Govt warns private media | The Herald April 2, 2016
Government has sent stern warning to some media houses that are continuing to write falsehoods that are disrespectful of the person of the President. This followed a false story published by NewsDay yesterday claiming that President Mugabe was sleeping during a Press conference he held together with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo, Japan, this week.
Addressing journalists in Harare yesterday, Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Dr Christopher Mushohwe said such kind of gutter journalism should be restricted to social media.
“While Government remains committed to an agreed cordial working relationship with the media, my Ministry, as the arm of Government responsible for both the sector and as its spokesperson, would want to appeal and caution against (the) continuous, unwarranted, disrespectful and unprofessional onslaught on the person of the Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, His Excellency the President, Cde R.G. Mugabe,” said Dr Mushohwe.
“Government has followed with disgust a concocted malicious story that has been playing on the social media platform and on the Internet this week which suggested that His Excellency the President Cde R.G. Mugabe, had “slept” on the job during a joint Press briefing with Japanese Prime Minister, Mr Shinzo Abe, in Tokyo, Japan, this week.
“President Mugabe was on his feet as Mr Abe delivered his statement to the Press. Watching the said video clip, even at close range, one could see President Mugabe nodding his head in response to the message being delivered by the Japanese Prime Minister.
“That is why we were never bothered to try and dignify the malicious innuendo that the President was dosing off with a rebuttal.
“Any sane person watching that video clip would dismiss the propaganda story with the contempt it deserves.”
Dr Mushohwe added: “We have been forced as Government to react today (yesterday) to this malicious video story, disgusted by one of our own local tabloids, which saw it fit to attack the person of His Excellency the President in this cruel fashion by publishing the spiteful story, which they themselves know to be blatantly false.
“It is clear to us that whether it was an April fools’ prank or unintended, either way, the motive was to injure and damage the reputation of our President in a big way, which is very shameful because it flies in the face of our national values and culture. We do not expect this kind of unprofessional behaviour and wilful misconduct from our journalists.
“This kind of gutter journalism resides on the social media platforms and should not be allowed in the mainstream media.”
Dr Mushohwe said the mainstream media is bound by professional ethics, and fellow journalists should condemn their colleagues for bringing their profession into disrepute.
Said Dr Mushohwe: “As Government, while we uphold freedom of expression and media freedom, we strongly believe in the derogations that our Constitution prescribes in respect of these rights.
“Chapter Four of our Constitution which focuses on the Bill of Rights states in Part Two, Section 61, paragraph five that: ‘freedom of expression and freedom of the media exclude incitement of violence, advocacy of hatred or hate speech, malicious injury to a person’s reputation or dignity or malicious or unwarranted breach of a person’s right to privacy’.”