THE strong language by President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF towards Information, Broadcasting Services minister Jonathan Moyo has shocked political analysts who say it can easily lead to bloodshed.
Mugabe and Zanu PF secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa at the weekend led an astonishing attack against Moyo and a party faction allegedly led by Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa.
The open warfare reportedly started at the party’s politburo meeting last week where Moyo came under fire from the camp supporting Vice-President Joice Mujuru to succeed Mugabe.
They accused Moyo of using the State media to sow divisions in the party and fight factional battles.
Mugabe took the fight to the public sphere on Friday labelling Moyo a “devil incarnate” at a funeral wake for former Information minister Nathan Shamuyarira.
Mugabe followed up his verbal onslaught with another salvo directed at Moyo in a speech at the burial of Shamuyarira at the National Heroes’ Acre in Harare on Saturday.
He said Zanu PF had been infiltrated and there were weevils working to destroy the party from within.
Not to be outdone, while addressing party youth in Mutare on Sunday, Mutasa who is also Presidential Affairs minister, urged Zanu PF members to use “gamatox” to kill the weevils.
Analysts said they were worried by the amount of hate speech in the Zanu PF succession war.
They said Mutasa’s statements could easily be interpreted to mean that the party’s youths should physically harm Moyo.
Charles Mangongera, an independent human rights and governance researcher, said the tirade showed that Mugabe was out of touch with reality and the mood of the Zimbabwean citizenry.
He said Mugabe was vilifying Moyo who was trying to build national consensus across the political divide, which has been a missing link in the country’s politics.
“Never mind his antagonistic past with the media, many Zimbabweans view Moyo’s anti-corruption crusade as a breath of fresh air,” he said.
“Is it not ironic that Mugabe is rebuking Moyo for hiring ‘MDC journalists’ when he was in a power—sharing government with the MDC for nearly five years?
“Mugabe has failed to rise above factional politics and this will only widen the fissures in his own party.”
Zimbabwe Civic Education Trust director Gladys Hlatywayo said there was need for politicians to revisit ways they relate to each other.
“The way our political leaders relate to each other, whether in intra or inter—party dynamics needs serious revisiting for it is such derogatory language that would ferment hate that leads to violence,” she said.
“I long for an era in our politics where people agree to disagree respectfully and where facts and sense are treasured more than emotions.”
Another analyst Rashweat Mukundu said it was typical of Zanu PF language to peddle hate language and often label opponents as pests that must be wiped off. “If Zanu PF can do this to a fellow member and senior official, one wonders how far they can go in dealing with opponents.
“This has been the Zanu PF language from the ’80s,” he said.
Habakkuk Trust chief executive officer Dumisani Nkomo said the statements might not necessarily compromise Moyo’s life, but his political future.
“Generally such rhetoric sets the pace for political action.
“Ironically, Moyo used the same language on Zanu PF political opponents before,” Nkomo said.
“It could affect his political life in the context of factional fights. The battle is bigger in the party factional wars.”
At the height of the Gukurahundi massacres, Mugabe said Zapu and its leader Joshua Nkomo were “like a cobra in a house.
“The only way to deal effectively with a snake is to strike and destroy its head,”he said.
This rhetoric only served to further escalate an already tense situation resulting in an increase in the gruesomeness of the killings perpetrated by the North Korean—trained 5 Brigade on perceived Zapu supporters whom they viewed as literal snakes.Mugabe has also previously said there was a need to “strike fear in the heart of the whitemen”.
He also attacked members of opposition parties and boasted Zanu PF had degrees in violence.
His statements were followed by intimidation, violence and murder of white farmers, their workers as well as opposition party supporters as the country descended into barbarism and an economic crisis since the turn of the millennium.