Monday, January 31, 2005

The ironic demise of an Orwellian master

Africa lacks many things. Infrastructure. Political leadership. Respect for the rule of law. But one thing the continent is never short on is irony.

Jonathan, over at The Head Heeb, comments on the amusing demise of Zimbabwe's Information Minister Jonathan Moyo.

As you may know, Moyo was the architect of the country's repressive media laws that have all but annihilated any press breathing space. Press organs have to register with the government and that press registration can be denied on a whim. Printing presses of the Daily News, the country's only independent daily have been repeatedly sabotaged and bombed. Foreign reporters can only be denied entry in the country on a whim. The BBC has been banned altogether. This was all organized by Moyo. The former anti-government university professor who was bought off with a cabinet position even officially banned the opposition ('disloyal opposition parties') from access to state media.

Yet despite this and despite his loyal shilling for dictator Robert Mugabe, the old professor has fallen out of favor. First, he backed a ruling party candidate for vice-president that was different than the one prefered by Mugabe. Now, the ZANU-PF party politburo (yes, that's what it's actually called) has decided to take action against its former apologist.

According to the Zimbabwe Independent weekly, the politburo discussed the manipulation of the state-controlled media by Moyo and expressed concern about the role of Zimpapers [state print media corporation] editors who it said had been roped into party politics.

Some politburo members said the editors were being used as “foot soldiers” to fight Moyo’s factional battles.

Zanu PF officials expressed alarm that the Herald, Chronicle, Sunday Mail and Sunday News and to some extent state radio and television had become propaganda vehicles for Moyo.

They reportedly complained that stories and anonymous columns in these newspapers were advancing Moyo’s personal interests and not those of Zanu PF.

If you've ever listened to an interview with Moyo, you know he is one of the most Orwellian spin doctors you'll ever hear. It was amusing to see him at work, twisting the truth and changing the subject with the skill of a master.

Too bad the professor apparently never read Machiavelli.

I'm sure what's left of an independent media in Zimbabwe is having trouble containing its glee at Moyo's plight.


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