Mugabe surrounded by weevils

President Robert Mugabe, while burying Nathan Shamuyarira last week, launched a fierce verbal attack on Jonathan Moyo for using the public media to fight his own war and destabilise Zanu (PF).

Tawanda Majoni
Tawanda Majoni

He is peeved that his information minister has removed some journalists from Zimpapers and replaced them with his buddies, and livid that Moyo had the audacity to hire a scribe who used to work in the MDC communications structures. The president, as he said in his own words, cannot stomach the fact that Moyo is causing mayhem in his party by manipulating news content and using it to assassinate his political rivals.

No person must manipulate the media, especially the public media that must work to promote the public interest. This is the only place where I agree with the Old Man. I would never condone anyone who uses his privileged position as a cabinet minister to commit acres of print space to fighting parochial wars against actual and perceived enemies.

A minister who does that deserves to be sacked without any further questions being asked and I would throw the first stone against him.

But while Mugabe has a good point in lambasting the manipulation of the public media, he is also being hypocritical. What goes for the goose must surely go for the gander. From the onset, it is clear that the president’s conception of media abuse is partisan. He is seeing the wrong that Moyo is said to be doing because he feels it is affecting his party. It follows that if the party was not negatively affected, he would not open his mouth to complain. That does not make Moyo a worse sinner than him, does it?

Over the years, particularly since 1999, the public media has been used by Mugabe and Zanu (PF) to harm other people—rival politicians, perceived enemies and innocent private citizens. The Herald, Sunday Mail, the Chronicle, ZBC and other public media have all run stories that have fatally injured personalities and institutions. Because Zanu (PF) was not affected, Mugabe kept quiet. If anything, he praised them for their poisonous content.

Who does not know of the celebratory party thrown at Zimpapers after the 2013 general elections, when journalists were thanked for the role they played before, during and after the polls in propping up Zanu (PF)? That role, of course, included writing malicious, vitriolic and in many cases highly defamatory stuff against perceived political enemies of the party. Why did Mugabe not complain about that?

Jonathan Moyo might be the devil incarnate and a weevil at the same time, but where does that put Mugabe? He is one who hired him in the first place, and for a purpose. Why is he seeing his black spots only now? In any case, what is so new about Zanu (PF) members fighting factional wars and battles? The only difference is that some have not used the media, but other, equally evil, means.

Character assassination is the Zanu (PF) totem, its identity and Mugabe himself is a past master at the game. Remember, last year he publicly accused Goodwills Masimirembwa, the former Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation chair, of being a multi-million dollar thief – only to reverse that later. If that is not character assassination, what then is?

Moyo has been condemned as a weevil for using a visible tool—the media—to worm his way to the top, but the Old Man ought to be reminded that almost every person who surrounds him is a weevil too. His lieutenants have been siphoning off millions of dollars meant for development project.

They have been stealing from refugees at Chingwizi and manipulating every tender for fat kickbacks. They have eaten almost all the grain in the silo and that is why Zimbabweans are starving and the economy is almost destroyed. Those other weevils have invaded conservancies and farms. They also talk behind his back. He should be equally concerned about them and talk loudly against them if he wants us to take him seriously.

The public media it is supposed to report and broadcast in a non-partisan way and should benefit all Zimbabweans. No-one must abuse it. For as long as the Old Man is content with one form of abuse, he is as guilty as all the others. – To comment on this article, please contact [email protected]

Post published in: Analysis

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