via Threats on private media must be taken seriously – DailyNews Live 16 October 2015
HARARE – First Lady Grace Mugabe’s attack on the private media on Wednesday in Rushinga — which is clearly part of a disquieting attempt by Zanu PF officials to intimidate the independent media from exposing the raging factional wars in the ruling party — needs to be taken seriously.
The first lady’s emotional outburst against the private media should not be treated in isolation as it follows similar threats by President Robert Mugabe’s spokesperson George Charamba who ridiculously accused the private press of lying about the existence of factionalism in the post-congress Zanu PF.
The long-serving presidential spokesperson, who reportedly played a leading role in the enactment of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa), ominously revealed that should the private press maintain the status quo, the State would in response come up with some new media laws.
While Grace and Charamba view the issue of the factionalism ripping apart the former liberation movement differently, they both appear determined to make the private media conform to the old adage: “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil”.
At the Rushinga rally, an emotional Grace thundered that she was fed up with the private media which she alleged was writing “rubbish and silly” stories. She then prescribed what it would take for her to read privately-owned newspapers:
“Please, be constructive. I am not saying don’t criticise me, criticise me where I am wrong, but don’t just write silly things. We also want to read your papers but we are fed up, we can’t read them because you produce rubbish,” she said.
It would be interesting to hear from the influential first lady why reporting on the various factions battling to take over from her 91-year-old husband should be equated to “stooping low”.
The new Zanu PF strongwoman should also enlighten us why questioning the logic of Vice President Phekezela Mphoko, who is supposed to be the second most powerful in both government and the ruling party, should be the one to introduce her despite the fact that she is a mere Zanu PF women’s affairs secretary, should be deemed “rubbish and silly”.
Despite the fact that the State media lies most of the time at the behest of the ruling party, it is interesting to note that Grace, rather hypocritically, did not have anything bad to say about the publicly-owned media for obvious reasons.
We believe this tirade on the private media is in fact well-choreographed and the threats, therefore, must be taken seriously.