The idle ramblings of a Jack of some trades, Master of none

London abounds with free newspapers, catering to every whim and community. Some of them are pushed through our mailbox, several we find strewing the ends of escalators in the Tube, and yet others are stacked up on street corners in bright green, red, blue and white boxes. The New Zimbabwe is one among these and I saw it lying about recently languishing at home.

The paper is published from Birmingham and has a website. The editor, Mduduzi Mathuthu, thoughtfully provides his mobile phone, and I am fairly certain that he only does so because he welcomes close contact with his readership.

In common with most men, I started reading the paper from the back. In my case, this was not because I am particularly interested in sports, but because the headline said "It's War" in bold white against a red background. It referred to the Zimbabwean soccer league's top two teams about to meet each other for what is effectively the title decider. It's good to see that the Dynamos and the Highlanders are giving it their all, especially when that old bastard Mugabe seems hellbent on annihilating what is left of their country.

There are full page advertisements by money transfer types and by the IOM (International Organisation for Migration). These worthies can help me return home if my visa has expired, or if I am illegally in the UK, or if I am an asylum seeker. Good to know. It's not part of the UK government, but probably gets its funds directly or indirectly from Her Majesty for the same reason that the phatta at the bottom of this article is funny.

Then there's socialite gossip, Southern African style. A drag queen claims she had an affair with Nhlanhla Neiza's hubby but now wants to reconcile. Who is Nhlanhla Neiza? I am pleased to say that she is the lead singer of the very popular band Mafikizolo, known near and far for such hits as Emlanjeni.

There's an agony aunt column by Skye Roseline T Chirape, who has a degree in psychology, is a writer and a freelance fashion stylist. A small square photo shows a a grimacing woman with what look like blond dreadlocks, a large pink bangle on one wrist, and a rectangular purple handbag. Her advice has much common sense in it, and she addresses such issues as what two young lesbians should do to have a baby; whether a happily married man should tell his wife that he bonked a whore; and what a woman, whose husband's friends taunt her, should do, especially when her hubby ignores the insults.

Moving on, the Religious Corner tackles healthy eating. It points out that Biblically acceptable foods, if eaten in moderation, should provide all the sustenance and health benefits touted by modern science. Lot Masiane, the author, may very well be right, and he makes his points without any finger-jabbing.

The business section makes for some interesting reading. There have been reported plans by the Zimbabwean reserve bank to demonetise its currency. It is currently pegged at 30,000 to the US dollar, an eminently laughable rate considering that on the black market, you can get forty times as much. Some speculators, it is claimed, tried to make money ahead of the issue of the new currency, but got burned when the central bank decided to postpone its plans.

But it is the finance column by Lance Mambondiani, director of Coronation Financial Holdings, that boggles the mind. Invest in the Zimbabwean Stock Market!? Who would bother? And yet, clearly he is providing a service to the benighted investors in that country. He addresses the question of whether investing in shares would beat the black market, especially since price controls would trash corporates. He points out that by using inflation hedge investment options, one indeed could have beaten the parallel market. His reasoning is that since the distribution of returns of the ZSE is so non-normal, standard risk measures do not apply, and so investors have flocked into it purely based on inflation and forecasts of monetary policy expansion. Considering that numbers on the indices are nonsensical (287,380,621.19 in October 2007, and I particularly like the decimal points), it is perhaps only a sign of the acute desperation of the Zimbabwean who has to shell out millions to obtain a loaf of bread that he makes any stock purchase at all. To add to the mayhem, Lance provides tips on exiting gracefully from a bull run, and says that the TOP 5 recommendations for stocks can be had by email from

The cover article is on the murder in Hull of (pay attention here) the lover of the sister of the current Miss Zimbabwe UK by her (the sister's) ex-boyfriend, an Angolan dude. There's a photo of the sisters with their mother, which you can see above, and the sister, on the left, looks far hotter than the Miss Zimbabwe. After the murder was reported, the mailing forums on the newspaper's website started chattering. One particularly sensitive fellow who knew the victim said he had warned him about Zimbabwean women: Definitely, not about the knife thing, but about the dreaded disease. Another pointed out that the man was South African, hardworking unlike many of his compatriots, and Zimbabwean women fancied him simply because he was not Zimbabwean. Ouch.

In main news, a diesel mystic appears to have fooled the ZANU-PF party hacks and exposed the gullibility of that son-of-a-bitch Mugabe's cabinet, who are desperate to find magic solutions to the country's descent into hell. When Zimbabwe faced crippling fuel shortages, Nomatter Tagarira convinced the powers-that-be that Changamire Dombo, the cattle-driver founder of the Rozvi Empire, had left behind treasures hidden in Mashonaland West province.
This wealth, in the form of diesel, gold and diamonds, she told mesmerised ministers, could help the country out of the economic quagmire spawned by violent seizures of productive farmland in 2007.
Eager to locate and exploit this cornucopia, the ministers of Home Affairs, Defence and Security rushed to the medium, provided her with protection and lavished her with wealth, and waited for the diesel to gush out. Needless to say, it didn't and Tagarira is now in prison on charges of fraud. No guesses on how this unfortunate deluded woman will end up.

There's some other news. Nothing too interesting. The editorial column is inconspicuous. Instead there is a long and impassioned argument against Tsvangirai, the hapless chief of the opposition, who is accused of being as autocratic, arbitrary and corrupt as ZANU-PF, except with that he bears a democratic mask. The only way to resuscitate the movement for democracy, the author claims, is to putsch old Morgan who has abandoned constitutional propriety in every crisis faced by his outfit. Meanwhile, Joram Nyathi writes (in How Africans Impoverish Africa) that Africans today are mainly to blame for the continent's ills, because educated Africans abandon their homelands in droves. He accords some blame on the West for acquiescing to and indeed living off this brain drain, but points out Africa doesn't really need philanthropy -
it needs its skill back: its doctors, architects, lawyers, accountants, teachers, university lecturers and engineers to feed and develop itself. African intellectuals owe the continent a huge debt.
Amen to that. And if people ask exactly what you are doing about this yourself, you can honestly point out that you are one of the few that stayed behind: deputy editor of the Zimbabwe Independent, based in Harare. It is heartening that at least one person has the courage of his convictions. I wish you well, my brother.


Anonymous said...

quite clearly you read the paper well, so you must be zimbabwean without a doubt.

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