Moyo planted false stories in state media: Wikileaks

Zanu (PF) propaganda chief and former information minister Jonathan Moyo planted false stories in the state media to tarnish President Robert Mugabe’s opponents, an ex-Herald editor revealed in confidential discussions with US officials.

Jonathan Moyo
Jonathan Moyo

Former Herald editor Ray Mungoshi told the then Charge D’Affaires at the US Embassy, Earl Irving, during an hour-long meeting on 27 March 2001 that they would normally send ready-to-print stories to the paper and expect them to be “published without question or alteration”.

“He described one specific incident in which Moyo sent a story alleging that leading Zimbabwean businessman Strive Masiyiwa (Econet Cellular) was involved in illegal foreign exchange dealings,” said a leaked diplomatic cable about the meeting.

Mungoshi, who knew Masiyiwa and believed him to be an honest, law-abiding man, assigned two reporters to confirm the details of the story before publishing it.

The reporters found out that there was no basis for the story and Mungoshi refused to publish it.

“That decision prompted a barrage of verbal abuse from Moyo, who apparently told Mungoshi that he had no right to question any stories Moyo wished to have published in The Herald,” the cable said.

After the incident, Mungoshi said he became accustomed to finding stories in the newspaper that he had never seen before or approved.

He narrated how the acerbic Moyo would call him daily, usually around 6am, to complain about The Herald’s editorial content.

These calls would last for between 30 and 45 minutes and were often angry diatribes about the paper’s lack of support for the government.

Moyo also used these phone calls to tell Mungoshi what the next day’s editorial should be or what story he wanted to see on the front page.

Mungoshi’s editorship of the state-run paper lasted only seven months.

He was appointed on September 15, 2000 and was sacked on March 14, 2001.

He succeeded Bornwell Chakaodza who had been editor for two-and-half years and was also sacked by Moyo for trying to rebuild The Herald’s credibility after its biased coverage of the June 2000 parliamentary campaign and elections.

Post published in: News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *