HARARE – Former Information minister Jonathan Moyo has denied responsibility for the 2001 bomb attack at the print works of leading independent newspaper, the Daily News, which was seen by many as a government-backed campaign of intimidation.
Moyo, now a Higher Education minister, said on micro-blogging site Twitter he had no involvement in the large bomb that exploded at the print works in a targeted attack that badly damaged the main printing presses of the Daily News in Harare, although no-one was hurt.
Asked if he participated in the bombing of Daily News as alleged, Moyo said in a terse response: “No. I did not & could not!”
Just before the bomb blast, the then Information minister condemned the paper for its “cynical” attitude to “anything and everything that is nationalistic, Zimbabwean or African”.
He said: “It is now only a matter of time before Zimbabweans put a final stop to this madness in defence of their cultural interest and national security.”
The bomb blast came just days after militant supporters of President Robert Mugabe’s government marched to the newspaper’s offices to show their anger at its coverage.
The Daily News was subsequently banned by Mugabe’s Zanu PF party in 2003 over a registration dispute.
Police spokesperson Paul Nyathi yesterday declined to comment on progress on investigations, referring questions to his boss Charity Charamba, who said she will check if police has made strides in solving the now seemingly cold case amid indications the perpetrators of the newspaper bombing could have eluded the long arm of the law.
“Let me check. I will find out, right now I’m busy,” she told the Daily News yesterday. She was later not taking calls.
A media commission appointed by the unity government formed between Mugabe and his rival, then Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai in 2009 to tackle an economic and political crisis, including opening up the media industry, re-licensed the popular private daily in 2010, and it hit the market stalls in March 2011.
Mugabe and his officials have long blamed the local private press and the Western media of unleashing a hate crusade against his Zanu PF party over its controversial policies, including reckless money minting and its empowerment policies, mainly the seizure of white-owned farms for redistribution to landless blacks.
But local rights groups insist Zanu PF has been antagonistic to a free press since it assumed power at independence from Britain in 1980, and has used its own control of the State media to unleash crude propaganda. Zimbabwe still has no private radio or television station.