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Media fraternity calls Charamba to order – NewsDay Zimbabwe

BY STAFF REPORTERS STAKEHOLDERS in the media industry yesterday warned government against threatening media organisations and interfering in editorial policies of independent newspapers as it posed serious danger to Press freedoms and the safety of practitioners. This came after President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s spokesperson George Charamba yesterday launched a barrage of tweets on his handle @Jamwanda2, attacking NewsDay and its editor, Wisdom Mdzungairi, for not reporting South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s anti-sanctionas call at the United Nations General Assembly. Charamba accused NewsDay of pursuing an “anti-Zanu PF agenda” and threatened unspecified action. He accused NewsDay of selectively ignoring Ramaphosa’s address and concentrating on the remarks by his International Relations minister Nalade Pandor, who challenged Zanu PF to be honest about the crisis in the country. “The dutifully opinionated editor of NewsDay avoids and ignores that address with the frightened care of a 19th Century man avoiding a leper. Instead, the wise Editor foregrounds some errant and non-committal comments by some South African minister who is an appointee of President Ramaphosa,” Charamba tweeted. “Whatever it is the NewsDay editor is angling for won’t remain disguised for too long. His hostile editorial thrust simply has exceeded journalistic limits. It is now an anti-Zanu PF, anti-government and anti-country crusade run consistently,” Charamba wrote. “When a newspaper makes it its duty to play opposition to government of the day, well, it may be time to call it to order and invite it to formalise its chosen and desired role of opposition, but without hiding behind the parapet of the noble profession of journalism.” He warned of unspecified consequences. “They do that, they cross the line of professionalism which is their only shield against reactions that may inevitably come by way of consequences. The Constitution does not privilege editors …” He accused NewsDay of ignoring stories that paint government in good light, including Tuesday’s currency auction that he claims “finds the Zim dollar retaining its firming path which has been running for three sales in succession”. But Zimbabwe National Editor’s Forum (Zinef) national director Njabulo Ncube said the threats on NewsDay and its editor were uncalled for and Mnangagwa must rein in his lieutenants. “We cannot allow civil servants to abuse journalists. Journalism is a profession. Let civil servants allow journalists to work because what we have noticed is there is lot of interference in the State media and we don’t want that to cascade to private media,” Ncube said. He said the attack would result in Zanu PF militia targeting NewsDay journalists. Media Alliance of Zimbabwe chairperson Tabani Moyo said government officials should not interfere in the operations of media outlets. “The good thing about Mr Charamba’s threats is that he is not the editor of the paper, so he cannot decide the content that comes out in the paper,” Moyo said. “We stand firmly behind independent jo

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