Media organisations yesterday criticised Presidential spokesperson, George Charamba, and accused him of trying to gag the independent press for his own selfish ends.
This follows Charamba’s attack on Alpha Media Holdings publications and journalists over the way they covered the mysterious death of Retired Army General Solomon Mujuru in an inferno at his Alamein Farm in Beatrice, Harare South on Tuesday.
Charamba singled out the country’s popular daily – NewsDay and its sister weekly publication, the Zimbabwe Independent for their in-depth coverage of the mysterious death of the late former army commander, who was buried on Saturday at the National Heroes Acre.
He urged the Zimbabwe Media Commission to deal with the journalists.
However, the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) secretary-general Foster Dongozi yesterday said his organisation disagreed with Charamba, arguing journalists did their job professionally.
“We don’t agree with Charamba. Retired General Mujuru was a larger-than-life character. Not only was he a retired General, he was husband to the country’s Vice-President and so journalists make legitimate enquiries about any anomaly they may suspect which is normal in journalism. We don’t see that as a form of mischief,” Dongozi said.
Charamba was quoted in the State-owned Sunday Mail as saying: “There are confusionists in our midst. There is politics that thrives on mischief . . . Why are these questions being raised? Why ahead of the results of a forensic investigation?”
In the article, Charamba alleged NewsDay and Zimbabwe Independent went overboard in their reportage of Mujuru’s death.
But Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe chairman, Alec Muchadehama said the media must play its role without fear and give people full details of what might have led to Mujuru’s death.
“What the journalists are doing is part of the freedoms we are clamouring for. They must be free to report on anything without fear and live up to their mottos,” he said.
“The death of Mujuru leaves more questions than answers and people do not only want to know that he is a hero, but want to know what exactly happened. In the absence of an official position regarding his death, the media must not be curtailed.”