HARARE – It is never easy to focus the spotlight on one so high, such as the spouse of the leader of the Republic, but the recent random behaviour of President Robert Mugabe’s wife, Grace, compels us to ask — out of genuine growing concern for her and our country — whether indeed she is well.
Let’s pick one relatively small, but important issue to illustrate the point.
Addressing mainly war collaborators at her Mazowe business hub on Thursday, in her ongoing and curiously themed “Meet the People” engagements, Mrs Mugabe alleged, without batting an eyelid, that Vice President Joice Mujuru owned a supposed 10 percent shareholding in Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe, publishers of the inimitable Daily News, the Daily News on Sunday and the Weekend Post.
“Did you know that she (Mujuru) holds 10 percent shareholding in the Daily News? That is why you see the newspaper write negatively about Grace Mugabe everyday. Hameno kuti vakandionei. Vanondiona se toilet yekuti kana akuda kuita zvinhu zvake anongomhanya ikoko kutoilet (I don’t know why they are doing this to me. They are treating me like a toilet which people use whenever they want to),” she said.
What contrived and almost pitiably-false horse manure.
For the record and avoidance of doubt, neither Joice Mujuru nor any of her associates has a single share either directly or indirectly in the Daily News.
While we are obviously flattered to learn officially that we are not just followed closely but also taken seriously by the crème de la crème of the country’s VIPs such as Grace, and that our titles appear to occupy such a hallowed place in the body politic of our country as to sometimes induce unfounded hallucinations, it is worrying for many reasons when a First Lady, of all people, lies this blatantly and maliciously.
For a start, one would expect that someone who has boasted very openly during her controversial rallies that she is at the heart of decision-making at the highest level in this country, including deciding who becomes and does not become the Vice President of Zimbabwe, would have accurate information on something as straightforward as the ownership of the Daily News.
The incontrovertible fact is that Amai could easily get this public and unsophisticated “intelligence” from any number of statutory organisations such as the direct media licensing body, the Zimbabwe
Media Commission, or the Registrar of Companies, if she really wanted to know this information.
But this is of no consequence to her, and she definitely does not want to know the truth. Because that would get in the way of her toxic and malicious snake-oil political conspiracies.
While we hold no brief for Mujuru, who herself has been at the receiving end of sharp criticism on many occasions in our newspapers, Grace’s all-consuming mission at the moment is to destroy and annihilate the embattled VP, by any means necessary. Even if this means telling a blue lie about an imaginary shareholding stake in the Daily News by Mujuru.
For us, the ramifications of the First Lady’s destructive game and lies are potentially severe, given our painful experience at the rough hands of her husband’s government.
First, our staff were harassed and imprisoned willy-nilly in our early years at the direct instigation of many in the motley crew that now makes up the backbone of Mrs Mugabe’s Zanu PF faction and support.
And when this did not yield the desired results, our printing press was completely destroyed in a barbaric bombing in January 2001, that followed threats from a garrulous Cabinet minister and that was widely believed to have been carried out by State agents.
And finally, the same cast of anarchists who are evidently micromanaging Mrs Mugabe contrived to shut down the Daily News violently and unjustly in September 2003, after they enacted a legal instrument solely for this morbid purpose. The paper was only able to return to the market in late March 2011.
Of course, history has recorded that some of the worst excesses of Zanu PF’s well-documented misrule of the past 34 years occurred around the time that the Daily News was out of circulation.
And with the newspaper for the people not there to hold leaders to account, Zimbabweans and their beloved country paid a high price for this, including Operation Murambatsvina, a record hyperinflation and the vengeful murders of opposition supporters that followed Mugabe’s stunning loss to Morgan Tsvangirai in the disputed 2008 presidential election.
So, yes Mrs Mugabe, we fully comprehend what this game is about. Your advisers first alleged, unsuccessfully because it was false, that we lived on donor funding, and have now moved to this outrage.
Let no one be surprised if we are next accused of being baby dumping cannibals, to use their popular language. We indeed expect worse more from our detractors. Watch this space! Daily News