ZIMBABWE – President Robert Mugabe is irritated by reports of bitter divisions in the ruling Zanu PF party and his aides will soon come up with legislation to restrain errant behaviour in the local media.
Mugabes spokesperson George Charamba vented his boss annoyance in an interview with a state-owned weekly.
I meet the President every day. He is not even worried about those reports. He is irritated by them actually. You get a feeling of irritation not of concern, Charamba told the Sunday Mail.
He said there was too much fixation with his principals in the local media.
You can’t tell me that from day one to last day, it’s Mnangagwa this, Mnangagwa that, Grace Mugabe this, Grace Mugabe that, Kasukuwere this, Kasukuwere that “ from January to December, he said.
Is that the only reality in this world? It’s clear that this is now manipulative reporting. It’s no longer professional reporting.
Although Mugabe claimed factionalism in Zanu PF would end with the ouster of former vice president Joice Mujuru, bitter divisions remain over the succession of the party’s 91-year-old leader.
Ministers such as Jonathan Moyo and Patrick Zhuwao publicly and regularly attack vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa has also been savaged by Zhuwao and war veterans minister Chris Mustvangwa.
Mugabe’s wife Grace has also attacked the two vice presidents accusing them of being too eager for her husband’s job.
Grace also confirmed the existence of factions in the party during her Chimanimani rally last week.
Charamba however, said there were no divisions in the party and government, claiming reports of factions were an invention of the media.
Decisions in the party are done consensually. They are not done by factions because they don’t exist, he said.
Now what you are looking at are little editors who want to overreach. They think they can hurry past the President to put on the table a succession debate.
They think they can defeat Zanu PF on behalf of the opposition because they themselves have put themselves in the opposition camp.
Charamba claimed that opposition parties were also angry with the media, in a development that prepared the ground for cross-party consensus on tougher media regulation.
Now there is anger in the opposition against the private media and there is anger in the ruling party against the same, said the information ministry permanent secretary.
Now those two put together will give you the legislature, the law makers. What is more, as a civil servant, I have to make recommendations to the politicians, best practices.
He added: I will recommend most effective ways of controlling errant behaviour in the newsroom.
So you will have a piece of legislation that seeks to restrain rather than to enable media practices. Now it’s not in the long term interest of the media to begin to threaten political players.
There is a difference between watching them and threatening them. If you want to play your watchdog role, please do, but let your watching be founded.
Media freedom, Charamba added, is not an absolute right.
The media has to be free, but the media has to be professional. That’s the downside of it, that’s the trade-off. By the way, media freedom, press freedom is not an absolute right and we all know it.
And the key is that that freedom has to be earned. You can’t cry press freedom against the evidence of excesses.
There is no constitution that privileges political players and if you are in the media and you chose to leave the media desk to become an extension of publicity department of a political party, we treat you as a politician.
And please don’t cry wolf. Don’t feel unfairly treated when the hammer descends on you because wada mabrickbats yet you are staying in a glass house.