Thursday, November 29, 2012

(HERALD ZW) Buhera: Tracking the hole that sank the Premier

Buhera: Tracking the hole that sank the Premier
Friday, 23 November 2012 20:43

My profuse apologies, dear reader, for not delivering on my commitment last week. What Nathaniel Manheru proposes, the good Lord disposes! But I am sure those opposed to the column must have sighed with relief, however ephemeral the relief might have been. Upset by my absence last week, one of my loyal readers decided to nudge me by way of an SMS joke which has been doing hot rounds in the nether.

You may have seen or read it already. If so, my apologies, but I will repeat it here for those who might not have received it: “Dear Auntie Rhoda, I am a man aged 50 something.

“My ex-girlfriend threatens to stop my wedding with another woman. Ndoita sei? Ndovaroora vese here kana kuti ndotsvaga mumwe futi? Yours Anonymous. Auntie Rhoda replies: Pfutseke iwe Tsvangirai!”

The hole that sank the premier

Just what is wrong with our Prime Minister? Last week he kicked over a busy anthill in Buhera when he sought to mobilise his rural neighbours to celebrate a two-hectare crop of green mealies donors put together for him and his mother in Humanikwa.

But pandemonium broke a day before the supposed celebration.
His irate neighbours mounted a spirited demonstration against him. And their grievance? Well, the Prime Minister had apparently sunk a new, deeper borehole next to a communal one.
This new, deeper borehole then stole water from the shallow communal one which had sustained the village — the Prime Minister’s family included — for years!

We was robbed, cried the villagers!
With the village borehole sunk to a mere 50 or so metres a long time ago, the Prime Minister’s was bored a deeper 65 meters, in the process upsetting the water table against the community.
What is worse, the new, deeper and well equipped borehole was off-limits to the whole village, dedicated as it was to Mbuya Tsvangirai, and of course to the lush, insatiable two hectares of drip-lined greens!

When the worm finally turned
But the community was also not too happy that it was being invited to an investment of narrow, personal value, never mind that the otherwise green patch was so pink with many Western envoys who had trooped down to witness this eighth wonder of the world in dusty, dry and congested Buhera.
The whole venture was viewed senyemu-nyemu yevakuru, as a boisterous display of power and means.

Were they being invited to learn anything at all, to be fed even, or this was a rustling, hissing brag by the Tsvangirais, a brag so well calculated to leave the whole village overawed and greener with envy? It was not a community investment.

Not even for Makanda Primary School, through which the Zesa line that powers the project passes, but parsimoniously without donating an amp of power, indeed without relieving the school of its engulfing darkness.

A real case of the neighbourhood curse! These factors triggered anger, anger that spontaneously organised a protest demonstration in a setting otherwise habitually phlegmatic and almost genetically authority-fearing.
They had been pushed to the darkest corner and yes, the worm finally turned!

Kicking a vote in the mouth
If the embittered village knew what Manheru knows, I have no doubt that a worse fate would have visited our beloved Prime Minister and his project. The water hole was drilled by Government, at no cost to the Prime Minister.

Similarly, power was extended to his home, again at no installation cost to him. Why not use your clout to as well deepen the hole of the community? To light up Makanda?
What is more, why not use the same Israelis to do even a comma five of a hectare for the community so your investment for your mother does not sit oddly, indeed, bears a semblance of motherly care, however fawned this may be?

Who would refuse to do that for the community, at the Prime Minister’s request? Now you turn an already poor community thirstier, angrier, in the wake of self-family glory? And this in a communal home which gave you votes in 2008, but has nothing to show by way of constituency development?

Improving sardines’ habitat
One blunder breeds one too many more. What was the Prime Minister’s message to the few, obliging villagers? Amazingly insensitive, inappropriately national. Tsvangirai used a dry, thirsty settlement to fight and score in a national altercation.

Land reform was unnecessary, he opined. I could feed the whole country from my two hectares, he added, eyes holier than those of Jesus who only managed to feed 5 000, all against our Premier’s 12 million from two hectares!

He said those things to an instigating applause from western diplomats copiously in attendance.
He is still fighting land reforms for the white man, a good 13 years later.
And he is doing it in style. Use technology to get packaged sardines to swim happily in a tin, and tell them you are at sea!

The Prime Minister thinks he is being novel, innovative. He forgets he is being diligently consistent with the Rhodesian philosophy of keeping the native happy in baboon country, so the white landed gentry occupies the land unmolested, unchallenged!

His staff should, if it has time to read at all, study what the Rhodesians did after the Land Apportionment Act, all to make the native appear to thrive in the sandy soils to which he had been consigned, condemned and confined.

By way of innovative farming methods, by way of fertility enhancement, by way of small, irrigation projects, by way of seed engineering for multiplier effect, by way of community development theory, birth control, among other practices.

The point was not to develop the native; the point was to stretch the capacities of poor land, to create an illusion of contentment in an environment of inexorably diminishing returns. It was to mask land alienation, to create an illusion of renewed possibilities in native minds, possibilities which did not apply to the white man on huge swaths of fertile land. Or worse, to get the native to blame himself for his ever declining livelihood.
This is how the Prime Minister’s drip, drip intervention is meant to do.

Where is the money for the eighth wonder?
Not that communal farmers should not be exposed to new technologies of farming. But that such efforts, if really well meant, should never translate into lessons on why land reforms should not have taken place, why land should have been left in the hands of the white man who then creates the Prime Minister, his politics and party in vengeful embitterment in the wake of reassumption of sovereign control by indigenous Zimbabweans.

