THE Zanu PF politburo has gagged Media,Information and Broadcasting Services minister Jonathan Moyo and ordered him to stop taking internal party issues to the media following his verbal showdown with party national spokesperson Rugare Gumbo last week.
JOHN NYASHANU,POLITICAL EDITOR
“He (Moyo) was ordered to stop taking political issues to the papers,” Gumbo told NewsDay yesterday, but refused to shed more details on how the issue was brought up for discussion at the special politburo meeting held on Saturday.
Efforts to get comment from Moyo were unsuccessful yesterday as his mobile phone went unanswered.
Another Zanu PF politburo member who requested anonymity corroborated Gumbo’s statement.
“It’s true Moyo was directed not to issue statements regarding developments in the party. However, it was also noted that he was not to blame as he simply relayed a message that had come from the Presidential spokesperson, (George Charamba). Throughout the deliberations over the matter, Moyo showed immense maturity as he remained calm and did not oppose the politburo’s decision,” said the source.
The public spat between Moyo and Gumbo almost got out of hand after they issued contradictory statements over the status of Zanu PF provincial election results for Mashonaland Central which Gumbo had earlier given to the media. Presidential spokesperson George Charamba then claimed he was under instruction from President Robert Mugabe to notify the media that the politburo was yet to endorse the results.
But Gumbo insisted that the results he had announced stood, adding that he was the only official party mouthpiece.
Moyo then sprang to Charamba’s defence saying: “There can be no executive authority in Zanu PF higher than the party’s president and first secretary (Mugabe). Any suggestion or claim to the contrary is mischievous to the extreme.”
Irked by the remarks, which apparently appeared to undermine senior party officials’ authority, Presidential Affairs minister and Zanu PF secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa jumped into the ring in Gumbo’s defence, and accused Charamba of “jumping the protocol”.
Mutasa said Charamba had no mandate to comment on party business as that was Gumbo’s brief.
A politburo member who declined to be named told NewsDay yesterday that the entire confusion was caused by one Gwatiringa from the President’s Office who took Charamba’s statement to Moyo instead of forwarding it to Gumbo as it was purely a party issue which had nothing to do with the Information ministry.
Mugabe and Charamba were out of the country last week when the drama was playing out in the public glare.
Moyo has a history of run-ins with senior Zanu PF officials since he came into the political limelight in 2000, notably when he was fingered in the infamous 2004 “Tsholotsho Declaration” which allegedly sought to re-arrange the Zanu PF presidium.
Mugabe then blocked his nomination into the party’s central committee and dropped him from the politburo and subsequently expelled him from both Cabinet and the party in February 2005. This was after Moyo had defied a party decision to reserve the Tsholotsho seat for a female candidate and stood for parliamentary elections as an independent candidate, winning the seat.
Moyo was re-admitted into Zanu PF in 2009 and re-appointed Cabinet minister this year.
Meanwhile, the Saturday special politburo meeting ended with Vice-President Joice Mujuru having the last laugh as results of the three provinces — Mashonaland Central, Midlands and Manicaland — where her suspected allies triumphed, were endorsed.
The results were contested by a faction believed to be loyal to Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, which alleged massive rigging.
Although both Mujuru and Mnangagwa have publicly denied leading the alleged factions, party sources insist that they are both itching to place their allies in strategic positions ahead of next year’s elective congress where Mugabe’s likely successor could emerge.
However, Mugabe, who turns 90 in February next year, has indicated that he will see his full five-year term through following his election victory on July 31 this year.