Moyo’s nine lives

President Robert Mugabe surprised the nation when he appointed Jonathan Moyo to head the media ministry once again. Perhaps the biggest shock comes from the fact that the former Tsholotsho legislator is one of a few Zanu (PF) candidates who lost a seat in the July 31 elections.

Professor Jonathan Moyo was recently appointed as head of the media ministry.
Professor Jonathan Moyo was recently appointed as head of the media ministry.

As journalists waited to be frisked by state security agents at Mugabe’s residence on the day he announced his Cabinet, none expected to see the former academic appointed to a national post.

In his 1990 study of electoral processes in Zimbabwe, findings of which were later published in a book, Voting for Democracy, Moyo strongly criticised Mugabe and Zanu (PF) for manipulating the vote.

The new Moyo

10 years later, Moyo is a different person, speaking glowingly in support of Zanu (PF). He was drafted into a government-led constitution-making commission as its spokesperson. He was rewarded with a ministerial post after the 2000 parliamentary election. As Information Minister in what was then known as a war cabinet, Moyo was instrumental in causing radical changes to the Zimbabwean media, from the harassment and prosecution of journalists at privately-owned companies to interfering with entire state media news agenda.

Furthermore, he presided over the crafting of new legislation to control the practice of journalism, including the introduction of stringent rules governing the operations of media houses.


Then followed the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act and the Public Order and Security Act described as two of the most obnoxious pieces of legislation this country had ever seen.

Former Zanu (PF) legal secretary and liberation war hero, Edison Zvobgo, then Portfolio Chairman of the Parliamentary Legal Committee, said he had been shocked by AIPPA in its original state.

“I can say without equivocation that this Bill, in its original form, was the most calculated and determined assault on our liberties guaranteed by the Constitution, in the 20 years I served as Cabinet minister,” he said.

A palace coup

When the Daily News was bombed and subsequently banned, Moyo said the newspaper was a victim of rule of law.

In the run-up to the Zanu (PF) congress in 2004, Moyo was accused of plotting a “palace coup” to topple Mugabe. At a meeting in Tsholotsho, Moyo and others were accused of trying to push Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa to the position of Zanu (PF) vice president.

In the ensuing fall-out Moyo was fired from his post as a minister as well as from Zanu (PF). He then stood and won as an independent candidate in Tsholotsho.

Moyo once again turned critic of Mugabe, saying the former guerrilla leader would lose to a donkey in an election. Journalists who worked under him describe him as a workaholic who expects nothing less from his subordinates.

During the 2008 election, Moyo said: “Mugabe’s continued stay in office has become an excessive burden to the welfare of the state and such a fatal danger to the public interest of Zimbabweans at home and in the Diaspora”.

However, Moyo is back and ready “to hit the ground running” in a Zanu (PF)-led government.

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