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Please Mthuli, tax these bastards!

24 Feb 2019 at 06:36hrs | Views
"The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised."


A story is often told of how Charles Mungoshi was once invited for a book reading of his Shona novel "Makunun'unu Maodzamoyo" at Rakodzi High School in Marondera eons ago.

As human beings are wont to do, the students, in their mind's eye, had already carved out a stereotypical impression of the man.

They imagined that a literary god who had perfected the witchcraft of prose to literally reconstruct — through his pen — the world as we know it, would have his soul nestled in a body that was equally fit for a god — an Adonis, God's perfect creation.

They imagined, too, that someone who seemed to have so much to say in his works would be voluble, boisterous and authoritative.

They were sorely disappointed.

Before their eyes was an unassuming, coy — even shy — chap who seemed to cower under the comfort of his never-to-be-removed flat cap.

He struggled to make eye contact and his frayed nerves failed him.

But he always had a secret potion, which he invariably kept in his breast pocket.

Before the book reading, he took a generous swig from the hip flask and sat it down the table, from where it was hidden from prying eyes.

The elixir worked wonders.

With each sip, he grew bolder and assertive, and, with effortless consummate ease, he went through select chapters of the book, putting life to hitherto static words.

The story of Mungoshi and his drink is for another day, but those who knew him say whenever he took the wise waters, he would reproduce himself through various voices that played in his head; which voices became the foundation of his art.

However, after he was through with his book reading, it became clear why he was the Pablo Picasso of our literary world.

Here was a man who could break down the world into little specks and fragments that he would use to mould —using both his vernacular language and the Queen's tongue — a reality that we would feel, see and touch in his works.

Though works of fiction, his artworks were so enchantingly believable that they blurred the boundaries between reality and fiction.

Mungoshi, like Dambudzo Marechera, belongs to a pantheon of gods that had discovered that miraculous gateway, where the reader could easily slip into real and imagined worlds.

His fiction made sense of reality, and reality made sense of his fiction.

You see, Mungoshi is like that unnamed lily-livered Greek poet who was ridiculed for always running away from the war front, but his works outlived even the most valiant of Greek warriors.

So, too, will Mungoshi's works.

They will outlive all of us.

As this golden generation take their earthly bow, who will take the baton?

Bishop Lazi is worried, especially with the rise of social media, which has gradually turned all of us into the living dead.

Bane of unsocial media

They say we have to be eternally thankful for this innovative platform that has conveniently distilled time and space in so magical a way that it is both surreal and addictive.

Well, they also say social media has become similarly addictive as the then-exotic sugar was to our fore-bearers.

And we see it every day in the form of smartphone-clutching zombies that jaywalk our streets, including perennially inattentive parents who spend inordinate hours on their phones.

If you are so unlucky as to have an accident — God forbid — in this social media-crazed society, you instantly become a zoo animal.

They will happily snap away despite your shrill cries for help.

Nxa mhani!

Paradoxically, a creature of technology and innovation is now turning us into brawling little caveman.

It is wringing out all the creative juices from our people and spawning a lazy and gratingly irritating generation.

But Bishop Lazi prides himself for being a social-media teetotaller. Being an Arthritis-plagued old-timer, he finds the exertions of always dexterously typing away on smartphone keys tiring.

Typically, he can only go as far as unlocking his password and leaves the rest to his secretary, who always has the onerous task of keeping him in the loop of social-media conversations — which she occasionally redacts on account of the vulgarity of the debates and engagements.

The thought of grown-ass men and women competing to outdo each other through breath-taking insults, intimidation and trolling stinks to the high heavens.

Social media has clearly perverted us like the Kardashian family, where we mistake indecency for being "sexy".


Twitter is actually the worst.

The damage than can be wrought by those 140 characters is quite evidently immense.

But the chickens are slowly coming home to roost.

Jack Dorsey, the bearded chap who founded Twitter, says Twitter has become both "divisive" and "contentious".

"Politics Twitter tends to be pretty divisive. And it tends to be pretty contentious. You see a lot of outrage and you see a lot of unhealthy debate that you'd probably want to walk away from," he told the CNN in an August 19 interview last year.

Earlier that year, in a speech on the "The Standards of Public Life" that was made on February 7 2018 in Manchester, UK Prime Minister Theresa May launched into a mournful monologue about how social media was tearing apart the British society.

"Social media and digital communication — which in themselves can and should be forces for good in our democracy — are being exploited and abused, often anonymously.

"British democracy has always been robust and oppositional. But a line is crossed when disagreement mutates into intimidation. When putting across your point of view becomes trying to exclude and intimidate those with whom you disagree . . .

"And it is online where some of the most troubling behaviour now occurs . . .

"For while there is much to celebrate, I worry that our public debate today is coarsening. That for some it is becoming harder to disagree, without also demeaning opposing viewpoints in the process. I believe that all of us — individuals, governments, and media old and new — must accept our responsibility to help sustain a genuinely pluralistic public debate. . .

"But today, the ideal of a truly plural and open public sphere where everyone can take part is in danger. A tone of bitterness and aggression has entered into our public debate. In public life, and increasingly in private conversations too, it is becoming harder and harder to conduct any political discussion, on any issue, without it descending into tribalism and rancour," she lamented.

If our cousins in the cold isles are feeling the heat, what more mere mortals like Bishop Lazi who live in the African savanna?

We now know, as we have always suspected, of how social media was used as a handy tool to destabilise Zimbabwe.

In an official brief that was compiled in the wake of the gratuitous violence of June 14-16, it was observed that civil society organisations had actually organised training workshops on May 10 and May 11 last year, through which they "received training on citizen mobilisation, handling social media, use of propaganda through social media, initiating and controlling uprisings and intelligence collection".

We also now know that "the organisers of the violent protests exploited the internet and social media platforms, particularly WhatsApp, for their mobilisation, misinformation and disinformation."

Tax them

1 Peter 5:18 reads: "Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour."

It seems we have always been laggards when it comes to being pro-active on such matters.

Bishop Lazi thinks that there has to be a quid pro quo for these social media services that have the carte blanche to operate within our jurisdiction.

Slowly, social media, which has had a deleterious impact on creativity, is evolving into an instrument for our own mutually assured self-destruction.

Not surprisingly, the UK is already in the process of crafting the Data Protection Bill that is designed to dial back gratuitous abuse, immoral content and human rights abuses on these platforms.

But — hear, hear Mthuli Ncube — they are going a step further.

On October 29 last year, UK chancellor Philip Hammond announced his intention to introduce a levy on tech companies that earn substantial revenues in Britain, but pay limited amounts of tax.

The proposed tax would take 2 percent of UK revenue from companies with more than £500 million of global income in three sectors: search engines, social networking, and online marketplaces.

Similarly, China has successfully shut out Google, Facebook and Twitter and created alternative networks that advance its interests.

WeChat — its own version of Whats App — is used as much for networking as it is used for payment solutions.

Rather than use it as an instrument of violence, China has managed to use social media as an instrument for stability and economic development.

Yes, Mthuli, as you said, we need to think outside the box.

I think isusu, ordinary folk, tabho nematax.

There is a low-hanging fruit before us.

Tax those damn bastards.

Source - sundaymail
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