Is this about Steward Bank?

HARARE - Apart from the fact that the matter is still before the courts, and therefore sub judice, I also don’t know enough about the case in which Steward Bank successfully applied to the courts last week to be granted authority to search and seize documents from online business news agency, The Source, to offer an intelligent opinion on the merits of the case.

My interest in the matter is the dubious and decidedly hypocritical outrage that the case has elicited in some quarters, whose sense of justice and human rights is at best expedient, and also appears to depend on convenient circumstances and the players involved.

Among the latter-day media defenders who have jumped into the fray, feet first, in this matter is a motley group of government and media organisation representatives, as well as the country’s lickspittle State media who have never appeared to have both the awareness and moral courage to confront cut and dry human rights transgressions in the past.

Which begs the question why now?

Indeed, might there be more to this case than what meets the eye?

Could it be the cast of players involved, or is there some conspiracy that many of us don’t know about that makes this case that much more interesting to these hyenas than others?

Let me say up-front that I hold no brief for Steward Bank or its parent company, Econet Wireless. Or for lawyer-cum-businessman Tawanda Nyambirai, who is representing Steward Bank in this saga; or Econet founder Strive Masiyiwa who is curiously being sucked into the issue by some political charlatans.

And neither do I have any beef with The Source, which in my eyes is a fine source of business news indeed.

I also have no doubt that many of the people who have registered their disquiet about this matter mean well. But I’m not so sure about others.

Let us map the context in which all this is unravelling.

It is three weeks to the day since journalist Itai Dzamara was abducted by suspected State security agents in broad daylight, in Harare’s high density suburb of Glen View.

And there is still no trace of him anywhere  and nary a word from the politicians, lickspittle State media and industry comrades who are almost violently venting their spleen in the Steward Bank case.

Surely Dzamara’s kidnapping is a worthy, if not worthier cause for the government, State media and the esteemed leadership of the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (Zuj) to organise a similarly passionate toyi-toyi session like the one we saw against Nyambirai’s abortive media conference last Friday. No?

Let’s park this.

What about the malicious attacks and egregiously false claims against the Daily News by First Lady Grace Mugabe that former Vice President Joice Mujuru supposedly funds and owns a non-existent 10 percent stake in the newspaper?

And just in case Zuj and Zanu PF apparatchiks need reminding — police, clearly moving at the behest of “Calamity Grace”, went on to obtain a court order last December, authorising them to storm the newspaper’s offices and seize key documents pertaining to its public ownership structure.

Again, there was not a pip about this from the motley crew that is suddenly making it look like Armageddon, the catastrophic last battle between good and evil before the Day of Judgment, has finally visited planet Earth.

Could it be that Steward Bank and Econet Wireless are substantially easier opponents to take on for our latter-day media defenders than President Robert Mugabe’s feisty, take-no-prisoners wife, Grace?

Or — Lord forbid — that Hurricane Grace was not “trampling” on the rights of journalists in the case of the Daily News?

Again let’s park this.

Is it not universally accepted that the country’s public media, better known as lapdog State media, and which should serve all Zimbabweans and not just the narrow interests of Zanu PF bigwigs, fully embody the proverbial principle of “seeing no evil, hearing no evil and speaking no evil” — and that they never ever dare to question their master’s voice?

Indeed, it is an understatement to say that State newspapers have become nothing more than glorified Zanu PF newsletters, lying and abusing Zimbabweans with reckless abandon, albeit with ever diminishing propaganda returns.

Yet, not a word about this untenable state of affairs has come from many of the newly-emerging defenders of the media, who are quick to dive in if perceived lesser mortals are involved.

Which is why I said at the beginning of this opinion that perhaps human rights are divisible or dependent on the players involved, at least according to the gospel of some of these people.

If you are Dzamara or the Daily News, for example, you are on your own — especially if Grace, Zanu PF and the government are the alleged transgressors, as people at the Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe, for example, know only too well from painful experience.

Comments (4)

If The Source had good intentions,it/they should not have used illegal means to get "evidence" about Econet/Steward Bank. They should have used lawful means to get that evidence from Econet/Steward. They should also have afforded Econet/Steward opportunity to consent to publish news related to this so called evidence. If Econet/Steward had refused, The Source should have used lawful means( i.e. get a court order to obtain whatever evidence they wanted). What The Source did was not only CRIMINAL but in fact violated not just the rights of privacy of ECONET/STEWARD but also of individual clients whose confidential information is now in the hands of a dubious journalist who has the guts of stealing to get whatever they desire. Journalists, organisations and individual siding with the Source should know that this culture of lawlessness belongs with a certain party which can do anything to get what it wants including trampling upon citizens' rights. This is bad and unacceptable. We should begin to nurse a culture of lawfulness. We castigate lack of rule of law on one hand while on the other we steal information in order to write a story. Journalists are equivalent to policemen/women. They are the society's watchdog. The two must be principled,honest,law abiding, etc. and not the opposite. Justifying stealing confidential information to me is grossly absurd. Econet/Steward has every right to aggressively safeguard its rights and especially of its innocent clients of risk being sued itself.

mosquito - 30 March 2015

last sentence to read "its clients or risk being sued"

mosquito - 30 March 2015

we can do without econet guys, the telecomms giant is fast becoming a law unto itself

fire links - 30 March 2015

Itai Dzamara's saga is a sad reflection on the collective cowardice of Zimbabweans. The lack of robust activism is alarming. All we do is assign blame and hide from taking action. This is the sad reality and this is why Mugabe and his crew can get away with murder.

connie - 31 March 2015

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