MUGABE DUMPS ZBC FOR INTERNATIONAL MEDIA
While former president Robert Mugabe used to loath the international and local independent media preferring coverage only in the public media, he has found his choices limited after being dethroned last November.
Mugabe, who enjoyed giving his annual lengthy birthday interviews to the public broadcaster ZBC and shunned the private media, has now instead found favour with the latter.
Since his fall the public media has not given him any space except when the stories are negative.
So it came naturally last week when Mugabe held his first public interview with the media, both local and international, whose composition did not include any under the public media stable.
Interestingly the media that used to deify him has abandoned him and he has been left at the mercy of those whom he used to shun.
Mugabe has even opened up about the great betrayal that the man (President Emmerson Mnangagwa) whom he worked hard to protect and groom has turned against him.
Mugabe used to be a darling of the State-controlled press —ZBC, The Herald, Sunday Mail — and their radio stations, Ziana news agency and the Patriot as well as the People’s Voice.
Journalists from these media houses would travel with him and write pieces praising him, but ever since his downfall, they have changed from portraying him as “angel Gabriel” to demonising him.
And a few names of journalists associated with his coverage ring the bell!
The journalists have also changed their reportage tone, from portraying him as the icon of Africa to comrade, all these tittles have changed to just being a Mr.
During State House and other high level functions, while the rest of the media including both the private and international press used to go through a torrid time to get entrance to the venue, the State media would be ushered in with ease.
But how things quickly change! The very media that Mugabe used to shun and speak ill of is the very media he is now inviting in his home.
The British media that he used to loath is now the one he trusts with carrying his voice to the world.
During his first interview at his “Blue Roof” mansion, Mugabe was comfortable with talking to the Times of London, British television network ITV News as well as SABC and Sunday Times of South Africa. He also invited a few privately-owned local newspapers.
To show how bad this is, even the party he used to lead has stripped him of his comrade title, as reflected by the reportage of the State media.
And the public media has gone further, writing that Mugabe did not fight in the war as they used to say before.
The former president has changed from being hero to zero in the publications and broadcasts.
Even his wife Grace is no longer “Doctor Amai”.
The 94-year-old former president was forced to resign last November after a military intervention, which resulted in President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s ascendency to power.
Zanu PF members recently openly denounced Mugabe, while propping up Mnangagwa despite vows and indications last year that the 94-year-old was to rule for life.
“Pamberi mberi na Mnangagwa, pasi pasi na Robert Gabriel Mugabe (Forward with Mnangagwa and down with Mugabe),” the Zanu PF officials chanted last week at the party’s youth meeting.
The party openly declared that Mugabe was now its new enemy, making insinuations that he must not be involved in politics.
This has also resulted in Mugabe receiving negative publicity in the State media, including allegations that he owns 21 farms and that he was demanding his benefits in hard cash, despite the cash crisis affecting the country.