'Charamba's remarks ill-advised'

HARARE - Presidential spokesperson and permanent secretary for Media, Information and Broadcasting Services, George Charamba’s recent threats that the country’s private media had turned into hate groups, hence the hammer could fall on them is just an “empty threat” meant to cow journalists so they do not continue debating Zanu PF’s succession, media activists have said.

Charamba also threatened to cause the enactment of a raft of new anti-private media laws, a development that would be cause for much banter. His threatening of stern legislation to deal with the media comes barely a month after President Robert Mugabe made similar remarks.

In recent days, First Lady Grace Mugabe also tore into journalists saying they need to “be taken to the psychologists (sic) to assess if your minds are right.”

The media activists said contrary to Charamba’s assertions, the media will always report on the leading story of the day and the uncertainty of our politics and glaring instability in the ruling elite as well as inconsistent government policy which are stories of the day.

Misa-Zimbabwe chairperson Kumbirai Mafunda said Charamba’s statements in an interview with the State-controlled weekly laid bare hideous intentions to muzzle the private media from reporting on the goings-on in the ruling Zanu PF, which is reportedly riddled with factionalism.

“In the interview, he denied the existence of factionalism within Zanu PF, casting the subject as a creation of the private media. Charamba’s discordant and strident denialism came barely three days after First Lady Grace Mugabe warned factionalists within the party of dire consequences if they did not change their ways.”

Mafunda said Misa-Zimbabwe dismisses Charamba’s remarks as ill-advised and smacking of intentions to stall and scuttle the outstanding alignment of the country’s media laws with the constitutional provisions that explicitly guarantee media freedom, freedom of expression and citizens’ right to access to information.

“In this digital information age, no amount of undemocratic legislative control will refract the reality on the ground. Nor will it stop unflattering information about Zanu PF, government and indeed any other political parties, filtering into the public domain.

“As a member of the international community and state party to several instruments on human rights, the government is duty-bound to ensure the promotion and protection of citizens’ liberties, including media freedom, however irritated they are by the media,” said Mafunda.

He added the media already have the Voluntary Media Commission of Zimbabwe (VMCZ) which is entertaining people who feel aggrieved by newspapers and journalists, “so we urge whoever is aggrieved to engage the VMCZ rather than threaten and intimidate journalists.

“We also advise those in government to exert their energies and resources in helping to locate a missing freelance journalist Itai Dzamara.”

VMCZ director Loughty Dube said it would be good and ideal for Charamba to recommend a new law to replace Aippa as already recognised in the new Constitution.

“Section 61 and 62 of the Constitution if correctly interpreted should see bad laws fall away and it would be sad for Charamba to recommend laws to deal with one section of the media.

“As all previous commissions and researches have shown, there are holistic measures needed towards professionalising the media and none of these is selective punishment of certain sections of the media.”

A media practitioner who preferred to remain anonymous said Charamba’s frustration with the private media is ironical as the State-owned media is also part of the factional fights. “It was at the centre of factional fights that saw (Joice) Mujuru (former vice president) being expelled.

“The private media cannot patch the cracks in Zanu PF or ignore them. If a Zanu PF legslator Mayor Wadyajena attacks a Zanu PF minister and Politburo member Jonathan Moyo, is the media supposed to ignore such a story?”

He urged Charamba to expend his energy in patching Zanu PF and leave the media to do what it does which is to report the story of the day.

“No doubt the media selects, interprets, angles a story but we all do that, none of us talks and engages in life like a computer — we make decisions, take sides, interpret events from as many biases and baggage that we carry.

“The media is not a mathematical book, but interprets and writes about social events from various frames. Instead of being angry with the private media, Charamba must celebrate and promote media diversity.

“In this day and age Zimbabwe cannot go back to the Stalinist era. As social interpreters, the media is bound to make mistakes, such mistakes cannot and should not be criminalised nor legislated.”

The media activist added that Charamba’s threat was empty.  “They need money from the west and will not do anything to bring unnecessary attention especially after the Itai Dzamara scandal which is haunting them.”

He said that various platforms for grievance settling exist at the VMCZ and the courts among others.

“It is also important to note that politics is a voluntary job and those in politics hence with power, including Mugabe, cannot insulate themselves from scrutiny and criticism. If they feel violated they have the option of resigning.”


Comments (6)

A boy had three fruits for his supper. When it was eating time,he broke the first fruit and saw small unwelcome creatures moving inside the fruit. He threw away the fruit in disgust. The hungry boy broke the second fruit,but from the bright light in the room,he was painfully aware of the infuriating motions in his fruit. So in his desperation,the boy reasoned:the problem is the light,if there was no light,i wouldn`t see the worms,and instead of throwing away my fruit,i should be having three whole fruits for supper. He convinced himself with his newfound wisdom to switch off the light! He switched off the light,and ate the rotten fruit!

Onward - 19 October 2015

Charamba just resign kana usingadi kuti tikunyore nevamwe vako. We will continue to write about you and your corruption. Remember you are not Zimbabwe as you feel but the people are Zimbabwe. Stop that rubbish iwe Charamba. Journalists are professionals who stand for the people and iwe you are just a voluntary worker for Zanu PF.

Dhurun'aru - 20 October 2015

Charamba just resign kana usingadi kuti tikunyore nevamwe vako. We will continue to write about you and your corruption. Remember you are not Zimbabwe as you feel but the people are Zimbabwe. Stop that rubbish iwe Charamba. Journalists are professionals who stand for the people and iwe you are just a voluntary worker for Zanu PF.

Dhurun'aru - 20 October 2015

A massive chunk of Zimbabwe live outside of Zimbabwe, how are you going to reign them in, factionalism on the eve of Mugabe's exit remains news and information about it will abound. With the advent of the Internet and social media these Klingons cannot perform their atrocities in a dark corner like the Matabele Massacre and it gets harder as new technology emerges.

Nooshie - 20 October 2015

If the cap fits just wear it and no noise.those who make a lot of noise about journalists have something to hide,if you have nothing wrong then why trouble yourself about journalists?Moreso there is freedom to think and express ourselves provided we dont infringe somebodys rights also.go ahead journalists but just do not sometimes get overzealous and give us irrational and falsehoods just to appease those who make your wallets fat.be just professional as a good journalist his work is testimony

carson macate - 20 October 2015

George you are feeling the hit , i once told you that you are still living in the old age this is the 21st century were you cannot manage the information , when you think you are hiding we will be seeing you and we will expose you , can you pay back the money which you are stealing from PSMAS , thats people's hard earned money . You are hiding behind Mugabe's name doing all the evil things . The computer has a back up memory if you think you are smart you will see . You have the same ideology like Abel Muzoriwa , who didn't believe in people's power and hiding behind the church but the truth came out . Wabaiwa panorwadza , there is a new constitution do through away you evil laws and you are threatening people , what have you drank . ICHO

Mudhara - 22 October 2015

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