By Tichaona Sibanda
The ruling ZANU PF party is making a ‘sacrificial lamb’ out of the Sunday Mail editor Edmund Kudzayi while pursuing those allegedly linked to Information Minister Jonathan Moyo.
Kudzayi, 28, was appointed editor of the weekly newspaper by Moyo. Makusha Mugabe, editor of the online newspaper Change Zimbabwe.com, said the youthful scribe was being made a sacrificial lamb on a stage packed with politicians with skeletons in their past.
Mugabe told our weekly Speak Out Padare program that Kudzayi’s only crime was to fight in the corner of the faction allegedly led by Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Moyo is believed to be the mastermind behind this faction, and has on many occasions infuriated the other camp, led by Vice-President Joice Mujuru, by using the state media to undermine and denigrate party officials belonging to that faction.
‘Whether he’s Baba Jukwa or not, how many politicians in ZANU PF have done worse things than Kudzayi but have escaped punishment. Kudzayi is being targeted as a warning to other journalists, that you don’t mess with the Mujuru faction,’ Mugabe said.
Kudzayi becomes the first journalist from the state media to be arrested and charged with undermining the authority of the President, among other charges. He appeared in court on Monday charged with plotting to ‘subvert a constitutional government, attempted insurgency, banditry and terrorism.’
The Mujuru faction has on its side Didymus Mutasa, the Presidential Affairs Minister who is in charge of the Central Intelligence Organisation, Police Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri and ZANU PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo.
Both Gumbo and Chihuri are at odds with Mnangagwa over the role he played during the liberation war, when ZANU PF rebels, who were against President Robert Mugabe taking over the leadership of the party, were detained in Mozambique and spent years in prisons.
On Monday Gumbo denied that the party employed Kudzayi only saying he helped the ZANU PF propaganda and mobilisation unit ahead of and after the 2013 general elections as a volunteer.
Gumbo added that they did not give Kudzayi a contract of employment even though he did some work for them in the mobilisation team.
‘In fact, I hardly knew that boy. I met only once or twice and, to me, he was just one of the youths who had come to help the party on a voluntary basis. We have our procedures of recruiting people and none were applied on Kudzayi,’ said Gumbo in an interview with The Zimbabwean newspaper.
But in an article on NewZimbabwe.com, Kudzayi wrote about how he ‘joined Team ZANU PF’ saying: “In 2012 I launched an anonymous online personality (AmaiJukwa) that focused on Zimbabwean politics. At the time I was living in the United Kingdom running a media and software business. My decision to be anonymous was motivated by a desire to protect my business interests.
The articles were published on NewZimbabwe.com and soon attracted the attention of the State media in Zimbabwe. The Herald and the ZBC website began reproducing my articles from NewZimbabwe.com and publishing them on their platforms.
NewZimbabwe.com began to receive enquiries from Zanu PF as to my identity. They did not know who I was as we communicated via email and I was unwilling to reveal my identity.
In February 2013 I anonymously released a set of online election adverts in support of Zanu PF. There was a renewed interest in my identity by the Zanu PF information department.
At that time I was unwilling to directly engage for fear of compromising my business interests in the United Kingdom so I contacted an old friend Mike Nyambuya Jnr, the son of Major General Mike Nyambuya, and asked him to visit Zanu PF HQ as an intermediary and find out what they wanted.
He met Psychology Maziwisa the Zanu PF Deputy Director of Information who expressed an interest in engaging my media services in the development of election advertising material for Zanu PF. I agreed and was immediately put in contact with Maziwisa. A few weeks later I received a phone call from Rugare Gumbo expressing a keen interest in my work; I subsequently met him and was deployed to work with Team Zanu PF.
In June 2013 I returned to Zimbabwe and was introduced to Professor Jonathan Moyo who was heading the Team Zanu PF media team. I was tasked with producing Zanu PF’s radio and television campaign material.
It is at that time that I formally met The Herald editorial team. By that time they had already offered me a position as a contributor and I had been writing under Political Mondays with Amai Jukwa since February 2013.
After the elections I remained in the country and did consultancy work for the Ministry of Defence, ZiFM Stereo and some freelance work.
In early 2014 I was approached by Zimpapers and offered the position of Sunday Mail editor. I accepted in March and signed a contract in April. SW Radio Africa