PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe lambasted his embattled Information minister Jonathan Moyo during a closed central committee meeting on Wednesday which marked the opening of the
ruling party’s congress.
Sources at the meeting said Mugabe attacked Moyo when he briefed the central committee about what transpired at the politburo session on Tuesday. The central committee is Zanu PF’s decision-making body whose administrative organ is the politburo.
The sources said Mugabe noted Moyo was guilty and would be punished for organising the “illegal” Tsholotsho meeting at which a Zanu PF faction — reportedly led by the secretary for administration Emmerson Mnangagwa — came together to plot a palace coup against the party leader-ship.
In his keynote address to congress yesterday Mugabe warned against “wayward” behaviour by his subordinates.
He denounced those who allow their “ambitions to mislead them” and who “depart from agreed democratic decisions”. He said party officials must adhere to the party’s rules and regulations.
This followed the suspension of six provincial leaders this week and a reprimand of the once all-powerful Information minister.
Moyo — who was yesterday tucked away among the party’s rank and file in the terraces in the auditorium of the Harare International Conference Centre — looked glum as Mugabe bellowed from the podium.
Mugabe’s first vice-president Joseph Msika also took a swipe at indisciplined party officials, saying they need to know Zanu PF’s constitution, policy and regulations to qualify to be “cadres”.
Zanu PF chairman John Nkomo also spoke about creeping insubordination, reflecting the old guard’s rapidly evaporating patience with officials like Moyo. Nkomo said “appropriate sanctions” would be taken against indisciplined officials.
The sources said Mugabe on Wednesday said whatever the good things Moyo had done now counted for nothing after the Tsholotsho meeting which has resulted in six party provincial chairmen and war veterans’ leader Jabulani Sibanda being suspended. Last week Mugabe said Tsholotsho was now synonymous “with good and evil”. He questioned Moyo’s avalanche of “donations” now seen as vote-buying tactics.
Mugabe’s withering attack on Moyo followed similar criticism against the voluble minister during the politburo meeting on Tuesday. Moyo was reprimanded at the meeting although his fate still remains uncertain.
Zanu PF is expected to revisit Moyo’s case after congress to take further measures against him. A dossier on Moyo’s catalogue of “misdeeds” is said to have been compiled and would be used against him.
Moyo launched a spirited defence of his position in the politburo, claiming the Tsholotsho meeting was a “mere speech and prize-giving ceremony”.
He also claimed in a report to Mnangagwa, copied to Mugabe, Msika and Nkomo, that allegations against him were “ugly lies” and “pure fiction”.
He said allegations of a “Tsholotsho Declaration” were “so vicious and brutal that its effects are morally equivalent to those of false claims by American and British intelligence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction when it did not”.
However, party officials were said to have told him that his explanations did not wash. Politburo heavyweights Dumiso Dabengwa and Sikhanyiso Ndlovu were understood to have told Moyo that he was simply unconvincing. Dabengwa is said to have indicated that Moyo’s claims were an insult to the party leadership’s intelligence.
Mugabe, who said last week that those who organised and attended the Tsholotsho meeting were guilty, was said to have been unconvinced by his combative spin-doctor’s explanations.
This leaves Moyo in deep trouble, observers say.
Moyo has clashed with Msika, Nkomo, and Zanu PF spokesman Nathan Shamuyarira who last week overruled him on the row over foreign journalists covering the cricket series against England. Shamuyarira, who has now muscled Moyo out of Jongwe Printers, hosted a function on Wednesday to welcome the foreign journalists. Moyo, who failed to block the journalists from coming to cover the cricket and congress, did not attend. Shamuyarira, chairman of the Zanu PF-owned Jongwe Printers, confirmed Moyo was no longer a director at the company.
Moyo has also been reportedly experiencing problems in his own office due to friction between him and his permanent secretary, George Charamba. It is said the two now only barely tolerate each other. Charamba is said to be gaining the upper hand as Moyo, whose control over state media is seen to be slipping, battles for his political life.
Meanwhile, opening the four-day Zanu PF 4th National People’s Congress in Harare yesterday, Mugabe stepped up attacks on the opposition MDC whom he accused of teaming up with whites to overthrow his government.
In a rambling address, Mugabe admitted his party’s poor performance saying “the congress was a forum to recount our achievements as well as our shortcomings as they occurred in the last five years”.
“We are proud we are meeting as a united Zanu PF leading a people that believe in themselves, a people committed to protecting and defending their right to self- determination and nationhood,” said Mugabe.
He repeated his mantra that the MDC would never rule this country. “We have seen the formation of stooge opposition parties. They have come and gone. And just now the way is clear to the extinction of yet another stooge party,” Mugabe declared amid applause from the party faithful.
“Most of their (MDC) leaders are not in the country right now, they are in Europe…That’s where he (MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai) is revered as the leader of the country. But here he cannot even spell his own name,” he said.
Mugabe then launched into a stinging attack on the British, particularly Premier Tony Blair, accusing him of trying to rule the whole world.