Andrew Kunambura 1 March 2018
HARARE – Two journalists from the State-run Zimbabwe Broadcasting
Corporation (ZBC) have set tongues wagging by running for political office
while still being employed by the perennially loss-making parastatal.
The scribes Tendai Munengwa and Andrew Neshamba have been “campaigning” on
a ruling party ticket in rural Mt Darwin South constituency in Mashonaland
Central even though dates for primary polls are still to be pronounced.
Even worse, while it is everyone’s democratic right to run for political
office, the fact that the journalists are still employed by ZBC has raised
serious ethical questions.
ZBC has faced a barrage of criticism for partisan reporting in favour of
Zanu PF, and lampooning rivals of the ruling party in its bulletins.
Peeved by its brazen leanings towards Zanu PF, the opposition parties have
been pushing for electoral reforms encompassing demands to make ZBC a
truly public broadcaster, whose reportage should be non-partisan.
Munengwa and Neshamba have both gone on paid leave to prepare their
campaign strategies and have been distributing “campaign” materials and
conducting meetings in Mt Darwin South.
Munengwa denied that he has been campaigning, saying he only distributed
calendars with the intention of promoting President Emmerson Mnangagwa in
the constituency and donated cement to two schools.
“I only distributed calendars which promote the #ED Has My Vote campaign
and if you check the calendar, the president’s picture is bigger than
mine. I have also donated cement to two schools in the constituency and
this cannot be read as campaigning,” he said.
Asked about the ethical professional infractions involved in his
legislative bid, Munengwa said he had a personal arrangement with the ZBC,
which permitted him to attempt to run for public office.
“The policy at ZBC is that we are free to run for public office. I have an
arrangement with my employer but unfortunately, it is between us and I am
not at liberty to disclose the details involved,” he said.
Neshamba could not be reached for comment.
Yesterday, ZBC chief executive officer Patrick Mavhura came to the defence
of his employees saying the public broadcaster has an arrangement with
Munengwa and Neshamba that allows them to return to work in the event that
they lose the election.
“At ZBC, our policy is that employees are permitted to run for public
office. They utilise their leave days; they don’t use company time to go
on their campaigns,” said Mavhura.
“The arrangement is such that when one wins, he or she immediately resigns
but if they lose the election, they can always come back to work. So that
is the arrangement with those gentlemen, we have cleared them to go on
their campaigns utilising their leave days. They had to sort out their
programmes accordingly,” he added.
But their antics have infuriated Zanu PF’s provincial co-ordinating
committee (PCC) in Mashonaland West, which has warned against premature
Zanu PF insiders who attended a PCC meeting convened by Kazembe Kazembe,
the party’s provincial chairperson for Mashonaland Central, told the Daily
News that Munengwa’s campaign poster was hoisted by the minister of
Sports, Arts and Recreation as a demonstration of material which is not
permissible until the campaign period has been opened to aspiring
“He (Kazembe) had a poster of Munengwa and which he said was currently not
being allowed. He went on to state that if he continues distributing such
material, he would be disqualified when campaigns get officially
underway,” said a PCC member who declined to be named.
Kazembe confirmed warning errant party members against premature campaigns
but claimed no names were mentioned at the Saturday meeting held in
“There was no name mentioned, we just said people must stop campaigning
prematurely because the party is yet to announce that it was opening up
contests. So until such a time, no one is allowed to conduct campaigns and
this is in line with the party’s position,” said Kazembe.
Mt Darwin South constituency was left without a Member of Parliament after
the incumbent Saviour Kasukuwere was dismissed from Zanu PF in November
last year, along with several party officials linked to the Generation 40
Kasukuwere lost the seat after he was kicked out of the party at the
height of an army-led operation that toppled former president Robert
He is believed to have fled into exile.
Munengwa and Neshamba are likely to battle it out in primary elections
with the ruling party’s youth national political commissar, Godfrey
Tsenengamu – who confirmed his interest in the constituency – and
businessman James Makamba, who is reportedly also eyeing the seat.