FIRST Lady Grace Mugabe’s sudden U-turn on her tirade targeted at journalists and showering them with praises on Friday, could be a positive sign she has seen the light on media functions.
BY MOSES MATENGA
Grace last week praised journalists saying they were “my hardworking children”, but attacked senior party officials in the Zanu PF politburo and central committee for leaking party information to the media.
While addressing a women’s league rally in Gutu last Friday, Grace exonerated journalists, who wrote negatively about Zanu PF private meetings, and accused senior party officials of selling out.
Media Institute of Southern Africa-Zimbabwe (Misa) director, Nhlanhla Ngwenya, said the acknowledgement by Grace that journalists were simply doing their jobs was encouraging and refreshing.
“We are encouraged as Misa-Zimbabwe that she now realises that the media is a mirror of society and only plays its critical watchdog role,” he said.
“We were worried by her constant attacks on journalists for doing their job, but now we are happy that she now knows journalists are doing their job. We hope other politicians will follow suite and stop attacking journalists for doing their job. The media does not fabricate stories, but gets them from their sources.”
Media commentator, Takura Zhangazha, said Grace was seeking favour from journalists, after having attacked them for long.
“She is currying favour with journalists, while simultaneously issuing a warning to those that give them information about internal on goings in Zanu PF. This is dangerous for journalists and their sources. Journalism does not rely on kindness of the powerful. It’s a democratic right for the media to be free and to protect its sources,” he said.
Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe (VMCZ) executive director, Loughty Dube, said it was interesting and encouraging that Grace had finally seen the light and urged other politicians to follow.
“It’s good that she has had her Damascene moment and now sees that journalists are doing their job. That she said the information was coming from within the party may also allude to the truthfulness of some of the stories covered in the media about Zanu PF.
“It is pleasing that she now knows the media is useful and has a role to play in society. It’s interesting and we encourage other politicians who are yet to see the light, that the media has a key role to play and should not be attacked for doing their job,” he said.
Grace recently blasted, mainly private media journalists and donated rice and other goodies to some after accusing them of writing “nonsense” because they were hungry.
A few journalists reportedly received the donations, a move strongly condemned by many, who believe it is “unethical and disgraceful” according to the VMCZ.