The Zimbabwe government has denied media reports that controversial information minister Jonathan Moyo has tendered his resignation to acting president Joyce Mujuru.
Moyo allegedly sent his resignation by fax from Kenya, where he is on holiday, but Mujuru reportedly refused to accept it, referring the matter to President Robert Mugabe who is on vacation in Malaysia.
"I don't know anything about the alleged resignation. All I know is that he is in Kenya on holiday and he has not resigned," secretary in the ministry of information, George Charamba, told IRIN on Friday.
However, senior official sources confirmed the story, and said Moyo's decision to quit was linked to his removal from the ruling ZANU-PF's powerful Soviet-style politburo and central committee.
Moyo's political fortunes started to wane in December after he organised a meeting of key party members in his rural home of Tsholotsho ahead of ZANU-PF's congress, allegedly aimed at thwarting Mugabe's candidate for the post of vice-president, Mujuru.
He had also openly clashed with the ruling party's old guard, among them first vice-president Joseph Msika, and attacked them through the state media over which he had control.
During his term in office Moyo was the author of the repressive Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), and the Broadcasting Services Act. AIPPA resulted in the closure of the popular newspaper, The Daily News, and its sister publication, The Daily News on Sunday, at the beginning of 2004.
The privately owned The Tribune newspaper was also shut down, and the independent television station, Joy TV.
The chairman of the workers committee for The Daily News, Columbus Mavhunga, said the resignation of Moyo would not be enough to improve the climate under which the independent media labours.
"For us as journalists, the only positive development would be to repeal the legislation that stifles the operations of journalists," Mavhunga told IRIN.
Moyo's misfortunes coincide with those of colourful business
man and high-profile ZANU-PF member, Philip Chiyangwa, who was also opposed to Mugabe's choice of vice president.
Chiyangwa and four senior ruling party officials, including Zimbabwe's ambassador to Mozambique, have been in solitary confinement for two weeks on charges of spying for "foreign powers".
They allegedly provided confidential ZANU-PF information to spy masters based in South Africa.