Jonathan Moyo bounces back

Information minister Jonathan Moyo

POLITICAL science professor Jonathan Moyo yesterday bounced back as Information minister eight years after he lost the post, a development media freedom lobby groups fear is retrogressive and points to a bleak future for the fraternity.

Nqobile Bhebhe

Before the July 31 elections, President Robert Mugabe had said he would not appoint anyone who lost in the polls to a Cabinet post, but yesterday he plucked Moyo from near political oblivion to one of the powerful government posts.

Moyo lost to Roselene Nkomo (MDC-T), but has since challenged his defeat, pleading with the courts to order a recount within two months.

Asked what reforms he had up his sleeve after his appointment, Moyo quipped: “How can I reform something that has not been deformed?”

Media Institute of Southern Africa Zimbabwe Chapter director Nhlanhla Ngwenya said he feared all gains the media sector had recorded, in terms of freedom of expression, would be eroded.

“It’s a sad and depressing appointment,” he lamented.

“Moyo’s history in that ministry, of him being perceived as not being media-friendly, is well documented and it shows that Zanu PF is not committed to media reforms.

“Therefore, it points to a period of media stagnation. The media reforms we were hoping for have been shattered. We thought a media-friendly person would be handed the portfolio, but we hope the time in the wilderness might have transformed him.”

Moyo lost the ministry after his involvement in the so-called Tsholotsho declaration, where he and other senior Zanu PF members were accused of planning to torpedo the appointment of Joice Mujuru to the Vice-Presidency post.

Zimbabwe Union of Journalists secretary-general Foster Dongozi, however, said Moyo’s appointment should be cautiously treated as Zanu PF might present a different face to the media.

“We cautiously welcome Moyo’s appointment,” he said. “I don’t think Moyo will revert to his previous actions. Zanu PF is on a rebranding exercise and through Moyo, it might surprise us and present a new face.

“There could also be something that Mugabe admired in him, especially how he handled perceived ‘wayward media houses’.”

After being expelled from Zanu PF, Moyo contested elections twice as an independent, before rejoining the party in 2009 and being roped into the politburo.

Mugabe seconded Moyo to some of the toughest jobs during the tenure of the inclusive government, including representing Zanu PF in Copac and the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee.