Moyo suspends Herald Editor over Gono story

via Moyo suspends Herald Editor over Gono story | SW Radio Africa  by Mthulisi Mathuthu  December 19, 2013 

Herald editor Caesar Zvayi has been suspended

In what is thought to be a manifestation of ZANU PF’s internal politics, information Minister Jonathan Moyo has suspended Herald editor Caesar Zvayi, over a story in which the paper criticized former Reserve Bank Governor, Gideon Gono.

The Herald has of late been publishing stories critical of Gono but Wednesday’s lead story titled ‘Gono, Biti ties raise suspicion’ apparently went too far. The story inferred that Gono was unfit for the Buhera senatorial post because he had hired MDC-T Secretary General Tendai Biti as his lawyer in a case in which he is fighting corruption charges from his former advisor Munyaradzi Kereke.

Moyo immediately ordered Zvayi’s suspension and issued a scathing statement accusing the Herald of what he said was an ‘undisguised smear campaign against Gono.’

Moyo fingered Kereke as the source of the story and accused the paper of indulging in ‘cheap politics’ by pushing Kereke’s views under the guise of varying ‘sources’. Moyo further accused the Herald of trying to bring the name of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces ‘into disrepute’ by quoting an unnamed ZANU PF politburo member with ‘close ties’ to the army claiming the party’s disquiet with Gono. Moyo expressed his shock, at what he said was ‘unprofessional and totally unacceptable’ journalism.

Moyo’s statement said Gono had every right to choose Biti as his lawyer because there are already intermarriages between ZANU PF and MDC people.

According to a Thursday Daily News report Zimpapers, publishers of the Herald, also issued a statement through their Group Editor in Chief, Pikirayi Deketeke, confirming Zvayi’s suspension.

Deketeke, known to be Moyo’s side kick, apologised to both Gono and ZANU PF for any harm that may have been caused by what he called the Herald’s ‘unfounded inferences.’

Charges of unprofessionalism against the Herald will be viewed as ironic by many, considering Moyo himself is known to routinely settle scores with adversaries through the state media. Also surprising is Moyo’s defence of Gono, with whom he is said to have fallen out with about five years ago over an unknown dispute.

Following his reappointment as information Minister Moyo initiated changes in the state media and in October he made Zvayi the editor of the Herald. Since then the paper has further pandered to ZANU PF factional politics, resulting in complaints from the party’s secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa.

Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe board member and former ZBC senior journalist, Tapfuma Machakaire, said in firing Zvayi Moyo was being ‘true to’ form. In his previous tenure as minister Moyo forced many state journalists out of their jobs, including Machakaire from the ZBC.

Machakaire added that it was also possible that most of the stories, including the one on Gono, had been forced on the Herald by senior government officials, including Moyo. In an interview with SW Radio Africa Machakaire said following the suspension of Zvayi state editors will be ‘fearful’ and will be forced to consult Moyo before publishing articles.

Zvayi started his journalism career in 2002 as a Herald columnist while he was still a teacher. He was to be to be taken on board as a full time political writer by Deketeke, with Moyo’s blessing, and was quickly made the political editor. In 2008 Zvayi, together with the Sunday Mail political editor Munyaradzi Huni, were added to the EU sanctions list on charges that they ‘whipped up terror campaigns before and during the elections’.

Zvayi was later appointed media lecturer at the University of Botswana, leading to protests from human rights and democracy activists. Botswana’s President Ian Khama obliged by ordering his immediate deportation.

Zvayi returned to the Herald as political editor until his promotion in October this year.