Nduduzo Tshuma Bulawayo Bureau
Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo has dismissed claims by late war veteran Wilfred Mhanda that the Zanu-PF Politburo member fled from the war of liberation in the 1970s.
Mhanda, a former Zanla commander who died in May last year, writing in his biography, “Dzino: Memories of a Freedom Fighter”, claimed Prof Moyo made two attempts, the second one successful, to flee Mgagao, a training camp for Zanla combatants in Tanzania.
He said some educated recruits were more likely to be enemy agents whereas most came on their own volition.
“However, life was often simply too hard for them. Some educated cadres were caught during escape bids. Jonathan Moyo, for example, made two attempts from Mgagao, of which the second was successful and took him back to Rhodesia from where he made his way to the United States in 1976-77,” claimed Mhanda, whose liberation war pseudonym was Dzinashe Machingura.
But Prof Moyo, answering questions from Zimbabweans around the world on his Facebook page on Thursday, said it was unfortunate that Mhanda had passed on before he could respond to his allegations. Gift Museyamwa Mawire had asked the minister: “Did you run away as Dzino claims? If so, why?”
“No I did not and one day soon I hope the Good Lord will enable me to tell my side of the story,” Prof Moyo said.
“Otherwise it’s regrettable that Dzino passed before I could reply to him in similar currency, that is through a book.
“I have previously referred to the matter in a preface to my book, The Politics of Administration in Africa, published I think in 1991.
“Dzino made that allegation to pre-empt disclosures I wanted to make in a book about some unspeakable and dastardly acts that he and others working with him did at Mgagao against young Zimbabweans who found themselves at the camp expecting to be trained and deployed at the front. There’s an untold story here Cde.”
Mhanda was a member of the Zimbabwe Liberation Platform, which had a different agenda from the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association until the time of his death.
His memoirs were a bitter account of his fallout with President Mugabe which he claimed led to his incarceration in Mozambique just before Zimbabwe gained independence.
The late Mhanda, a polarising figure, led training of Zanla fighters in Tanzania and Mozambique, but differences emerged with nationalist leaders which led to his sidelining. Prof Moyo in his interactive exercise responded to questions on the country’s economy and President Mugabe’s electoral mandate following the landslide Zanu-PF victory in 2013, among other things.
Tinashe Kapunya asked Prof Moyo where and how the two million jobs promised during the elections are going to be created and how Zim-Asset was going to be funded.
“The promise of employment creation made by Zanu-PF in our 2013 election manifesto is real. It is premised on the exploitation of our natural resources to attend to such tasks as the rehabilitation of social and physical infrastructure through public private partnerships or joint ventures,” replied Prof Moyo.
“The mega deals with our Chinese and Russian partners are examples of the kind of projects that, along with our agricultural sector whose performance continues to improve, can create the kind of jobs that our country deserves.
“For this to happen, we need a national consensus on the new economy and the new policies needed to bring about the new economy. We need to work together in-between elections and not make every day an election day.”
Gilbert Kanyongo asked if the minister did not see a contradiction between President Mugabe talking about sovereignty and that Zimbabwe will never be a colony again, while Zimbabwe uses a multi-currency system including the British pound and the United States dollar.
Said Prof Moyo in reply: “I don’t think there’s any contradiction. We’re using a multi-currency system which includes the US dollar on our terms as a matter of our own sovereign decision. We’re not doing so as a colony of any country or as an imposition of any country. We’re doing it for our own good as a sovereign state.”
Chaitika Patrick asked the minister to outline his plans to improve programming and content quality on ZBC, which he said made him “ashamed of being a Zimbo”. The ministry, Professor Moyo said, was “dealing with the issue through the ZBC board”, adding: “We expect them to make public their programme of action for the benefit of content producers and the public. I, therefore, don’t think it wise for me to pre-empt that here.”
Paul K. Saungweme asked: “As minister responsible for the media, what’s your take about hate speech? Have you had time to speak with editors to try and be objective in their reporting?”
“The possibility of hate speech,” said the minister in reply, “and its abominable nature and threat to human civilisation, is enough to show why there are limits to freedom of expression. Happily our new Constitution outlaws hate speech.
“There’s, however, a challenge that, besides some few very clearly unacceptable examples, it’s not always clear what hate speech is. Its content is contested, especially in the popular media.
“We therefore need to debate this issue openly and responsibly to promote national consensus and practice of what constitutes unacceptable hate speech in the media.” Ignatius Chivasa wanted to know when the Government was going to start prosecuting corrupt officials, saying it was “the biggest obstacle to development”.
Said the minister: “Corruption is an evil and prosecuting corrupt elements is a national duty. The challenge is that there’s no way of fighting corruption without evidence that can withstand the scrutiny of the judiciary process in the courts of law. As you know, newspapers can write about corruption and proffer all sorts of allegations but material in newspapers is not acceptable as evidence in a court of law. We therefore need evidence-based ways of fighting corruption. Even newspapers can do better by using investigative skills to come up with evidence-based stories on corruption.
“In the final analysis, the responsibility to fight corruption is shared by all and not just some of us.”
Denford Maruta, apparently referring to President Mugabe, asked Prof Moyo: “When is your uncle Bob going to retire?”
The minister shot back: “He wasn’t elected on July 31, 2013 — about 20 months ago — to retire. He was elected to govern for five years from July 31, 2013, to July 31, 2018. That’s what he’s doing and he’s determined to discharge his constitutional mandate.”
The exchanges were not without some tasty moments, like when Garikai Chitsanzo Goremusandu asked the minister: “With due respect, why did you subvert the people’s will in 2008?”
The minister answered in kind: “With similar due respect, I honestly don’t know what you’re talking about, and I’m sure I’m not the one in that quandary.”
Takudzwa Leonard Mathende got it worse, when he asked the minister if “Grace Mugabe is now in the Zanu-PF presidium”, the question apparently occasioned by pictures of the First Lady seated next to President Mugabe during the Zanu-PF Politburo on Wednesday, interpreted by the private media to mean she was being groomed to “take over”.
“Zanu-PF does not have in its constitution any permanent structure called ‘Presidium’. Therefore, Dr Grace Mugabe cannot be a part of something that does not exist.” Bhekitshe Gambizah Moyo, from Lupane, expressed concern over the poor mobile phone connectivity in the Matabeleland North capital and surrounding areas. Prof Moyo noted that they were not alone.
“That’s also true of Tsholotsho. I know that the Minister of ICT Cde Supa Mandiwanzira is working on that as a matter of priority.
“The Zanu-PF Department of Science and Technology is also seized with the matter, not only for Lupane and Tsholotsho, but indeed for the whole country with respect to rural communities.”