Zipped when we should be speaking loudest

HARARE - The combination of upcoming, potentially watershed elections and deadly infighting within the ruling Zanu PF party should make for exciting times for journalists. Not in Zimbabwe.

At a time when news reporting should be at its most exciting, the trade has become a hazard as powerful and wealthy politicians sharpen the tools to muzzle the media.

The worsening succession wars in Zanu PF have dominated the media in recent times. This is understandable. President Robert Mugabe’s party is in charge of the country, or so we would like to think.

The media is naturally interested in these power dynamics within the ruling party, and even more so concerned when the internecine squabbles come at the expense of service delivery

Zanu PF campaigned in 2013 on the back of a promise to create two million jobs. For some of us, the debilitating effects of Zanu PF’s factional fights on the economy have always been palpable. And we have not shied from saying it.

For the better part of the last five years, the Daily News consistently and accurately reported on the divisions in Zanu PF. We have always warned about the effects of such intense focus on succession rather than on our economy.

In keeping with the Daily News motto; “Telling it like it is. Without fear. Without favour” we have been on the money on issues to do with factionalism.

From the time former vice president Joice Mujuru was ousted, through to the current Generation 40 (a grouping of young Turks in Zanu PF who are rooting for Defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi to succeed Mugabe) and Team Lacoste (reportedly fronting Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa to take over from Mugabe), we have reported the story without fear or favour.

With only a few months to the next election — one that could make or break Zimbabwe’s future — it is time journalists intensified their efforts to expose the rot by telling the real story unfolding in our country.

Why is it that some elements of the party who were at the forefront of ensuring Mugabe’s re-election in 2013 and endorsement for 2018 despite being fully aware of his age, are now clamouring for his ouster. Oft-times they use fronts to vent their message that Mugabe should go?

This is the time for journalists to question the mentality of those people, to ask them tough questions on why they want Mugabe out now even though they elected him to lead Zanu PF until 2019.

Yes, Mugabe is old and must retire. But that doesn’t make those who want him to retire saints.

If some in Zanu PF want him out now, as one of the factions in Zanu PF so badly desires, then they should do so legally and through constitutional means.

Alas, journalists seem to be now under siege. Daily, they are being silenced so that they do not report the truth about what is really happening in the vicious Zanu PF succession wars.

As before, the regime’s strategy is simple. Arrests and intimidation are tools of choice.

Journalism is under serious threat from those that are seeking to remove Mugabe from power and sadly it has been difficult to expose these shenanigans because of a climate of fear.

It is clear that the people who are gunning for power from Mugabe are busy capturing the media though various unscrupulous means so that they report only their side and again this is a threat to democracy.

Are we not supposed to report the evils of grabbing power illegally from an elected president, I wonder? Don’t misunderstand me, even Mugabe and most Zanu PF officials have openly confirmed that there are attempts to illegally grab power from the nonagenarian.

It was going to be easy to appeal to the minister of Information Chris Mushowe to stop his colleagues from capturing the media and from using brute and inhuman tactics to silence journalists. The day shall come when we will be able to expose all this in detail.

I have been threatened physically many times in the past few months by people I don’t know.

Twice my car had wheel nuts removed (police are still investigating this) but I’ll continue telling it like it is without fear, without favour.

I therefore appeal to Mugabe to help us the media from being captured by vultures who seek to remove him from power and I also appeal to media colleagues who are acting as moles in all media rooms in the country to STOP IT to use the phrase made popular by First Lady Grace Mugabe.

For now, I rest my case.

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