Tuesday, June 18, 2013

(STICKY) (HERALD ZW) The crime of humanising Mugabe
Wednesday, 12 June 2013 00:00

COMMENT - See Dali Tambo's interview with President Mugabe here on Youtube. Reason Wafawarova on the reaction to the interview in the neoliberal press. - MrK
WE live in a world of uneven wealth and conflicts of class interests; and those controlling the levers of power will make sure that the media serve the ends of dominant elites.

In the affairs of global body politic, it is those wielding economic and military power that will often use the strength of powerful media houses to pursue their own ends.

Those journalists working for such media houses operate with complex news filters carefully designed to promote elitist domination, and the domination sometimes seems to occur so naturally that media personnel are able to convince themselves that they are conducting themselves with complete goodwill and integrity — even judging themselves objective on the basis of professional news values.

There is this contextualised objectivity that is governed by filter constraints beyond the control of mere reporters and news writers, and these constraints can be so powerful that it is unimaginable to come up with alternative basis of news choices. Mugabe in particular — the quintessential scandalisation of

From the time Zimbabwe embarked on the noble-intended and highly-successful land reclamation exercise, media filters in the West and the white-controlled South African media formed only one basis to cover news related to the Zimbabwean Government in general and to President the whole endeavour, fully expounded by the unequivocal portrayal of the person of Mugabe as nothing short of a devil incarnate.

In the eyes of white imperialism, Robert Mugabe ceased to exist as a human being the day he allowed “lawless thugs” to “invade” white “owned” farms.

Not even a moment was spared to assess how colonially-grabbed land could legitimately be owned.

All that was criminalised and vilified was “the land grab” by “unskilled blacks.”

MDC was rashly fronted as the disgruntled voice of progressive blacks, and the posturing of the party’s leadership as neo-liberalists so fervently committed to the god of lawfulness was immensely promoted in the West — and Morgan Tsvangirai and his brigade gleefully kowtowed to the directives of those that funded each and every single political behaviour the party ever carried out. Fidelis Mhashu even nefariously vowed to return land to the whites.

Tsvangirai and his team sacrificed whatever popularity his party was commanding in 2000 by choosing to stand in the way of the immensely popular land reclamation programme.

Tsvangirai himself was audacious enough to be publicly filmed collecting fat cheques from dispossessed white farmers.

The farmers egocentrically declared that they were “investing in the MDC” in order to ensure the return of the farms through what they thought would be an achievable MDC government.

Zanu-PF vociferously preached unbridled egalitarianism, and the party made a good political case out of the illogical and rapacious system that allowed 6 000 white farmers to hold on to 80 percent of the country’s arable land — land now giving sustainable livelihood to no less than 300 000 resettled indigenous families.

There is no doubt that Zanu-PF escaped electoral defeat in election 2000 solely on the basis of the land reclamation programme.

Conversely, the MDC lost that election solely and specifically because of the party’s sponsored posturing against the same programme.

In the misguided ideology that says Western money bags are more important than votes, and that donor funding supersedes the dignity of sovereignty, the MDC is once again going to lose election 2013 due in six weeks — this time because of the party’s vacuous opposition to the massively popular indigenisation policy, so far immensely popularised by the 59 community shares schemes the programme has achieved.

Zanu-PF is heading for victory on the strength of the emerging successes of the land reform programme, as well as the populism of the widely embraced indigenisation policy.

There is little doubt that the rapprochement coming from the West could be deceptive or ill-intentioned, and Zanu-PF is best advised not to be carried away by the friendly overtures coming through Western emissaries — or by the inconsequential systematic gestures of partial lifting of the illegally imposed sanctions.

Most importantly, Zanu-PF must not take too seriously the arbiters of opinion polls carried out by Freedom House and Afro-Barometer.

Rather, the party must vigorously press on with the indigenisation drive — exposing to the fullest the donor-funded posturing of its political adversaries.

Lloyd Msipa sounds acutely concerned about the complacency within Zanu-PF ranks — and he recently intimated to this writer that the biggest political opposition to Zanu-PF as things stand is complacency.

After securing a rare interview with President Mugabe, South African journalist Dali Tambo says he makes no apologies for “humanising a man who has long been demonised,” according to Mail & Guardian journalist David Smith.

It appears the resolute stance taken by Dali Tambo has been regarded as a little more than a mere overstating of President Mugabe’s often derided human side. Cape Talk 567 presenter Kieno Kammies has the audacity to reduce the whole interview to a mere “public relations exercise.”

You do not humanise a demonised character whose slanderers are Western powers and expect to go undemonised yourself, and Dali Tambo comes as a classical example.

Kammies has no problem making unashamed proclamations that his views are influenced by Zimbabwe’s “land grab,” and he does not see why any sane person could ever hear or publish the positive side of such an “evil man’’ as President Mugabe, to him the land grabber-in-chief.

Dali Tambo took offence at the charges and he stated, “If you start the interview hating him, and you go in there with a closed mind, that is your problem. I present the man as he actually is, and you must take what you want from it. Those are his answers to my questions.”

