says this, barely three weeks ago, Nicholas Goche of ZANU PF was issuing statements and orders on the companies that fall under Chamisa, such as TelOne. Which were covered by The Herald, who ignored Chamisa's own statements on the same matter.

In other words, endorsing the second snatching of the ministry from Chamisa, who is now left really only in charge of the Internet infrastructure and policy in Zimbabwe.

Yet, Mugabe knows how to keep them quiet. It is jaunts like these that will keep the MDC ministers quiet. Chamisa, after such glowing praise at international fora, will now find his attitude to Mugabe suddenly changed.

As a result, Mugabe will be able to get away with much more of the same snatching and realignment. It is Chamisa, after all, who showed his love of prestige by telling the media that he had to be seen in Mercedes Benz for his supporters to believe that he was really in power now.

Mugabe read that. He that there was an ego waiting to massaged there. He did that yesterday. And I can bet my bottom dollar Nelson Chamisa will never be the same again.

In all this, through the life of this Inclusive Government so far, have you noticed that it is never Mugabe who changes, but the MDC. From saying "Mugabe must Go", Tsvangirai is now saying, "Mugabe is The Solution, indispensable and irreplaceable."

From saying Mugabe is too old and must step down, Tendai Biti is now saying Mugabe is a "Victorian gentleman, never flustered", and also that he is now "like a father."

One by one, Mugabe is neutralising the opposition and before we know it, we will be facing 1987 all over again.

You have been warned.

So, does anyone feel like a bet?


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