NewsDay under threat

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Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) chairman Godfrey Majonga has dismissed as personal views threats by commissioner Christopher Mutsvangwa and former Information minister Jonathan Moyo to withdraw NewsDay’s operating licence.

This follows remarks by Mutsvangwa, Zimbabwe’s former Ambassador to China and member of the ZMC , and Moyo on State-run ZTV on Thursday where they accused NewsDay of denigrating President Robert Mugabe.

“It’s not ZMC’s stance, it was his personal opinion as a political analyst. As the Media Commission, we are striving to improve the standard of journalism in the country so that journalists rely on facts and less on speculation,” said Majonga.

The pair cited a story published in Wednesday’s issue of NewsDay titled “Mugabe in ‘fix’” and described it as an example of bad journalism that was reportedly being practised by the private media.

“This is the kind of irresponsible journalism we don’t want. Such publications risk losing their licences,” said Mutsvangwa. He said starting next year, the commission would seriously look at such issues.

Moyo accused NewsDay of deliberately denigrating President Mugabe by spinning stories to push a certain “agenda”.

“There is nothing new in the story. They used a past problem to spin the story so that they push a certain agenda of denigrating the President. The President didn’t fail to travel to North Korea because of the Air Zimbabwe aircraft.

“The truth of the matter is the North Koreans treated the burial of their leader as a family affair. There’s not even one international dignitary who was invited to the burial as it was their private affair,” he said.

Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe (VMCZ) executive director Takura Zhangazha castigated the threats and described them as unfortunate.

“It’s also unfortunate for a political person like Professor Moyo to accuse the media of lying without seeking recourse or retraction from the publication. As VMCZ, we don’t accept any threats against the media or the use of criminal defamation as democratic. They are patently undemocratic,” he said. Media Institute of Southern Africa Zimbabwe chapter director Nhlanhla Ngwenya said:

“On our part, it’s a vindication, remember such threats emanated from (Information minister Webster) Shamu that they would crack down on the private media.

“Now the evidence is there for everyone to see. Scrutiny and denigration are two different things. If they now bar people in public office to be subjected to scrutiny and for media houses to practise journalism freely, then they should not claim that Zimbabwe has a free media.”