HEIGHTENED manifestations of intensifying fights over President Robert Mugabe’s hotly-contested succession battle rocked cabinet again this week, amid indications the problem is increasingly spinning out of control.
The succession battle exploded on Wednesday through a confrontation between Information minister Chris Mushohwe and Indigenisation minister Patrick Zhuwao over media reports on Zanu PF bigwigs and other interested parties clashing on who should succeed the 93-year-old and ailing Mugabe.
Last week, Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander General Constantino Chiwenga, Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo and Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa publicly clashed over the US$500 million Command Agriculture programme, which has now become the new front on which the raging succession battle is being fought.
On Wednesday trouble started when Mushohwe complained about Zanu PF leaders and government officials feuding in the media over policy issues. He appealed to cabinet to try and stop the infighting through the media.
However, Zhuwao, who is also Mugabe’s nephew, confronted Mushohwe, saying that he was not the best person to raise the issue as he allowed the state media to wage a campaign of negative publicity and character assassination against him and other ministers, as well as government officials. Zhuwao said that before Mushohwe could talk about officials fighting in the media, he should rein in the state media, particularly the state-controlled Herald, which he said was being used as a factional platform to attack certain ministers.
“Mushohwe said there was an all-out war in the media in which several government officials, including ministers, members of the security forces and war veterans were now fighting each other publicly. He said this was worsening divisions and policy discord within cabinet, and government,” one cabinet minister said. “He then appealed to President Mugabe who was chairing cabinet and other colleagues to help stop the media attacks.”
However, Zhuwao countered him, saying Mushohwe was part of the problem in the first place as he was allowing state media, especially The Herald, to be used as a blunt tool to attack certain government ministers and officials.
“Zhuwao told Mushohwe that he could not complain about fights in the media when he himself was in charge of the media in general as the relevant policymaker and the state media in particular. He said he must first control the state media before making noise about the issue.”