Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe smiles during a youth rally in Marondera about 100 kilometres east of Harare. Picture: Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/AP

Harare – Zimbabwean media practitioners are caught up in the fierce factional fights in the ruling party to succeed President Robert Mugabe.

Zimbabwean police, infamous for their partisanship to Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party, have summoned several journalists working for the privately-run NewsDay to be state witnesses in a court case.

Former Mashonaland Central provincial youth chairperson of the party, Godfrey Tsenengamu, recently called on Mugabe to step down from power in favour of Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa and is now accused of plotting to subvert a constitutionally elected government. 

Tsenengamu expressed his thoughts when he addressed a media conference in Harare allegedly without securing authority from the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), who are the regulatory authority.

Journalist Everson Mushava and Wisdom Mudzungairi, the editor of the daily newspaper NewsDay have been summoned to “assist” the law enforcement agents with investigations into their article published in February.

They have declined the summons, citing the journalistic privilege and the constitutionally protected freedom of expression and freedom of the media,
which protects the confidentiality of journalists’ sources of information.

The newspaper has tendered a copy of the article in question, stating it would suffice as the sole and complete statement on the matter and hence
no assistance could be given to ZRP officers in their investigations.

Tsenengamu is the latest former ally of Mugabe (93) to pressurise the leader to step down.

Amid old age and waning popularity of Mugabe, factions siding with Mnangagwa, and another reportedly led by first lady Grace Mugabe punting for
minister of Defence Sydney Sekeramayi are involved in factional fights.

Mugabe, in power since independence in 1980, has not appointed a successor.

Former deputy Joice Mujuru was fired in 2014 for allegedly plotting against him.