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Zimbabwe State Media Urged To Burnish Image Of Mugabe Backer

Reliable sources in Zimbabwe's state-controlled media say a spokesman for the ruling party invited editors of the country's state media to a luncheon Wednesday where he introduced British millionaire and ZANU-PF backer Nicholas van Hoogstraten, then urged the senior journalists to ensure van Hoogstraten got positive coverage.

ZANU-PF information chief Nathan Shamuyarira cited van Hoogstraten's investments in Zimbabwe and said the country's people should thank him. But this could only come about with the cooperation of the media, which he urged to put a positive spin on coverage of the highly controversial Dutch-born U.K. multimillionaire.

Van Hoogstraten served a four year jail term in Britain for ordering a grenade attack on a former business associate who owed him money. The businessman once described President Robert Mugabe as “100% decent and incorruptible."

Shamuyarira could not be reached for comment. Nor could van Hoogstrateen, whose London office said it was not clear whether he was in Britain or abroad.

Political analyst Pedzisai Ruhanya told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that van Hoogstraten’s past is so tainted that there is little that the Zimbabwean state media can do to rehabilitate his reputation.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...