In the news: Jonathon Moyo

March 15, 2002

Jonathan Moyo, Robert Mugabe's controversial information minister, is the man behind the difficulties faced by the international media covering this week's chaotic presidential elections in Zimbabwe.

His repressive amendments to Zimbabwe's media laws imposed tight controls on foreign journalists entering the country as well as on local journalists.

And during the Commonwealth heads of government meeting in Australia, he dismissed journalists' questions about Zimbabwe's democratic credentials. Why, he asked, was Zimbabwe expected to entertain foreign election observers when Britain was not subjected to the same kind of scrutiny?

But the former academic - he still uses the title of "professor" - was not always such a loyal supporter. He frequently used a political magazine to attack the regime during a spell as head of the politics department at the University of Zimbabwe.

In mid-1999, however, he made a U-turn. He left the University of the Wi****ersrand in Johannesburg (without informing it of his change in career path) to become media adviser to Zanu-PF. His departure from his associate professorship at Wits left a major research project unfinished. Wits's political studies department, which sought to discover if he intended to complete the project, is still trying to recover R300,000-R600,000 (£,000-£53,000) in salary paid to Professor Moyo during his unauthorised absence up to his eventual resignation in 2000.

Last year, it emerged that Professor Moyo was being sued in Kenya over £51,600 he got for a Ford Foundation-funded project on alternative research in East Africa in 1993-97.

If his political career falters, Professor Moyo will find his options strictly limited. He is a target of European Union "smart sanctions" that prevent his travelling to the EU and freeze any assets held by him or his family in member states.

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