ZBC journalists expose Zanu PF leanings

HARARE - Two journalists from the State-run Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) have set tongues wagging by running for political office while still being employed by the perennially loss-making parastatal.

The scribes Tendai Munengwa and Andrew Neshamba have been “campaigning” on a ruling party ticket in rural Mt Darwin South constituency in Mashonaland Central even though dates for primary polls are still to be pronounced.

Even worse, while it is everyone’s democratic right to run for political office, the fact that the journalists are still employed by ZBC has raised serious ethical questions.

ZBC has faced a barrage of criticism for partisan reporting in favour of Zanu PF, and lampooning rivals of the ruling party in its bulletins.

Peeved by its brazen leanings towards Zanu PF, the opposition parties have been pushing for electoral reforms encompassing demands to make ZBC a truly public broadcaster, whose reportage should be non-partisan.

Munengwa and Neshamba have both gone on paid leave to prepare their campaign strategies and have been distributing “campaign” materials and conducting meetings in Mt Darwin South.

Munengwa denied that he has been campaigning, saying he only distributed calendars with the intention of promoting President Emmerson Mnangagwa in the constituency and donated cement to two schools.

“I only distributed calendars which promote the #ED Has My Vote campaign and if you check the calendar, the president’s picture is bigger than mine. I have also donated cement to two schools in the constituency and this cannot be read as campaigning,” he said.

Asked about the ethical professional infractions involved in his legislative bid, Munengwa said he had a personal arrangement with the ZBC, which permitted him to attempt to run for public office.

“The policy at ZBC is that we are free to run for public office. I have an arrangement with my employer but unfortunately, it is between us and I am not at liberty to disclose the details involved,” he said.

Neshamba could not be reached for comment.

Yesterday, ZBC chief executive officer Patrick Mavhura came to the defence of his employees saying the public broadcaster has an arrangement with Munengwa and Neshamba that allows them to return to work in the event that they lose the election.

“At ZBC, our policy is that employees are permitted to run for public office. They utilise their leave days; they don’t use company time to go on their campaigns,” said Mavhura.

“The arrangement is such that when one wins, he or she immediately resigns but if they lose the election, they can always come back to work. So that is the arrangement with those gentlemen, we have cleared them to go on their campaigns utilising their leave days. They had to sort out their programmes accordingly,” he added.

But their antics have infuriated Zanu PF’s provincial co-ordinating committee (PCC) in Mashonaland West, which has warned against premature campaigning.

Zanu PF insiders who attended a PCC meeting convened by Kazembe Kazembe, the party’s provincial chairperson for Mashonaland Central, told the Daily News that Munengwa’s campaign poster was hoisted by the minister of Sports, Arts and Recreation as a demonstration of material which is not permissible until the campaign period has been opened to aspiring candidates.

“He (Kazembe) had a poster of Munengwa and which he said was currently not being allowed. He went on to state that if he continues distributing such material, he would be disqualified when campaigns get officially underway,” said a PCC member who declined to be named.

Kazembe confirmed warning errant party members against premature campaigns but claimed no names were mentioned at the Saturday meeting held in Bindura.

“There was no name mentioned, we just said people must stop campaigning prematurely because the party is yet to announce that it was opening up contests. So until such a time, no one is allowed to conduct campaigns and this is in line with the party’s position,” said Kazembe.

Mt Darwin South constituency was left without a Member of Parliament after the incumbent Saviour Kasukuwere was dismissed from Zanu PF in November last year, along with several party officials linked to the Generation 40 faction.

Kasukuwere lost the seat after he was kicked out of the party at the height of an army-led operation that toppled former president Robert Mugabe.

He is believed to have fled into exile.

Munengwa and Neshamba are likely to battle it out in primary elections with the ruling party’s youth national political commissar, Godfrey Tsenengamu — who confirmed his interest in the constituency — and businessman James Makamba, who is reportedly also eyeing the seat.

Comments (1)

May God and our Ancestors in the spiritual realm help us stop such liars from ever getting elected to parliament. These people are morally and ethically , DEAD.

Sekuru Ndoronga - 1 March 2018

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