Grace Mugabe calls journos who work for private press insane - report

Zimbabwe - A press watchdog in Zimbabwe said on Thursday it was "extremely concerned" after First Lady Grace Mugabe called journalists working for the private press insane.

Mugabe, 50, said journalists not working for state media were wrong to accuse her of vote-buying "because it is better to vote for someone who gives you something than someone who does not," according to the official Herald newspaper.

In comments that closely followed threats on the private press by President Robert Mugabe's spokesperson, Grace Mugabe said the journalists were producing "rubbish".

"We do not want senseless and nonsensical articles," she was quoted as saying, holding up the state ZBC broadcaster's diplomatic correspondent Judith Makwanya as an example for reporters to follow. Longtime reporter Makwanya apparently never criticises the Mugabe family or the Zanu-PF government.

MISA-Zimbabwe said Grace Mugabe's words were part of a "relentless onslaught" against the private media.

Though elections are still three years away, the 91-year-old president's wife has been holding a series of rallies at which she has made handsome donations of food, clothes and thousands of pairs of shoes.

Eyebrows have been raised at the fact that she travels in the presidential helicopter. Some analysts believe Grace Mugabe may be positioning herself to take over power when her husband dies.

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