Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo said he was alarmed by recent insinuations by former Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor, Dr Gideon Gono, that he was being blacked out from the media.
Prof Moyo, who was addressing the inaugural meeting of the Information and Media Panel of Inquiry in Harare yesterday, said: “I was even alarmed the other week when my good friend the former Governor suggested that there are some people who don’t want anything about him covered.
“He told the President some thing to that effect. Well, when a person feels like there is a problem, of course, they have the right to say what they are saying.
“But when what they are saying, if true, sounds like a major affront to civilised conduct, then we must take note. If what he alleges is true then it is serious and we must do something about that. We should not have a situation where anyone has power to block other people from being covered by the media. It is undesirable.”
Prof Moyo quipped that if it was true that Dr Gono was being blacked out, he could use his newspaper (The Financial Gazette) to publish what he wanted.
“Although in jest when I heard that my friend had said that, I said he can’t be the one saying this because he has his own newspaper,” said Prof Moyo. “If these guys are not covering you, just use your own newspaper for goodness’ sake. What’s your problem?
“It should be the other guy who doesn’t have a platform, there so many people without platforms and only very few who have newspapers. And those who have newspapers are always writing about themselves.
“And this friend of mine, I saw that in fact he knows how to use his newspapers. If he has a court case he will reproduce the entire affidavit of his and put it on the front page and won’t put the other guy’s responding affidavit. Who cares?
“We are in a possessive media. Either you possess it or you don’t. If you possess it you tell your story and that’s how it goes, but that’s not good for our country.”
Prof Moyo added: “Can you imagine how ridiculous it would be for (former US Federal Reserve chair) Ben Bernanke to go to (US President Barack) Obama and say ‘the Washington Post is refusing to cover me these days’?
“They are just covering (incumbent Federal Reserve chair) Janet Yellen and I am not covered. But, we also have a media when such things are said, it doesn’t unpack them and cover them in such a way that we don’t have a repeat; because if there is situation like that we should get to the bottom of it.
“From a factual point of view, it should be possible to factually say yes there is this kind of thing, the ones who are doing it are so and so, so that they never do it again.
“But if the one alleging it is also telling a lie the media should say this guy was not telling the truth. But in Zimbabwe our media set up is such that you can’t get to the bottom of the matter. You are left hanging.”
On the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, Prof Moyo said a new culture had come to the public broadcaster following the reversal of a management decision to appoint some staff to new positions without consulting the Ministry or ZBC board.
Prof Moyo said the board’s reversal of senior re-assignments was in line with Government’s efforts to engender good corporate governance in parastatals.
“We have a management team that was used to taking decisions on their own without referring to the relevant authorities and they have been told that if you were doing this yesterday you can no longer it that today.”
Prof Moyo said the ministry had nothing to do with the arrest and subsequent prosecution of suspended ZBC chief executive officer, Mr Happison Muchechetere.
“We didn’t know about it before it happened and we are not the complainant. The public record is very clear. We made a commitment on the 14th November 2013 that there were very serious problems at ZBC which, among other things, led to the corporation’s failure to meet the salaries of its workers with a backlog of some six or seven months, and that in trying to resolve that backlog we encountered a number of issues going back as far as 2009, which issues could only be better understood with the benefit of forensic audit.”The Herald