Such an interpretation poisons well-intentioned interventions, and that is my gripe. Even resettled farmers do need drip irrigation, the same way an Israeli farmer uses it today, only on Palestinian land. But communal interventions must always be right-sized, development administration theories always caution us.

How much does it take to get a hectare of land productive under drip technology? How much is the borehole if you are not a Prime Minister?

How much is the power line, again if you are a mere villager? And the drip lines, the underground pipes, the valves, the filters and all?

With the Premier at 60, why did Ambuya Tsvangirai have to wait until her son rose to Premiership before she got the facility, if at all the technology is so accessible to communal families?
Or will the Premier retort: that is what Government must do? The same Government which can’t get a single bag of fertiliser for the communal farmer?

Failing to do so under his happy watch!
Is it not true that his people fondly remind us he supervises ministries under the Ministers Council, under the Government Work Programme (GWP)?
What small point was William Bango trying to make through his lame reaction to the President’s distribution of inputs under well-wishers’ programme? Who has really failed?
Who deserves to be sacked? Who has the powers to sack who, anyway?

Lesson of big shoes and small feet
Overall, I supposed the Prime Minister is not privy to Schummacher’s small is beautiful development theory, less for its postulates which I reject, more for its criticism of oversized shoes in small feet. As the Prime Minister shall see in the intervening weeks, it is very easy to handle the same matter differently so that it does not end up creating lots of food for thought for him, while hardly yielding a cob for the village stomach! Drip technology is capital intensive. Drip technology does not resolve issues of landlessness, rather, it comes in to turn land reforms to agrarian reforms, the latter being a broader stage in the development and elaboration of a land-based empowerment programme.
So issues of access to land should not be confused with issues of productivity, which is what drip technology takes care of, Mister Prime Minister! Of course I could have dwelt on the bigger problem which the Prime Minister and his party are facing, that of a relevant election message.
But that is for another day.

What is the story, Newsday’s?
Talking about useless messages, just who is driving the bankrupt News Day to go on and on about the mythical city at Mount Hampden? A story which gets more absurd with each installment? What is the paper referring to as the new city near Zvimba?

Could it be referring to the new site atop Mount Hampden for the proposed new parliament which the Chinese have offered to build at no cost to Government and the people of Zimbabwe? Could that be it?

I suspect so, given the paper’s reference to the Kopje site. The Chinese made it clear to Government that the Kopje site would be quite expensive to work on, with the greater part of the grant for the project going towards making the ground usable. That was made public and the media covered it. Towards end of last year, the President then led a whole group of Central Committee members to the new Mt Hampden site for an appreciation.

That visit was open to the media, although the media missed it due to own delays. Then Minister Chombo led a media facility visit.
Again more coverage followed. So what is the story, if someone at News Day could please tell me?

Swapping fate
Of course, there is a story, although it has nothing to do with the project about to start.
The real story stems from the newspaper’s anxiety that the telegenic project will redound to Zanu-(PF) electorally, thereby further weakening a struggling MDC-T. And the counter-strategy is to mobilise an attitude against it.

This is where the linkage with Zvimba vainly comes in! And a vain effort indeed it is! Which is nearer to Mount Hampden Zvimba communal lands or the Prime Minister’s Mabelreign home?
Which is nearer Zvimba, Norton or Mt Hampden? In what way does a proposed structure at faraway Hampden become the President’s home city the way that the nearer Norton does not?

I never thought journalism could become that bald. No wonder bonus-related petitions are flying between angry newsrooms and broke executive offices. We are a discerning readership and only foolish publishers allow equally foolish editors to ruin their enterprises on such a low-stakes game. I mean, in what way are adversities of the MDC-T News Day’s concern, let alone obsessive tragedy? In case they are, well then the publisher must embrace the shared fate that awaits him after March 2013!

What time takes care of
And still another senseless one. I have followed with amusement this whole debate about the constitution making process and the role of principals. I took note of Mwonzora’s petulant assertion that principals should not be allowed any nearer the document. I suppose he craved for principals as shouting partners. The principals did not oblige. Why would they given that with the submission of the document to the management team, Mwonzora’s role would wither away. Never waste in energy what time takes care of. It is now all quiet on the Mwonzora front! Then you had Minister Matinenga trying to make sympathetic noises in the wake of Mwonzora’s petulance. He would not agree to a process that would take the exercise outside Parliament, he said, citing the chapter and verse from an apotheosised GPA which today bedims the heavenly aura of the 10 commandments! Well, he didn’t have to agree; he is only an outgoing Minister who serves to the pleasure of the appointing authority. If he had indicated the job was beyond him, whether on grounds of capacity or conscience, another Minister would have been found or reassigned by the appointing authority. And he never told the principals all that he was bawling about through the press, which is why no one took notice. But that is not my main point.

Expletives with no sense
The process has now moved, with the principals meeting over it only last Monday. Before them was a report submitted as amended to the management committee by COPAC, of which the ex-ZANU Ndonga guy is a member. After looking at the document, the Principals cleverly ask Matinenga to reconcile the points of divergences as articulated during the Second Stakeholders Conference.

Matinenga is thrilled, boisterously telling the media he is in total charge of the exercise assigned to him by ...er ...by principals! Ha ha hahahaha! So that is what was at issue? Well, enjoy sekuru! I hope Professor Madhuku is taking full note in preparation for the last laughter. Billy Bango, it would appear, has made a second coming full of hard expletives, but hardly carrying any grain of sense. His abusive statement against Professor Madhuku conveyed more a sense of embitterment and betrayal than it gave a reasoned response to an opinion it so intolerantly and insolently sought to outlaw.

Icho!
nathaniel.manheru@zimpapers.co.zw


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