29 August 2014

Zimbabwe: Zanu-PF Gag Order Ill-Advised


YESTERDAY The Herald and the NewsDay carried similar headlines about gag orders issued by some leaders of Zanu-PF and the MDC-T barring party members from disclosing party matters to the media.

While political parties are deemed private clubs, the privacy does not hold for a governing party like Zanu-PF because the millions of voters who gave the party the mandate to preside over the affairs of the nation deserve to know what will be happening in the party particularly when the events have a bearing on the party's ability to deliver on its election promises.

This is why the gag order issued by national chairman Cde Simon Khaya Moyo to the party's 10 provincial chairpersons and their executives against discussing party matters in the media is as surprising as it is regrettable.

Equally surprising is the gag order concerning First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe whose entry into politics is a tale of political best practice.

The First Lady was approached by the Women's League to assume leadership. The incumbent Women's League chairperson Cde Oppah Muchinguri was part of that process as she is voluntarily making way for the First Lady to assume the reins, Zanu-PF's two constitutional organs, the Women's League and the Youth League Conferences both endorsed the First Lady whose ascendancy was officialised at the Women's League Conference. To all intents and purposes, Amai Mugabe now just awaits appointment by First Secretary and President Cde Mugabe to take her seat in the Politburo.

The First Lady's story, when read against the shenanigans that afflicted the youth conference where six provincial chairpersons and several senior Politburo members, among them the three who convened the gag meetings on Wednesday, is a story that deserves to be told rather than kept under a bushel.

And a cursory look of the coverage of the story across the board will reveal that it is a story the media have been covering positively barring a few mischievous elements who tried to cast it in dynastic terms while turning a blind eye to several political families not only in Zanu-PF but even in the opposition MDC.

Thus to suggest that the only positive story emanating from the chaos that characterised last year's provincial elections and the youths indaba not be told smacks of a sinister agenda, which at best can be read as an attempt to stop the First Lady's trajectory, at worst as an attempt to keep nefarious plots from the public eye.

Whatever the motives for the gag order, the reasons detailed in the Press statement by the national chairman were far from convincing.

What is more, while the decision by the national chairman and national political commissar, as well as secretary for administration to summon the party outside constitutional structures like the Central Committee or Politburo might have been well intentioned, it was ill advised given what is happening in the party right now.

We say so for the following reasons;

Firstly the trio have openly declared their interests as candidates at the elective Congress, and since the events of the past few weeks all have a bearing on that Congress, the meetings they convened smacked of personal interests.

Secondly, the trio were part of the party chefs who, along with six provincial chairpersons, were implicated in the vote buying and manipulation that marred the Youth League Conference, as such they effectively convened the meetings with dirty hands.

Last but not least, for the period people are aspirants for public office, they should be wary of what they say and do.

To summon the party like the three did on Wednesday, one would either have been delegated by the Presidents and First Secretary or be acting at the instance of constitutional bodies like the Politburo and the Central Committee. This was not the case when Cdes Khaya Moyo, Webster Shamu and Didymus Mutasa met provincial chairpersons and secretaries for administration on Wednesday.

A lot of negative things are happening in the provinces as people jostle for positions ahead of the elective Congress set for December, there were reports of abductions, beatings, suspensions and purges of rivals.

All these issues do not only interest the public but are in the public interest for the media to report on. As such on the gag order, the three Comrades were offside.

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