Mujuru’s dictatorship of silence

WHEN Vice-President Joice Mujuru at the weekend made disturbing remarks suggesting current media exposures of astronomical executive salaries and perks — driven by greed and corruption — could be a regime change ploy in which journalists are stalking horses, there was a storm of protest which left her image badly battered.

EDITOR’S MEMO
By Dumisani Muleya

Yet in the process many issues got lost in the ensuing dust bowl.

Mujuru was justly attacked for her remarks which insinuated disclosures of corruption were part of an internal Zanu PF power struggle by factional bigwigs who want to settle political scores with their rivals. She also claimed it was part of a sinister agenda to destroy the country.

While many people agree political agendas might be inherently involved and that the anti-corruption drive must not be used to settle personal vendettas, but to root out the endemic and rampant scourge, Mujuru’s conspiracy theories and thinly-veiled attacks on the media stirred a hornet’s nest.

Zanu PF functionaries from her faction, including spokesperson Rugare Gumbo, had to spring to her defence, saying the party did not tolerate corruption, as the attacks intensified.

Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, also Leader of the House in parliament, was taken to task by the opposition MDC-T MPs over the issue, but seemed to enjoy the debate, coming out strongly against corruption at the expense of his rival who resorted to sophistry and got herself entangled.

The political sub-plot in this anti-corruption drama is that Mujuru’s allies claim they are being targeted for political reasons, not corrupt or illegal conduct. They also say Information minister Jonathan Moyo is behind-the-scenes pushing a power-grabbing agenda in service of the Mnangagwa faction, even if political dynamics inside Zanu PF and the state no longer fit the description.

As evidence, they say all people under fire so far, including ICT minister Webster Shamu, Moyo’s predecessor, suspended ZBC CEO Happison Muchechetere and ex-Premier Service Medical Aid Society CEO Cuthbert Dube, among others, are associated with the Mujuru camp.

So Moyo must be up to something political and for the most part sinister, they charge.

To his defence, Moyo however retorts the bottom line is that there can be no reason or excuse for corruption and thus no justification of any sort will be accepted regardless of the position or history of the people complaining because looting of state enterprises or any company for that matter is simply wrong.

A number of issues arise from Mujuru’s outburst expected to trigger clashes at Zanu PF’s extraordinary politburo meeting today. The knives are already out.

The obvious one is she is annoyed and feels her allies are under siege, thus she must come to their rescue. There is also the element of a pre-emptive strike to prevent further disclosures.

Linked to this is her demand that the media must back off because President Robert Mugabe’s office is already dealing with the issue, meaning she actually wants to impose a dictatorship of silence on such critical public affairs.

By so doing, she reveals she does not understand the depth of growing popular anger over abuses of power and office, as well as public officials parading luxury cars, houses and lifestyles they cannot possibly afford on their salaries.

However, in the media we believe it’s better to tolerate the noises of a free press than the dictatorship of silence. We don’t like unthinking respect for authority.

Mujuru is actually doing more damage to herself than all her enemies combined. By misreading the national mood and coming out as if she is representing forces of corruption fighting back against popular demands for legality, good corporate governance and accountability she has seriously damaged her reputation and invited all sorts of questions, including: Is she fit to govern?

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