Referring to the propaganda onslaught from the mainstream South African media and mainly from the Western media, Tambo noted, “You had never heard a word the guy said in consecutive conversation before.”

In 2003 Western media went hyper-hysteric euphorically reporting to the world that President Mugabe had bragged, “Let me be a Hitler tenfold.”

This was merely a slander-driven selected statement from an otherwise very reasonable response to the BBC that had compared the Zimbabwean statesman to Adolf Hitler.

This is what President Mugabe had said in full, “This Hitler has only one objective: justice for his people, sovereignty for his people, recognition of the independence of his people and their rights over their resources. If that is Hitler, then let me be a Hitler tenfold.”

Kammies told Tambo that he saw no point of the whole interview if Mugabe was not asked about “recent human rights reports.” In short, Kammies was asking why undemonising questions should ever be used in an interview of a declared enemy of imperial supremacy.

Tambo could not understand the logic and he asked, “Why is that central to 89 years of a man’s life? A recent human rights report?”

Pointing out the domineering and patronising nature of mainstream white-owned media Tambo said to Kammies, “Don’t obsess on what you want me to obsess on.” Every journalist worthy the name in the eyes of imperialist power has to obsess with the diktats of imperial interests, seeing in very bad light whoever it is that dares to stand in the way of global political powers. Tambo had to remind Kammies that his interview was not “a trial of Robert Mugabe, as much as you would like me to do.”

In a clear admiration of British supremacy, David Smith narrated how ironically mellifluous it all sounded that Tambo interviewed President Mugabe “while lunching with his wife and children in a stately room that once hosted the Queen,” as if any African cares about where the Queen eats her next lunch.

David Smith wonders loudly why Dali Tambo did not take the opportunity to pursue the agenda of what he called “headline writers,” who have in the past slandered and vilified First Lady Grace Mugabe over unverified and unfounded allegations of profligacy.

Such questions would have made David Smith’s idea of an interview, especially with a person so loathed by the West as President Mugabe.

To many viewers hearing President Mugabe intimately and passionately talking about his love life could have been pleasing or entertaining, but David Smith was riled to see “this man pouring out his heart to the cameras.”

Like Kammies, David Smith openly justified his hatred for President Mugabe on the basis of the land reclamation programme, declaring, “His reputation rapidly crumbled with the violent seizures of white-owned farms.”

Tambo in fact asked the President about his answer to such accusations. The reply was very simple: “They will praise you only if you are doing what pleases them.”

This makes super-sense when one recalls how the Australian Prime Minister recently showered unassuming Morgan Tsvangirai with Mandela-like accolades, a joke that many people did not find funny.

Another scribe for the Mail & Guardian, Verashni Pillay, was so infuriated by the timing and scope of the Tambo-Mugabe interview that she described it all as a “sycophantic interview with the ageing tyrant,” adding that the aired episode was “notorious.”

In unequivocal wrath, Pillay charged that Tambo’s interviewing style was “sycophantic and fawning.”

This is what you get for the crime of humanising Mugabe — the monster the West would never want to be counted among humans ever again.

Pillay wondered why Tambo did not ask the Zimbabwean leader “tough questions,” and she quickly gave examples of her idea of such tough questions, reminding her readers about Dali Tambo’s “questioning around Helen Zille’s family life and how her husband had to take an expanded role in the home,” a question to Pillay certainly tougher than Mugabe being asked why he had his first child outside wedlock while his wife was living her last days.

Pillay added a tougher question that could have been an imitation of how Tambo had once asked Helen Zille “to imagine a parallel life where she joined the ANC,” perhaps inferring that President Mugabe should have been asked about his feelings about leading the MDC. The question would read more ludicrous than tough, I guess.

Pillay says she found it quite offensive that Tambo was “listening politely” to President Mugabe’s “detailed narrations,” something any decent journalist worth any semblance of Western recognition would never do.

She says it was unforgivable that Tambo did a whole documentary on President Mugabe without mentioning the MDC — more so at a time Zimbabwe is facing “a crucial election.” She described as a “doomed mission” any effort to show “Mugabe’s softer side.”

Her reasoning on this is that President Mugabe is “a man who has stayed in power since 1980, using violent and undemocratic means,” that despite the known fact that President Mugabe is the most elected leader in Africa’s democratic history, having won six consecutive elections since 1980.

Today his party is the only one calling for an election to end an unholy coalition with the MDC formations.

It is the MDC formations that are making vociferous demands for President Mugabe to keep ruling and forget about elections — ostensibly until something called “reforms” happens.

Clearly absolving the West over the ruinous effect of biting sanctions over Zimbabwe, Pillay charged that hearing President Mugabe saying how he loves his wife and children was “an act of comical horror and disregard for the suffering of millions.”

Zimbabwe we are one and together we will overcome. It is homeland or death!

Reason Wafawarova is a political writer based in Sydney, Australia.

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