PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has confirmed wide beliefs the country’s private media has been captured by free-spending Zanu PF politicians at the expense of their shallow pocketed rivals within the opposition MDC who used to enjoy good coverage from the same papers.
He was addressing party supporters at his Mashonaland Central youth interface rally on Saturday afternoon.
Mugabe bemoaned continued infighting within his party, adding that the feuding politicians had gone to the extent of paying the private press in order to push through malicious information against their rivals.
He, however, said the private media was also guilty of creating false information concerning Zanu PF squabbles while remaining fixated on him and the first lady.
“Some of them (conspiracy theories) come from you journalists who write rubbish. Absolute rubbish!” President Mugabe said.
“Each and every day is supposed to carry Mugabe’s name and that of his wife. Some of the stories are not fit to be called news for the people.
“But what is happening is that because of the misunderstandings in our party, some (Zanu PF politicians) now have relationships with the likes of the Daily News and the Standard; putting their thoughts…criticising each other there.”
President Mugabe said his main rival Morgan Tsvangirai of MDC-T was no longer a favourite within the country’s private press in comments that confirmed his lieutenants were buying their way into newspaper pages.
“We (Zanu PF) have long seized the papers from Tsvangirai because we are the ones who now wield a lot of influence.
“We are the ones who pay them better than the likes of Tsvangirai,” President Mugabe said.
The 93 year-old leader did not mention specific cases in which the private media has been bribed to report positively on Zanu PF politicians while doing the opposite for their rivals.
But while this has been the case, the state controlled media has also riled the first family for -perceived bias against Generation 40-a Zanu PF faction tussling for party control with Vice President Emmerson Mngangagwa’s Team Lacoste ahead of President Mugabe’s much anticipated exit from politics.
G40, which is opposed to the Zanu PF old guard remaining in control of the party, also claim to be fighting in the first family’s corner.
First Lady Grace in July this year harangued presidential spokesperson George Charamba in front of a shocked Zanu PF crowd in Chinhoyi, accusing him of influencing the state controlled media to report positively about Vice President Mnangagwa’s faction while ignoring her philanthropic work.
Charamba, as information ministry secretary, has a great say in the editorial slant of public media.
The so-called media capture within both the public and private media remains a thorny issue in the country with fears media owners or their editorial staff have thrown professionalism through the window at the slightest whiff of cash somewhere.
The subject featured prominently among media stakeholders who during their conference in Harare last week bemoaned the arm-twisting of the media by both powerful individuals using their influence or by corporates who pour in a lot of money through adverts, leading to a cash-strapped media choosing to turn a blind eye to some of their acts of commission and omission. – NewZim