BY RICHARD CHIDZA
INFORMATION minister Jonathan Moyo was again yesterday thrust into the centre of worsening Zanu PF fights after a ruling party apologist accused him of using the media to destroy the party from within.
Goodson Nguni, the leader of the Zanu PF-aligned Federation of Non-governmental Organisations, made a string of allegations against Moyo including that the former Zanu PF critic had an elaborate plan to tarnish the image of President Robert Mugabe and his deputies.
Nguni was reacting to a story in The Herald yesterday claiming that he leaked issues discussed at last week’s meeting of the Zanu PF politburo to NewsDay.
This was after the paper published a story on Monday where Zanu PF insiders alleged Mugabe had disclosed that he owed fired Mashonaland East provincial chairperson Ray Kaukonde $30 million.
Nguni told journalists in Harare yesterday that he had since established that Moyo authored the Herald story as part of the alleged ploy to destroy the party from within.
He alleged Moyo was co-ordinating the onslaught against Zanu PF by both the State and private media, an accusation the political scientist vehemently denied last night.
“Zimbabweans must just do a research and see the multitudes (sic) of anti-Zanu PF attitude by Moyo,” Nguni said.
“I hope Zanu PF will understand that Moyo has previously stated that he wants to destroy Zanu PF from within and he is co-ordinating the public and private media to write negative stories about Zanu PF, the President, Vice-Presidents and all progressive Zanu PF members.”
Nguni said Moyo’s recent interview with BBC where he stated that Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa was not guaranteed to succeed Mugabe backed his claims.
“It is for [Presidential spokesperson] George Charamba and how is it that he can tell us that the President can do this or not do that? Moyo is a very dangerous mafikizolo [upstart],” he said.
“The recent BBC interview was held in Zimbabwe at Moyo’s request where he wanted to denigrate senior members of the party and talk about Zanu PF issues when he is not the party’s secretary for information.”
Mnangagwa’s allies reacted angrily to the interview claiming Moyo’s body language showed “disdain and contempt” for the VP.
Nguni urged Zanu PF to investigate Moyo’s appointment of State media editors, saying they were part of the strategy to destroy the party.
“I hope Zanu PF will look very closely at all his editorial appointments at Zimpapers,” he said.
Nguni denied being the source of NewsDay’s story about Kaukonde. He said Moyo was trying to use the story to further his own agenda against party officials.
“Moyo wanted The Herald to snare me into mentioning particular names within the politburo,” he charged.
“He was hoping that the people who I talk to in the politburo would be linked to the story, but unfortunately for him all the people in the politburo are friendly to me.
“Moyo is targeting me because I am the face of Zanu PF attack against the MDC and I regularly pop up to defend Zanu PF when he is busy conniving against the party. He was hoping to silence me.”
He said he had not spoken to Richard Chidza, the journalist The Herald alleged authored the story.
The story had no by-line to identify the writer.
“I never had a teleconference or meeting with Chidza after the last politburo meeting,” Nguni said.
“ I have never had access to politburo meetings or been advised of deliberations except what the party’s information department churns out in public.
“The story was written because Jonathan Moyo was informed that I was going to launch a petition in the Constitutional Court to enjoin and oppose the application by Herald editor Caesar Zvayi to purge our Constitution of criminal defamation.”
Moyo has spoken against efforts to retain criminal defamation in the statute books while Mnangagwa wants the law to stand.
“I had occasion to challenge Zvayi on why The Herald is taking Mnangagwa to court over criminal defamation,” Nguni said.
“Zvayi told me to my face that Moyo ordered him to sue Mnangagwa in order to remove criminal defamation.
“Zvayi also told me that Moyo was the author of all anti-Zanu PF stories carried in the Zimpapers stable.
“Zvayi also told me that Moyo wants criminal defamation removed so that journalists can write false stories and not get arrested.”
However, Zvayi said it was not true that Moyo wrote stories for The Herald, insisting that he was in charge of the paper.
“Only a fool would believe Prof Moyo is a journalist at The Herald. I am the editor of the paper, I preside over the diary. Herald reporters write all stories in The Herald,” he said.
“I don’t know what an anti-Zanu-PF story is because we write issue-based or event-based stories. If anything we are accused of being a Zanu-PF mouthpiece.”
He also denied charges that The Herald’s defamation challenge was part of the anti-Mnangagwa campaign.
“As for the claim Prof Moyo is party to our lawsuit, a simple check of the court papers or call to the lawyer can clarify that. It’s Zimpapers suing and I am representing Zimpapers as editor of the flagship title.”
Moyo poured scorn on Nguni’s claims and defended The Herald.
He said the paper had an “unparallelled and proud record in support of the party, government and country in the national interest”.
“Second, it’s quite clear that Cde Nguni has a very strange defence against very serious allegations that he is the second-hand source to the criminal falsehood that President Mugabe owes Kaukonde $30m,” Moyo said.
“I did not attend the politburo meeting last Thursday, but what has been reported in your newspaper about what allegedly took place in the meeting is totally unacceptable and those behind the misleading leaks must be held accountable without fear or favour.
“The matter is as simple as that.”
Moyo has repeatedly faced accusations that he is on a mission to destroy Zanu PF from within with critics pointing to his previous life as an acerbic critic of Mugabe.