ZANU PF has threatened to unleash “the party security machine” to crush local non-governmental organisations, private media and pirate radio stations which it accuses of working in cahoots with Western countries to push for change of government.
This comes as Information minister Chris Mushohwe announced last week that there would be a media retreat in January to media retreat in January to discuss a new media policy. Zanu PF in its Central Committee report tabled by President Robert Mugabe at the just-ended last week Zanu PF conference held in Victoria Falls claimed the British government and its allies were working with local non-governmental organisations, private media and pirate radio stations to facilitate regime change.
The threats by Zanu PF come as the private media has been under a barrage of attacks by Mugabe, his wife Grace and government officials over the last months.
In September when Mugabe read a wrong speech during the official opening of parliament, he vented his anger on the private media, threatening unspecified action.
Presidential spokesperson George Charamba threatened that more stringent laws could be introduced to bring private media into line because of its reportage on factionalism and the First Family.
Initially Grace in one of her rallies in Rushinga, threatened private media of fanning factionalism and described reports in the private media as “rubbish and silly.” However, at a rally in Masvingo, she seemed to tone down her attacks, saying the private media journalists were only doing their job. Of late she has been supportive to journalits.
The Central Committee report recommended the close monitoring of local NGOs, as well as the private media which it alleged was being used by the Western countries to label Zanu PF supporters “as rogues who abuse human rights”.
“This mantra is daily churned out by the Western media in collusion with the local private media. The private media and pirate radio stations are used to spread falsehoods. The party should, therefore remain vigilant and implement appropriate strategies to protect Zimbabwe. Activities of non-governmental organisations should also be monitored as they continue to represent the interests of the West,” reads the report.
The report also said the Western powers, specifically Britain, the United States and European Union continued “to harbour the ever elusive ambition agenda of regime change. The local opposition parties are also dancing to the tune of our detractors”.
“The machinations of the West to undemocratically unseat Zanu PF will continue. The party security machine should be ready to deal decisively with those that are bent on subverting our hard won independence and sovereignty,” read the report.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe National Editors Forum (Zinef) at a workshop held over the weekend in Kadoma on unpacking the Information and Media Panel of Inquiry report said they will engage government at the retreat on three priority areas, namely media law reform, training and gender issues.
The editors noted the following as an ideal media environment; self-regulation of the media, decriminalisation of journalism, repeal of repressive legislation, empowered and well paid journalists, vibrant community and converged media as well as creating employment.
The editors also think emphasis should be put on re-alignment of laws that deal with the media with the new constitution, private ownership of the media with guarantees of editorial independence, democratically appointed public broadcasting boards, safe working environment for journalists, fair treatment of journalists and gender equity in the media — all equal opportunities, among many other important issues.