CHINHOYI – Businessman-cum-politician Temba Mliswa has castigated individuals who have filed million-dollar lawsuits against media houses for publishing “unsavoury” news articles about them, describing their actions as tantamount to stifling media freedom.
REPORT BY OWN CORRESPONDENT
Speaking during the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) Mashonaland West Journalism and Media Awards 2012 dinner at a local hotel at the weekend, Mliswa reiterated the need for media self-regulation, but urged practitioners to be professional and ethical in their reportage.
He took aim at litigants who have opened lawsuits against newspapers for publishing stories deemed unfavourable.
“We have observed a trend in which some people have filed lawsuits against certain newspapers claiming huge sums of money.
Some of the figures are much more than what Finance minister (Tendai Biti) would even allocate a ministry in his National Budget. If that was the proper way to make money, then I would have joined the queue and I would have made billions myself,” said Mliswa, who is also Zimbabwe Economic Empowerment Council president.
“These lawsuits are alien to us as Africans. They infringe on media freedom. We need journalists and we also demand an environment in which reporters are left to do their work unhindered, professionally and ethically.”
Mliswa’s remarks came in the wake of an onslaught on independent newspapers such as NewsDay, The Standard, Zimbabwe Independent and Daily News by litigants, mostly senior government officials and politicians, seeking to gag the Press from reporting objectively on newsworthy stories.
Meanwhile, NewsDay Mashonaland West correspondent James Muonwa emerged the biggest winner after scooping two awards in the Municipal and Community Development Reporter of the Year categories.
Other winners included ZBC’s Regis Mhako (Health), New Ziana’s pair of Chenesai Matsikidze (Human Rights) and Luther Muteeri (Agriculture), The Herald’s Walter Nyamukondiwa (Crimes/Courts), ZBC’s Tambaoga Gora (Photographer) and Midlands State University (MSU) student intern Conrad Mupesa (Most Promising).
Platinum mining giants, Zimplats, bankrolled the awards.