Africa's curse of the hack

HARARE - In the early years of Africa’s independence from colonialism, most governments bought out all the newspapers and turned them into either party rags or government mouthpieces.

In some quarters, this was justified on the basis that the people ought to be united in their task to make independence meaningful and relevant to all of them.

This was a falsehood which the people soon realised was intended to imprison their consciences into a mould in which they would not escape the shackles of the party in power.

“Unity” was translated, quite simply, into a one-party system of government.

There would be no opposition.

The people would march as one…to a destination they were told would create equality among them all.

None of the propaganda would fool the people, in the end.

But the era of the party rags and the government mouthpieces brought forth a kind of journalism which introduced to the people the buffoon that was the hack.

Such a journalist wrote screeds and screeds in praise of the government and the ruling party.

There were lengthy pieces pontificating on how the party would transform the people’s lives overnight.

I personally came close to being turned into a hack, in both Zambia and Zimbabwe.

I escaped by the skin of my teeth.

In both countries, the life of the hack continues, thanks to the countries’ romance with the one-party system.

In Zimbabwe, there was such a fascination with Marxism-Leninism, Robert Mugabe pronounced, with proud defiance, that he was a Marxist-Leninist.

How much his declaration twisted the economic thrust of the country in that direction cannot now be measured in real terms.

But it is clear that his legacy, in the long-term, will include a moribund State of an economy which impoverished most of the people and turned a few politicians into billionaires overnight.

From all the recent declarations of the party led by Mugabe since the overthrow of Ndabaningi Sithole, there will be no change in the multiplicity of newspapers and other journals owned and run by the ruling party.

If the cynics believe that this will ensure that real democracy will be a long time in arriving in Zimbabwe, their prognosis ought not to be dismissed out of hand as hogwash.

There still exist in most African countries — in fact, all African countries — typical examples of political hacks.

Happily, however, most people have long realised that, if they were united, in real terms, there would be no opportunity for the hacks to succeed in their task of turning the country into political and economic squalor.

Our immediate neighbours and our partners in that hodgepodge of a political misdeed known as the federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland have displayed more political maturity that we have since independence.

Zambia and Malawi have had political transitions which have had little of the bloodshed we have experienced since our full nationhood.

This is not to say that we ought to emulate their examples without examining our own special failures.

Zanu PF is evidently pleased as punch that the MDC is in shambles and that their No. 1 nemesis, Morgan Tsvangirai’s star is on the wane.

Yet Zanu PF, under the geriatric guidance of a man whose own health is also on the wane, seems to be doddering to an uncertain destiny.

Meanwhile, the people in general cannot be excited by the continuing lack of seriousness of the government’s nest of publications and electronic apparatus.

On more and more occasions, the people are being shown that this government is clueless as to what ought to be done — about the economy, particularly.

The hacks are clueless too, which must please many ordinary people, whose livelihoods remain threatened by the tomfoolery of the fat cats.

Post a comment

Readers are kindly requested to refrain from using abusive, vulgar, racist, tribalistic, sexist, discriminatory and hurtful language when posting their comments on the Daily News website.
Those who transgress this civilised etiquette will be barred from contributing to our online discussions.
- Editor

Your email address will not be shared.