Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Zim presidential succession fights spill into newsrooms

The last time Jonathan Moyo flaunted his misguided ambitions, he gathered senior ZANU-PF people at some hideout in his then parliamentary constituency of Tsholotsho and strategized on countering Robert Mugabe’s perceived intention to make Joyce Mujuru Vice President of both his party and the nation.

This meeting intended to strategise and push for the long-suffering Emerson Mnangagwa to be given the second spot against Mujuru and it flew in the face of Mugabe by simply trying to head-off Mugabe in a direction acceptable to those gathered.

The result was the sidelining and suspension of a host of ZANU-PF stalwarts from the party’s political and provincial districts.

After years in the political wilderness, some of these people had just had their suspensions lifted.
It was also at this time that Moyo introduced the two most obnoxious legislative pieces, the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) and the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) that not only caused untold distress to journalists and media houses but curtailed people’s freedoms.

Moyo’s attempts at being the kingmaker was fuelled by the simple fact that since Zimbabwe’s independence, Mugabe never made an attempt to groom a successor so the post of Vice President was seen as a vacancy to be used at Mugabe’s convenience.

And he used it well ÔÇô ask Mnangagwa who, for millennia, was always made to believe he was Mugabe’s chosen successor.
As Mugabe’s days tick away, the fight for succession gets dirtier and meaner.
And what a circus it is!

We cannot, however, start laughing just because the circus convoy is streaming into town. We have to wait for the delivery of the fun and the jokes.

Although the circus is still setting up tent, I cannot resist talking, not about the forthcoming show but about why the circus is being staged in front of animal rights activists, so to speak.
The contradictions are fascinating.

Our nation is at the crossroads where it has been for years. We have problems.
Our Zimbabwe is ‘pretty bad’ ÔÇô the oxymoron of politics, if you will.
While Robert Mugabe and Jonathan Moyo have always had a love/hate relationship, they are also like peas in a pod – oxymoronic fools who cannot rid each of the other.

Mugabe has just ‘rehabilitated’ Jonathan Moyo, who lost his parliamentary seat last year. Moyo bounced back not only as a Non-constituency (Specially Elected) Member of Parliament but made it back into cabinet as Information and Broadcasting Minister, the very position he was in before falling out with Mugabe.

And he wasted no time in tempering with the media, first appearing friendly and wishing for good working relationships but not doing anything about POSA and AIPPA.

Further, he still dreamt about his political hobby of king maker and he set out to complete it but this time in a more subtle way, appointing editors and deputies, firing others and causing upheaval, warranted or otherwise, at the state-owned Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation.

Two weeks ago, Mugabe got an opportunity at the wake and then at the funeral of Nathan Shamuyarira, the man who once occupied and ran the Information Ministry.
Mugabe then called Jonathan Moyo a “weevil” intent on destroying the party from within, and who is using the state media to fan divisions within the party.

“We now have weevils in our midst,” Mugabe said at the funeral. “Zanu PF has weevils within its ranks.”

He added that Moyo is “a devil incarnate”.
A week or so later, they had apparently reconciled but Mugabe’s vitriolic verbal attack of Moyo has opened possibilities for his enemies within the party to go after him.

Be that as it may, Mugabe’s attack of Moyo is rooted in ‘the type of people’ Moyo appointed to run state-owned media houses and newspapers.

Mugabe believes that Moyo, who now has presidential ambitions of his own, is using state media to promote his faction, the faction allegedly led by Justice Minister Emerson Mnangagwa, the same man for whom Moyo convened that infamous meeting in Tsholotsho.

“If we have such in our midst, we fish them out. You do not use counter-revolutionary people who only yesterday were condemning the party and put them at the forefront,” Mugabe said. He was referring to Moyo’s appointing of new editors at state-run media houses – editors that Mugabe has always viewed as critics of his party’s policies and who he accused of promoting “regime change”.
Now journalists are on the run again.

On Thursday, police arrested Edmund Kudzayi, the Editor of the state-run Sunday Mail and, on the same night, the editor of the Chronicle, Mduduzi Mathuthu’s property was stolen, prompting suspicion that these two events were related.

According the Zimbabwe Situation website, Kudzayi “faces a raft of allegations including undermining President Robert Mugabe’s authority, terrorism, espionage, attempting to overturn a constitutional order – and pretty much whatever else the authorities can think of”.

This comes on the same day that Stanley Gama, the Group Editor of Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe “was cleared of criminal defamation charges after a Harare magistrate said that the law under which he was being charged had been declared illegal by the constitutional court”.

The heart of the matter is that Zimbabwean journalists are under a worsening siege as Zimbabwean presidential succession fights spill into newsrooms.

The factional fights within ZANU-PF are now being fought on the heads of journalists and we might be looking at the beginning of a serious effort to control journalists, castrate the media further and subdue journalists to use them for the politicians’ ends.

It was insulting when, on Friday, Jonathan Moyo himself broke his silence on the hunt and arrest of his editors.

Unbelievably, Moyo said that there was nothing sinister about the Sunday Mail editor’s arrest.
“Nothing special is happening here, depending on how one looks at it,”Moyo told Zimbabwean journalist Ray Ndlovu. “Zimbabwe Newspapers Limited is a law-abiding organisation and will co-operate fully with the police. The law is taking its course therefore matters will be resolved legally.”

It remains to be seen what transpires as the succession battles in ZANU-PF worsen and as Jonathan Moyo, once again, dangerously toys around with Zimbabwean journalists.

Zimbabwean journalists are being made to pay just because of their sheer presence. These people are intimidated by their simple existence.
The circus is streaming into town and it is not a laughing matter.
We are faced with strange bedfellows here: Robert Mugabe and Jonathan Moyo.
Whatever the outcome, I have no sympathy for Jonathan Moyo; none at all. And he knows why.
We used to cheer as Jonathan Moyo espoused the anger from within ourselves but we soon found out that he has misplaced ambitions and it is that which kills him.

Yes, he might rise again but if he does, Zimbabwe will only have itself to blame.
Robert Mugabe and Jonathan Moyo are clowns in the circus and the jokes are not funny.
The media in Zimbabwe is suffering and throughout the years, no one has done more damage to it than Jonathan Moyo.

It might be interesting to look at how many journalists have been arrested, disappeared, or killed during the lifespan of Jonathan Moyo’s stewardship and as a result of his POSA and AIPPA.
But, more importantly, of what benefit are both Mugabe and Moyo to Zimbabwe?


Read this week's paper