State media feel heat of Zanu PF factionalism

via State media feel heat of Zanu PF factionalism – DailyNews Live 9 September 2014

HARARE – State media, including the beleaguered Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) and Zimpapers titles such as The Herald and the Sunday Mail, are reeling from worsening infighting within Zanu PF.

Staff members at the media houses confirmed to the Daily News yesterday that they were increasingly being sucked into the deadly factional fights, with negative consequences for the balance and integrity of news content delivered by the organisations.

A senior Zimpapers staffer who asked not to be named fearing victimisation said editorial members within the stable were “routinely either being lobbied aggressively or being threatened blatantly” to side with one or the other Zanu PF faction fighting for control of the party.

“We are caught between the proverbial rock and hard place where we cannot win either way as this brutal war pits comrades against other comrades. This is definitely a new and traumatic experience in this propaganda war for many of us as we were used to a situation where it was Zanu PF versus the rest, not this.

“The situation is now so bad that many senior people here (at Zimpapers) would leave if they had economic choices. But then where does one go in this market, even after the traumatic (Edmund) Kudzayi episode?” he asked rhetorically.

Kudzayi is the Sunday Mail editor who has been sensationally fingered by the State as one of the brains behind the once popular and faceless Facebook phenomenon, Baba Jukwa, that wreaked havoc within Zanu PF ahead of last year’s harmonised elections. His case is before the courts and he is out on bail.

A ZBC employee who also requested anonymity said fear and interference with news processes, which had traditionally been seen as bad at Pockets Hill, had moved a notch up since Zanu PF’s disputed victory in last year’s national polls.

“The situation is insane here. It is bad enough that we do not have the resources to do our job anyway, but this factionalism within the party (Zanu PF) has made things 10 times worse, and virtually all senior party leaders are players in this game.

“At the moment, no one trusts anyone here, and no one seems to know what should be done and how on a day to day basis.

“Unfortunately, this is creating terrible paralysis and impacting negatively on news content.

“As you know, a senior editorial member was recently put on suspension on spurious grounds when the real reason had everything to do with factionalism inside Zanu PF. Somebody either in government or in the party has to do something urgently before all State media collapse completely,” he said.

As a way of trying to deal with the factionalism, The Herald ran a front page story on this and also mounted a spirited defence of itself in an unusual comment in its edition yesterday.

The newspaper, now viewed by many within Zanu PF itself as the heartbeat of the State propaganda machinery, even quoted party spokesperson Rugare Gumbo openly admonishing the daily for trying to blame the independent media for the chaos wracking Zanu PF.

“First look in your own eye because you are the first culprits to violate that Politburo resolution,” Gumbo told the paper.

“After I have briefed you that the Politburo resolved that the national chairman (Cde Simon Khaya Moyo) was directed to deal with the suspension of youth leaders, you went on to quote your sources in the Politburo saying the national chairman was directed to reverse the suspensions.

“Why (then) do you think it is wrong for others to quote sources yet you are doing the same?” The Herald further quoted Gumbo saying.

Gumbo also pointedly rebuked The Herald in the story saying that as the party’s spokesperson, there was nothing wrong with him giving comments to private media houses, as long as he was defending the party and the president.

“I am the spokesperson of the party,” he said. “If I say something to the private papers denigrating the party and the president then that is wrong, but if I am defending the party and the president what is wrong about that?”

“Depolarisation requires me to talk to everybody provided that I am toeing the party line,” he said.

The move has drawn howls of protests from a variety of media quarters . The Zimbabwe Chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa-Zimbabwe) said it was a reason for serious concern if media freedom is subject to control of its content.

The move amounts to the creation of a censorship authority and Zimbabwe was moving backward toward a communist surveillance dictatorship.

“We strongly condemn this, especially in this new constitutional dispensation,” Misa Zimbabwe national director Nhlanhla Ngwenya said.

“It sets a dangerous precedent. The pronouncement is ultra vires the new Constitution and all freedoms guaranteed to all Zimbabweans, including Zanu PF officials. We cant live in information darkness.”

Brian Mangwende, the Zimbabwe National Editors Forum chairman said: “Every citizen has a right to impart, disseminate and receive information as long as it does not threaten the national security of the country. So if anybody is trying to gag the press, private or public that will be folly of them.”


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    Wish I could feel some sympathy for you guys but No. Your reporting at the best of times is heavily tilted towards ZANU-PF. I doubt you would know impartiality if it hit you square in the face. So deal with it.

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      Well said Lucy! I stopped buying the Herald 14 years ago. It used to be a highlight of my day but now I wouldn’t use it for toilet paper.

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    Imagine that, the Herald is concerned about the “negative consequences for the balance and integrity of news content delivered by the organisations.” Where was this concern during the 2013 elections?

    It makes me very happy to hear the Herald staff wailing about their situation, as in, ““At the moment, no one trusts anyone here, and no one seems to know what should be done and how on a day to day basis.” And still later, “Somebody either in government or in the party has to do something urgently before all State media collapse completely.” Wouldn’t that be a grand thing? Just imagine if there was no State media? Hurrah!

    This whole situation has echoes of when ZANU-PF cry about their own crooks, er, I mean comrades, rigging the party’s elections. More of the pot calling the kettle black… or rather the pot calling itself black!

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    Mapingu 10 years ago

    These media buffoons @ Herald, ZBC & other all other zanunized media institutions must spare us their nonsensical complaints. They brought it upon themselves the very day the decided to through all traces of professionalism away in favour of the ‘get-rich-quickly by singing zanu pf propaganda theory’. May be now they realize, its merely a theory not a law. You sing all zanu pf slogans until your mouth raptures and still die with nothing to show for it; and not only that but also with the burden of your conscience too high for you too carry.

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    The media house is dragged they can not do as they wish. Only to do the will of who is paying. Then if you can not do it yo go away with your proffession somewhere else

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    John Thomas 10 years ago

    Balance and integrity are not known at The Herald

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    Mbezzo 10 years ago

    Muchamama hamusati madini december is yet to come. Where will u stand? Nhasi ndezvenyuwo

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    Justice 10 years ago

    The chickens are coming home to roost!

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    Andy Cool 10 years ago

    If you are professionals defect and join the independent papers @ least you wil be able to live with your consionce
    Right now ther is no sympathy ftom us the general ppls

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    Diodotus 10 years ago

    It’s quite astounding that they should insist that they are caught between a ‘rock’ and a ‘hard place’! Is this what the anxiety is about? That they cannot decide who to side with? Fools! Their job is to be impartial in the first place. The cardinal principle of honourable journalism is political impartiality. Though this is an ideal and you’d be hard-pressed to find a completely politically neutral tabloid, the levels of partisanship in our country are disgusting really. The shock should be that we even allow this partiality as a nation. Forget that you can’t choose who to side with, you should side no-one but the truth. The truth is what you should report. I have sympathy for the tabloids not because of their predicament in having to choose a side but their predicament in the honourable duty to impartial reporting that they have aborted. Pitiful!

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    wat a mess .lets wait and see who is gonna clean up. Now the sales of the herald paper is going to shoot up bcz people are now eager to see its presentation of da case