Knives out for Jonathan Moyo

By Chengetai Zvauya, Senior Writer

Zanu PF spin doctor and serial political turncoat Jonathan Moyo’s future in the former ruling party hangs by the thread with top officials in the party baying for his blood saying he was destroying the organisation from within.

But President Robert Mugabe, who despite resistance from colleagues in the Zanu PF presidium, forced the controversial Moyo back into the politburo, is together with some members of the military, strongly defending him.

Webster Shamu and Jonathan Moyo.

That Mugabe is under pressure to expel Moyo from Zanu PF — for the second time in six years — became clearer at the party’s central committee meeting in Harare where the 87-year-old leader was forced to make a passionate appeal to spare him.

The Tsholotsho Member of Parliament is accused of coming up with dubious and sometimes chilling succession plots within Zanu PF including appearing to speak on behalf of the military in long winding articles in the state media.

Zanu PF officials, including vice Presidents Joice Mujuru and John Nkomo and other influential party officials, are said to be worried that Moyo, through his brutal attacks on regional leaders especially President Jacob Zuma of South Africa, has seen Sadc alienating Mugabe and Zanu PF.

The Daily News understands that some central committee and politburo members had approached the Zanu PF leadership, where they were reportedly pushing for Moyo’s ouster arguing that he was on a mission to destroy the party.

“We are shocked why President Mugabe could defend such a man. Firstly, he has caused serious divisions in the party because of his jumping from one corner to another seeking relevance and power.He is also causing problems for the party and right now Sadc leaders are always against us because of Moyo’s hate language against the likes of Zuma.

“This is a man who has said President Mugabe behaves like a cornered rat, he has said the President is too tired to rule this country and has accused our leader of being incoherent and disoriented.”

“He has accused President Mugabe of being a liar and yet he finds the courage to have a minister arrested for the same things. Nobody in the history of this country has attacked and insulted President Mugabe the way Jonathan (Moyo) did and the way he will do when he leaves Zanu PF.”

“Nobody, not even Tsvangirai has humiliated and embarrassed the president like this guy yet we are still being fooled that he is one of us. People must investigate who he is working for and what he wants to achieve,” said a top Zanu PF official.

Moyo was also accused by Mugabe in 2005 of plotting a coup against the veteran leader.

The Daily News understands that the Moyo issue was so hotly debated among members that when Mugabe got wind of it, he immediately launched an unprecedented defence of the party’s propagandist and ordered his people not to attack him in the media.

Mugabe particularly made reference to the Daily News story three weeks ago in which the party’s spokesperson Rugare Gumbo said Moyo was not allowed to speak on behalf of the party. Gumbo also said if Moyo wanted to be party spokesperson, he had to wait for the next congress.

In defending Moyo, Mugabe told his party’s central committee on Friday that senior party members should desist from making statements denouncing each other as it causes disharmony in the party.

“I was reading in the Press about the attacks that were made on Jonathan by our secretary for information and this should stop. We should criticise each other in our private meetings like the central committee not in the public because it is not good. I hope that you understand what I am telling you. Why do you continue to do that?” asked Mugabe.

“In our private meetings we can criticise each other but do not go out in the public and criticise your comrade. As Zanu PF members we must not do so, especially between ourselves as we are senior members of the party,’’ said Mugabe.

Mugabe said he had himself suffered the same ordeal from other Sadc presidents when he embarked on the land reform programme as he was being accused of destabilising the region.

“I remember very well that the late Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa verbally attacked me personally in public forums and when he said our country was a sinking titanic ship. I never responded to his statements but I waited until I had the opportunity to talk to him in our own private meeting and this was when I criticised him too,’’ said Mugabe.

Moyo has of late been denouncing Sadc leaders over their insistence on reforms in Zimbabwe and central committee members were left wondering whether Mugabe’s defence of Moyo meant that he endorsed his attacks on regional leaders.

Moyo has also been writing articles in the state-controlled media and commenting on national television defending the security service chiefs on their political statements.

He has also gone on a crusade intimidating and threatening private media journalists who have been reproducing his articles where he was heavily attacking Mugabe.

Moyo is known as a media hangman following his involvement in the crafting of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa) which was used to shut down the popular Daily News and Daily News on Sunday and other publications.

As Minister of Information, Moyo at one time publicly announced that the Daily News needed to be silenced and hours later, the newspaper’s printing press was bombed. Zanu PF sources say Moyo is also being touted to replace Webster Shamu as political commissar.

Some loyal Zanu PF officials told the Daily News at the central committee meeting that giving Moyo the critical position would be dangerous because they are not sure of his mission in the beleaguered party.

“Has the party forgotten that it was only in 2004 that he (Moyo) tried and failed to topple President Mugabe, together with members of his faction?

“When he was fired from Zanu PF he tried to join the MDC and demanded a very senior post but they refused and now he is back in Zanu PF causing commotion and division,” the source said.

Moyo’s commentaries of insulting and denigrating Sadc leaders and journalists are seen by Zanu PF officials as a way of seeking patronage with Mugabe and the army service chiefs. Nobody, not even Tsvangirai has humiliated and embarrassed the president like this guy yet we are still being fooled that he is one of us. Daily News