Laughable to blame media for Mnangagwa office break-in

via Laughable to blame media for Mnangagwa office break-in – NewsDay Zimbabwe January 15, 2016

IS Acting President Emmerson Mnangagwa becoming a “serial” victim of break-ins following another raid at his office this week?

By Conway Tutani

Or are these calculated political stunts to project him as a victim to rouse anger against his rivals — and there are many from all sides in Zanu PF — and sympathy for him to ride on in his quest to succeed President Robert Mugabe? Such stage-managing and trickery is not beyond them because Zanu PF are not only masters at destruction, but also distraction. They take your attention away from pressing issues, preventing you from seeing the hardships they have caused by destroying the economy through bad governance and corruption.

For those not in the know, this was the sixth recorded time for the office of the Vice-President to be broken into and this in a supposedly high security area, pointing to an inside job.

And after investigations had barely started, Information minister Chris Mushohwe said: “We are concerned because this . . . looks like it is the climax of the persistent negative media reports on the person of the Acting President that we are witnessing from certain sections of the media . . . we get persuaded to think that all those stories were a build-up to this kind of mischief.”

I think Mushohwe is giving the private media more credit than it deserves and more influence than it has. Or has he been reading too much in the straightforward and highly accurate reports in the private media about the raging faction wars in Zanu PF since 2014 when First Lady Grace Mugabe made a noisy and destabilising entry into politics? She raised the ante to unimaginable and frightening proportions. Her entry had the effect of increasing what was at stake, worsening the conflicts and fights within Zanu PF. There has been no respite since then. That’s why State security had to be roped in to pre-empt intra-party violence at the Zanu PF conference at Victoria Falls last month.

That’s how grave the situation in the ruling party is now. The huge cracks cannot be papered over. Simply put: Zanu PF is at war with itself with or without the egging of the private media. In fact, the private media is thriving from these fissures in that those factionalists — including those from Mnangagwa’s camp — denied fair coverage or blacked out by the State media have turned to the private media to give their side of the events, providing intimate and accurate details about Who? What? When?
Where? Why? How? The whole saga — with no end in sight — has been good for business in the private media through increased sales because the stories are not only accurate, but most captivating.

Mugabe himself pointed out this unnerving state of affairs where party secrets — or supposed ones — make their way into the private media. But, ironically, is of his own creation by, one, not having a succession plan, thus leaving everyone hedging their bets, that is, reducing the risk of completely losing out through keeping one’s options open by moving from faction to faction as and when it suits them (Jonathan Moyo-style). We now see people in Zanu PF protecting themselves against loss of position by supporting more than one faction or both or all sides in these faction wars. Two, Mugabe, by favouring some factions over others, has left them with no choice, but to turn to the private media to be heard. And, three, the State media, understandably, cannot go for the jugular because losing your job is scary in these worst of times. So, naturally there is self-censorship. They have to seem to be politically correct by being seen to be on the side of officialdom. I salute my colleagues in the State media for the way they have been able to navigate the stormy waters.

The result is that heightened intrigue is now the name of the game. And, much — in fact, most — of the blame lies squarely on Mugabe himself, but then Mugabe is untouchable and uncriticisable in Zanu PF. No one says no to him. Doing that would be the worst ever mistake one could make — and Mushohwe and others like him know this very, very much.

With the faction wars dangerously escalating in the ruling party, the dirty tricks department in Zanu PF is at full throttle with threats of violence and actual violence carried out. Last year, several Zanu PF MPs received death threats through calls and text messages on their cellphones warning them to ditch their factions.

As if that was not enough, I — maybe other journalists too — also received threatening calls for writing about this most topical issue of raging faction wars in Zanu PF. The numbers through which the calls came were as follows: (purportedly from Gambia on August 30, 2015); (“Tunisia”, August 20, 2015); and (“Iraq”, July 14, 2015). Only professionals at the game — like those who broke into Mnangagwa’s office — were behind the threats.

So, blaming journalists for having a hand in the break-in at Mnangagwa’s office is irrational and ridiculous, to say the least.
It’s the other way round: Factionalism plays into the hands of the private media. It’s grist for the mill. Relevance has not been higher than this. Business has not been better than this.

lConway Nkumbuzo Tutani is a Harare-based columnist. Email: