via NewsDay suspends editor over Mbeki by NewZimbabwe
THE NewsDay newspaper suspended its editor on Friday over two stories which the publisher said “did not conform to set ethical standards.”
Constantine Chimakure’s suspension is “with immediate effect”, said Vincent Kahiya, the editor-in-chief of Alpha Media Holdings, publishers of the daily.
The move came after former South African President Thabo Mbeki accused the newspaper of publishing “falsehoods” by misreporting his comments made on August 23 during a lecture at UNISA in Tshwane.
The newspaper, in its front page splash on Thursday, claimed that Mbeki – who had attended President Robert Mugabe’s inauguration a day earlier – had criticised the Zimbabwean leader and accused him of “setting a bad example” in Africa with his land reforms.
The paper quoted Mbeki as saying: “The way the land reform was done offended other players in the world. I told them (Mugabe and Zanu PF), they could not listen; they did what they wanted with their own country.
“They set a bad example which we don’t want any country in Africa to follow. So they must pay a price. I think this is the reason why, apart from diamonds, there is too much attention on Zimbabwe.”
Mbeki, through a spokesman, suggested that the newspaper had maliciously “twisted and manipulated the truth… to communicate falsehoods to achieve particular political outcomes.”
An audio recording and transcript of that particular comment showed Mbeki saying at the lecture: “I was saying earlier that we opposed, we tried to discourage Zimbabweans from taking the particular steps they took with regard to land reform, acknowledging that it was indeed necessary to have land reform, and I was saying they ignored us.
“It is, I think, exactly the manner in which they came at that question of land reform that offended other forces in the world who said, ‘This is wrong, we don’t like it’.
“And unlike us who said, ‘Well, they are not listening. They have done what they want to do about their country, we have to accept that’, these others said, ‘They have set a bad example which we don’t want anybody else in Africa and the rest of the world to follow, so they must pay a price for setting a bad example.’ Bad example, bad in the instance of the interests of these other people, not bad in terms of the interests of the people of Zimbabwe.”
Kahiya said another story, published on Wednesday, claiming President Robert Mugabe had offered MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai the job of first Vice President had also been denied by the former Prime Minister.
“We feel the stories fell short of the basic journalistic standards set in our ethics guidelines: how we put accuracy to the test, the AMH Code of Ethics and the AMH Pledge whose tenets are fundamental to our operations,” said Kahiya.
He said Alpha Media Holdings would “appoint an investigator to probe the acts of misconduct and in the event that he/she concludes Chimakure has a case to answer, the editor will be charged in terms of the AMH Code.”
Chimakure’s suspension was being effected to facilitate investigations into the “ethical infractions”, he added.
Chimakure joined last year from NewsDay’s sister paper, the Zimbabwe Independent.