Zanu PF yesterday refused to comment on Information, Media and Broadcasting Services minister Jonathan Moyo’s fate after President Robert Mugabe launched a vicious attack against the party’s strategist.
Mugabe reportedly first attacked Moyo at a politburo meeting on Thursday before labelling him “a devil incarnate” at a funeral wake for former Information minister Nathan Shamuyarira the following day.
At Shamuyarira’s burial at the Heroes’ Acre in Harare on Saturday, the Zanu PF leader went a gear up and spoke of weevils that have infiltrated Zanu PF.
Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo said he could not comment on Moyo’s future both in the government and the party because it was a “personal matter”.
But political analysts said Moyo, who has been a victim of Mugabe’s acerbic attacks as minister before, faced two tough options — either to resign or stick it out and become a lame duck minister.
“The attacks show that Mugabe is really angry with Moyo,” said an analyst who preferred to remain anonymous. “Mugabe attacked Moyo three times last week and clearly there is a deeper problem than the deployment of journalists in the State media.
“Mugabe is only giving us snippets of the story, like he did with the Tsholotsho Declaration before he moved against Moyo.
“After being called a devil incarnate in public by the president Moyo either has to resign and become a hero or seek audience with Mugabe to explain his side of the story. If he decides to stay on as minister, he will be a lame duck.”
Mugabe fired Moyo as Information minister in 2005 after he was accused of mobilising Zanu PF structures to back Justice minister Emerson Mnangagwa for the post of vice-president ahead of Joice Mujuru. Moyo bounced back as minister last year after winning two successive elections in Tsholotsho as an independent candidate.
The professor had lost last years elections in Tsholotsho North but Mugabe brought him back against all odds.
He returned as a reformist, building bridges, and criticised Zanu PF hardliners and the police each time they trampled on the rights of journalists.
Moyo has also made radical changes at Zimpapers and ZBC where he also encouraged robust journalism, especially with the coverage of the salary scandal that rocked State-owned companies early this year.
The minister this time around is likely to get more sympathisers compared to 2005 where he was loathed for his handling of the private media.
Media academic Pedzisai Ruhanya said Mugabe’s public attack on Moyo was distasteful.
He said the veteran leader should be grateful for the hard work the minister has put in for Zanu PF and the president to win the July 31 2013 elections. Ruhanya said Mugabe should be applauding Moyo’s efforts to confront issues in a transparent manner.
“The attacks are disgusting coming from a man whose party and personal political career have been saved by Moyo,” he said.
“I have seen a lot of celebratory comments by some equally misguided social commentators when we should actually condemn Mugabe for hate speech against Moyo. Whatever Mugabe does is immaterial.”
Ruhanya said Mugabe was now too old and no longer fit to lead Zimbabwe to prosperity.
“At least Moyo was doing better by realising and accepting some of his previous bad media policies and seeking to rectify them,” he said.
“I hope that when Mugabe settles down and comes back to his better self, Moyo will remain in charge. People should understand that the national problem is Zanu PF and Mugabe’s policies and not Moyo.” He said any focus on Moyo by the public would be hugely misguided.
“It is actually Mugabe and his system that are national evils and not Moyo,” Ruhanya said.
“Anyone who invests hope in a 90-year-old man should not be taken seriously.”
Mugabe accused Moyo of using the State media to sow divisions in Zanu PF, which is in the throes of a bitter war to succeed him at the helm of the party and country.
The veteran ruler has in the past praised Moyo as a hard worker and strategist.