via State media feel heat of Zanu PF factionalism – DailyNews Live 9 September 2014
HARARE – State media, including the beleaguered Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) and Zimpapers titles such as The Herald and the Sunday Mail, are reeling from worsening infighting within Zanu PF.
Staff members at the media houses confirmed to the Daily News yesterday that they were increasingly being sucked into the deadly factional fights, with negative consequences for the balance and integrity of news content delivered by the organisations.
A senior Zimpapers staffer who asked not to be named fearing victimisation said editorial members within the stable were “routinely either being lobbied aggressively or being threatened blatantly” to side with one or the other Zanu PF faction fighting for control of the party.
“We are caught between the proverbial rock and hard place where we cannot win either way as this brutal war pits comrades against other comrades. This is definitely a new and traumatic experience in this propaganda war for many of us as we were used to a situation where it was Zanu PF versus the rest, not this.
“The situation is now so bad that many senior people here (at Zimpapers) would leave if they had economic choices. But then where does one go in this market, even after the traumatic (Edmund) Kudzayi episode?” he asked rhetorically.
Kudzayi is the Sunday Mail editor who has been sensationally fingered by the State as one of the brains behind the once popular and faceless Facebook phenomenon, Baba Jukwa, that wreaked havoc within Zanu PF ahead of last year’s harmonised elections. His case is before the courts and he is out on bail.
A ZBC employee who also requested anonymity said fear and interference with news processes, which had traditionally been seen as bad at Pockets Hill, had moved a notch up since Zanu PF’s disputed victory in last year’s national polls.
“The situation is insane here. It is bad enough that we do not have the resources to do our job anyway, but this factionalism within the party (Zanu PF) has made things 10 times worse, and virtually all senior party leaders are players in this game.
“At the moment, no one trusts anyone here, and no one seems to know what should be done and how on a day to day basis.
“Unfortunately, this is creating terrible paralysis and impacting negatively on news content.
“As you know, a senior editorial member was recently put on suspension on spurious grounds when the real reason had everything to do with factionalism inside Zanu PF. Somebody either in government or in the party has to do something urgently before all State media collapse completely,” he said.
As a way of trying to deal with the factionalism, The Herald ran a front page story on this and also mounted a spirited defence of itself in an unusual comment in its edition yesterday.
The newspaper, now viewed by many within Zanu PF itself as the heartbeat of the State propaganda machinery, even quoted party spokesperson Rugare Gumbo openly admonishing the daily for trying to blame the independent media for the chaos wracking Zanu PF.
“First look in your own eye because you are the first culprits to violate that Politburo resolution,” Gumbo told the paper.
“After I have briefed you that the Politburo resolved that the national chairman (Cde Simon Khaya Moyo) was directed to deal with the suspension of youth leaders, you went on to quote your sources in the Politburo saying the national chairman was directed to reverse the suspensions.
“Why (then) do you think it is wrong for others to quote sources yet you are doing the same?” The Herald further quoted Gumbo saying.
Gumbo also pointedly rebuked The Herald in the story saying that as the party’s spokesperson, there was nothing wrong with him giving comments to private media houses, as long as he was defending the party and the president.
“I am the spokesperson of the party,” he said. “If I say something to the private papers denigrating the party and the president then that is wrong, but if I am defending the party and the president what is wrong about that?”
“Depolarisation requires me to talk to everybody provided that I am toeing the party line,” he said.
The move has drawn howls of protests from a variety of media quarters . The Zimbabwe Chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa-Zimbabwe) said it was a reason for serious concern if media freedom is subject to control of its content.
The move amounts to the creation of a censorship authority and Zimbabwe was moving backward toward a communist surveillance dictatorship.
“We strongly condemn this, especially in this new constitutional dispensation,” Misa Zimbabwe national director Nhlanhla Ngwenya said.
“It sets a dangerous precedent. The pronouncement is ultra vires the new Constitution and all freedoms guaranteed to all Zimbabweans, including Zanu PF officials. We cant live in information darkness.”
Brian Mangwende, the Zimbabwe National Editors Forum chairman said: “Every citizen has a right to impart, disseminate and receive information as long as it does not threaten the national security of the country. So if anybody is trying to gag the press, private or public that will be folly of them.”