28 March 2017

Zimbabwe: In Depth - Why Is Mugabe's Ex-Spin Doctor So Mad These Days?

Photo: Jonathan Moyo/Twitter
Minister Moyo Moyo rails against The Herald.

Who's a command liar then?

President Robert Mugabe's former spin-doctor Jonathan Moyo is engaged in an unseemly public battle with the state newspapers he once controlled so tightly.

The architect of Zimbabwe's unpopular press laws, Moyo on Sunday was forced to issue a statement following another attack on him by the Sunday Mail, the sister paper to the daily Herald.

The Sunday Mail accused Moyo, who is now the minister of higher education, of behaving like "an MDC activist" for criticising Zimbabwe's command agriculture programme when in fact he'd benefited from it, taking state-provided inputs for his wife's farming activities in Mashonaland Central province.

In his statement Moyo said his wife Betty "works very hard and honestly against untold adversities and I'm proud of her achievement given the odds she has to overcome".

The minister said insinuations that the farm was now going to be investigated for alleged abuse of state resources were "very satanic".

Zimbabwe launched its command agriculture scheme last year, helping a number of farmers with fertiliser and other inputs in a bid to make the country achieve food self-sufficiency.

At the heart of this quarrel is of course Zanu-PF's succession battle, the constant manoeuvring of two rival factions trying to position themselves to take power in the event of the 93-year-old Mugabe dying or stepping down. Moyo is part of the G40, which is rivalled by a faction led by Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa. This faction is nicknamed Lacoste.

Crucially, Lacoste has control over the state Zimpapers stable. It's "using" this to attack Moyo, who has the sympathies of some Zimbabweans on social media not least because of his unusual willingness to engage.

So angry was Moyo this week that he threatened to report Zimpapers to Google and Twitter for "routinely reporting fake news". In his statement he said ruling party officials who'd attacked him in the state newspapers were "command liars".

It's a far cry from the heady (at least for Moyo) days of 2000 to 2005 when as information minister he crafted AIPPA and controlled the anti-opposition, anti-Western message so evident in the pages of the Herald and the Sunday Mail.

As one Twitter user commented this week: "He will be victimised & vilified until the succession [question] is settled."

Remembering his past, not every Zimbabwe is sympathetic to Moyo now.

"Lest we 4get. Jonso started [the] evil eating him," tweeted @mmatigari.


More on This

No Amount of Vilification Will Intimidate Me to Move From Truth to Lies - Moyo

This statement is pursuant to the lead story in today's Sunday Mail headlined, "Prof Moyo benefited from Command Agric."… Read more »

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