By Phil Tejane|
Virulent government spokesman and Robert Mugabe succession candidate Jonathan Moyo has openly contradicted another presidential aspirant Emmerson Mnangagwa, describing policies the vice president is promoting as “uncivilized”.
Although the clash is ostensibly over harsh criminal defamation laws the regime has been using to silence and punish media critics, Zanu PF insiders said the dispute was over who would succeed Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe for 35 years. The party sources said Moyo wanted to upstage Mnangagwa and become the Zanu PF presidential candidate in 2018.
“It’s now war between our sahwira Baba Jukwa (Moyo) and Ngwena (Mnangagwa),” said the protest group Zimbabweans for Prosperity, which claims to have close ties to Moyo. “Lets see who wins, so he will be the Grace PF (Zanu PF) candidate in 2018. And the fight is now being fought over policies. Baba Jukwa says criminal defamation has no place in our ‘democratic’ country but Ngwena is having none of it. Being a celebrated dictator and killer, Ngwena wants all those laws intact. It’s a battle. Sahwira posts on Facebook and Ngwena goes to Herald or Sunday Mail.”
Sources said Mnangagwa was miffed by Moyo’s decision to go against party policy and open a personal Facebook account, which he has used to criticize him.
On Sunday, Moyo started the Facebook debate on criminal defamation, resulting in unsavoury comments being made against Mnangagwa.
Said Moyo: “One cannot subscribe to freedom of expression and, in the same vein support criminal defamation. In my respectful consideration, criminal defamation is not only unconstitutional; it is also uncivilized.”
Moyo’s outrage followed last week’s declaratory order by Constitutional Court judge Bharat Patel, in which he endorsed Mnangagwa’s position that an earlier order by the same court related only to the old constitution. The judgement had been made in favour of Standard journalists Nevanji Madanhire and Nqaba Matshazi, after they were charged with criminally defaming Green Card chairman Munyaradzi Kereke. The journalists, in 2012, challenged the law’s constitutionality. In July 2014, the Constitutional Court unanimously ruled that section 96 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act must be struck off the statute books. Mnangagwa, who is also justice minister, contended that the ruling was in terms of the old constitution and the punitive law remained valid.
Moyo disputed this in one of the most serious public spats between Mugabe regime officials since the conflict over indigenization.
“Surely, this very clear declaration must legally mean that criminal defamation was, as it is, unconstitutional right from the beginning. A law that was unconstitutional from the beginning, and which has been declared as such by the Constitutional Court cannot suddenly spring into new life by dint of a new constitution, ” said Moyo.
Moyo reviles Mnangagwa, the former state security minister he blames for the murder of his father by Mugabe regime forces during the brutal Operation Gukurahundi, in which 50 000 Ndebeles and moderate Shonas were butchered in Matabeleland and Midlands in the 1980s.
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