via Outrage over ‘open mouth shut’ mind VP NewZimbabwe 10/02/2014
MEDIA activists and ordinary Zimbabweans have expressed outrage over Acting President Joyce Mujuru’s weekend remarks attacking newspaper revelations about the extensive pay scandal dogging the country’s loss making state enterprises.
Now referred to as “Salarygate”, the salary scandal was ignited by the dismissal of Zimbabwe Broadcasting Cooperation (ZBC) CEO Happison Muchechetere and has since gathered a head of steam with allegations that most of the country’s 78 State enterprises as well as the 92 local authorities were affected.
Outed after Muchechetere was the Cuthbert Dube-led executive at the Public Service Medical Aid Society (PSMAS) which allegedly shared $1 million among eight individuals every month when the quasi-government organisation was struggling to honour its financial obligations.
But while the nation waited with bated breath to see how the country’s rulers respond to the alarming haemorrhage on State coffers, Vice President Mujuru chose to turn her ammunition on the media, insisting they were being used by Zanu PF “saboteurs” to ruin the party and its government.
Her comments elicited strong resentment from media players who accused the country’s most powerful woman politician of attempting to gag the press.
“It would always be unacceptable for anybody, whether in high or low office, to try to gag the media from reporting on any issue especially on corruption, corruption of which we know has become such a widespread malignance in Zimbabwe,” said Majoni.
“The role of the media is to do an oversight over government, executive, judiciary as well as society and inform the same society.”
“It’s is a travesty of justice on the part of VP Mujuru to call for a halt in reporting about the looting of state resources at government entities,” he said.
“Our role as the media is to expose corruption. So we will be failing the nation if we take Mujuru’s advice. We need to continue exposing the rot in government, but by trying to force the media to turn a blind eye on corruption, she is being irresponsible.”
Zimbabwe National Editors’ Forum secretary general and veteran journalistBarnabas Thondhlana said Mujuru’s comments were informed by factional wars within Zanu PF, insisting the media must not be dragged into her party’s internal squabbles.
“The media’s role is to be the watchdog of society. The media reports without fear or favour and brings to the public sphere things which might be hidden,” he said.
“It is not for the media to bother about factions in political parties, for that is not our mandate. We report news as it happens for the public good. We make public that which government quasi-government bodies and the private sector wish to keep hidden.
“Where public funds are concerned, it is the duty of the media to enquire how those funds are being utilised. The public expects to be informed about how their hard-earned dollars are being spent.”
Journalist Itai Dzamari said it was very unfortunate a whole country has been dragged into an argument on Mujuru’s comments and lost sight of the bigger picture where citizens must be demanding the prosecution of the looters.
“The most important question becomes, ‘will this develop to a point where corrective action would be taken?’. That is the major concern to the nation. We have had plenty such stories that have gone away as entertainment but with no action being taken.”
Former Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) president Pride Mkono also condemned Mujuru.
“Surely, how can anyone in their normal senses castigate the public exposure of the rot in our public enterprises unless that person is complicit and has interests? The Vice President must think again.”