3 March 2017
HARARE – Two symbolic and important developments which took place over the
past few days have given Zimbabweans a glimmer of hope that our beloved
country will not implode completely after all – as is widely feared, with
good reason, in some sections of the populace.
In a welcome change of tack, the government took the nation into its
confidence on Wednesday, announcing openly and officially that President
Robert Mugabe had left the country for a medical check-up in Singapore.
Previously, the president’s health – as important as it is to the welfare
of the entire nation – had ill-advisedly been kept a major State secret:
often leading to wild and unnecessary speculation about his fitness, with
a few twisted souls going to the crass extent of claiming falsely that he
In the second, but no less refreshing development earlier in the week,
Mugabe was moved by a comment which the country’s most influential
newspaper, the Daily News, wrote in its Monday edition – regarding how
Zanu PF honours him on his birthdays – resulting in the president thanking
the popular daily for its winning and inimitable journalism.
In the editorial in question, Zimbabwe’s leading newspaper brand
encouraged those who organise the 21st February Movement celebrations to
stop hosting lavish bashes for Mugabe, and to instead use all the
substantial monies that they raise annually for this purpose for worthier
In a surprise telephone call to the Daily News on behalf of the president,
Gushungo’s spokesperson George Charamba said: “President Mugabe read the
whole comment you wrote and clapped his hands saying the Daily News,
although very critical, had conveyed a good message not only to him as an
individual but to the people of Zimbabwe as well.
“He (Mugabe) said I must contact you to express his appreciation of the
advice you gave him . . . The president agrees with many of the concerns
you raised in the editorial and promised that the next events will be
better organised, especially on the need to raise money for the
“He asked me to tell you that he is a leader who listens to good advice,
no matter where it is coming from”.
Part of the Daily News’ comment had read: “We want to recommend a
different way in which Zimbabweans should honour him (Mugabe), to help
heal our troubled country and also sway the hearts of those who wish him
“There is no doubt that the 21st birthday movement is now associated with
controversy, excess and factionalism, with many of those tasked with
managing this annual jamboree seemingly hellbent on advancing their own
narrow interests rather than celebrating Gushungo and his life, or
advancing national goals.
“Why for example, was money not raised this year in the president’s name
to help the many victims of Cyclone Dineo in Matabeleland, instead of
holding a divisive feast in the province which did little to lift
Gushungo’s name and advance the interests of all Zimbabweans?”.
Apart from the pleasing confirmation that the president reads, respects
and is alive to our sometimes critical, but well-meaning journalism at the
Daily News and the Daily News on Sunday, an even more important aspect of
his unexpected praise was that the CEO of Zim Incorporated now fully
appreciates the critical watchdog role of the independent media.
This is massively important for us at the Daily News and the Daily News on
Sunday, as well as the industry at large, and Zimbabwe as a whole –
particularly given our sad experience 14 years ago when we were unjustly
shut down by the government for telling the Zimbabwean story like it is,
without fear or favour, and as we continue to do.
History has since recorded that some of Zanu PF’s worst excesses occurred
around the time that the Daily News and the Daily News on Sunday were out
of circulation – including Operation Murambatsvina and the wanton murders
of opposition supporters which accompanied the disputed 2008 presidential
It is in this light that Zimbabweans ought to give the president credit
for his move, of course with a rider that he now impresses it on his few
litigious and outrightly malicious lieutenants, who continue to harass and
abuse the media, to follow his laudable example.
To recap, our hope – like those of many other long-suffering Zimbabweans
who have got in touch with us over the past week – is that these two key
developments will one day be seen by all citizens as marking the beginning
of a renaissance of good sense, equitable governance and progress in our