Media should remain focussed on graft

via Media should remain focussed on graft – DailyNews Live by Conrad Nyamutata  18 FEBRUARY 2014 

President Robert Mugabe’s extraordinarily long stay in power has spawned what someone once called “succession journalism.”

He was describing increased media focus over the years on Zanu PF’s power struggles that had resulted in a saturation of stories about Mugabe’s possible successor.

The media’s preoccupation with Mugabe’s potential successor is understandable; it is a product of the Zanu PF leader’s protracted rule.

It is natural for the media to be curious about the person who might take over leadership of the former liberation party.

That person might also assume the highest executive seat in the country from one of the longest-serving rulers in the world.

Therefore, the focus on succession in Zanu PF is a legitimate journalistic pursuit.

Conflict often makes news than peace. The media are fascinated by personal, institutional or national conflict. Zanu PF, as a political institution, appears to be facing internecine conflict over power.  The media have, for some time now, attempted to capture the personal power duel, reportedly pitting Joice Mujuru against Emmerson Mnangagwa as Mugabe’s potential successors.

However, in recent weeks, we have witnessed the downside of “succession journalism.”

In the past month or so, the media have diligently exposed outrageous salaries earned by executives as well as possible cases of corruption at State enterprises.

The revelations have stunned the public. There are possible cases of corruption.

Corruption affects the ordinary man. It must, therefore, be eliminated for the common good.

It is credit to the media that these cases have been unfurled.

However recently, some media reports on these possible cases of corruption have assumed another news frame.

The media now link, or have been persuaded to believe, the uncovering of the scandals have something to do with the factional attrition within Zanu PF.

According to the reports, the targets of the salary and corruption revelations belong to the Mujuru faction.

Mujuru herself appeared to chastise the media for its zestful coverage of the cases — a move seen to be an

attempt to protect members of her camp — although she seemed to backtrack on the comments later.

On the other hand, Mnangagwa was unambiguous about the pursuit of culprits.

These seemingly contradictory positions lent further credence to the reportedly on-going power struggles battles between the two.

It is, however, most unfortunate that the reportage on the unfolding salary scandals and corruption has assumed the factional dimension. The media are now missing the forest for the trees.

Infusing the succession element into what appears to be clear cases of improprieties at State enterprises, risks obfuscating a matter of genuine public concern. Secondly, owing to this apparent diversion, the media risk replacing the real victims of the unravelled scandals.

As now appears to be the case, people from the so-called Mujuru faction are now posing as the “victims” in this scenario, apparently targeted by a rival camp.

Notwithstanding the fact that these claims are questionable, these people are not, in any case, the real victims of the unfolding perfidy at public institutions.

Representatives of these factions, usually timid to show face, have a single motive; that is, to secure power. We risk pursuing party political agendas of these faceless people at the expense of the genuine concerns of the general public.

The real victims of the corporate malfeasances at State institutions are the common people who have been denied the benefits of a national resource, access to medical aid, essential council services and so on.

“Succession journalism” will be with us for as long as Mugabe is in power. It has its merits.

At its best, it helps the public assess the suitability of candidates seeking to replace Mugabe.

But at its worst, it now seems to persuade us to rationalise every issue through the prism of the Mujuru/Mnangagwa binary.

In this case, “succession journalism” threatens to muddy the waters, and subsume a matter of public concern.  The media should be wary of political schemers playing victim in their own power struggles, and now diverting attention from a crucial matter that needs to be addressed.

These power-seekers are not the real victims. It is the public who are the real victims of the rot.



  • comment-avatar

    Some good mature staff there Nyamutata. Many people are buffled by this “succession” journalism spearhearded by non other than JOnathan Moyo. And truely speaking the Chronicle is not fighting any corruption but deliberately publishing lies, stories of hear say which they never bother to investigate in order to publish facts. there is even suspicion that one particular family in Matabeleland South ha

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    There is suspicion that the Chronicle is publishing praises of one family from Matabeleland South because some journalist has been bribed. This paper is not fighting any corruption but hiding behind this cloud of “succession” journalism and diversion from the real issues affecting the people. This is not to say they must not publish or write stories they hear but professional journalism and ethics demand that they substantiate their stories other wise they publish what lunatics or corrupt individuals say.

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    I also appears that the media is now slow in investigating the other institutions/parastatals on the salary issues. Does this mean that bribes are now taking effect. May you also update the public on what is happening at all the parastatals. ZIMRA, NRZ, ZINWA, ZESA, GMB, ZMDC etc. It seems as if only one media house is doing the job and the rest are copying and pasting. Why are you not scattering yourselves around all these institutions, so that we have different reports on different from your findings. I thought you guys have got press clubs where you meet to discuss on how you can cover all the areas in a short space of time. I am sure there are a lot of bosses who are busy covering their backs, of which the more time you take the less information you will get.

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    Mutorwa 8 years ago

    We also want to hear about Obert Mpofu; Masimirembwa; Mnangagwa and his DRC Mines like Geca Mines; Military bosses and their excapeds in Chiadzwa. The private jets flying in and out at Mutare airbase and other airports exporting diamonds through the back door etc.

    SIRDC has been taking money from the fiscus for over ten years now with nothing to show for it other that Mercedes vehicles for the top brass. Even grass is overgrowing in the grounds with no one making any attempt to give a samplence of human activity there.