The Zimbabwe National Editors Forum (ZINEF) says it is opening a probe into a foiled bribery attempt by a ‘veteran broadcaster’ and two local journalists who allegedly pestered their media colleague – Nyaradzo Nyere – to abandon her investigation into a tobacco farmers payment scandal by a contracting firm, in exchange for a US$2 000 reward.
This follows revelations shared in The Standard this Sunday by Nyere who says she adamantly declined attempts by her media colleagues (names supplied) to drop the story.
The two, apparently acting on behalf of the company – Voedsel Tobacco International – approached her differently on two separate occasions to try and sweet-talk her into dropping her investigation.
The said veteran broadcaster’s culpability in the matter was through an audible phone call to one of the emissary journalists in her presence who was enquiring if she has accepted the bribe.
Nyere declined the bribe and elected to expose her colleagues.
Her story had been commissioned by Information for Development Trust (IDT), a local media-based NGO sponsoring local journalists to produce investigative pieces into rampant corruption within the country’s public sector.
“Scribe B did not mince his words. He wanted me to kill the story for money. Like Scribe A, he offered a US$2 000 bribe, money which he said he had already been given by the Voedsel management,” Nyere says in part.
ZINEF has been first among the country’s journalist groups to take a stand against the act, with the group’s coordinator Njabulo Ncube saying a committee of former and current editors will be put in place to probe the claims.
“Zinef has taken not of corruption allegations published in one of the leading Sunday newspapers today,” Ncube said.
“Zinef is concerned by these allegations which cast aspersions about the practice of journalism in Zimbabwe and takes the contents of the article seriously.
“Zinef will be appointing a committee of former and current editors and other senior journalists to assist in investigating the issues that are arising from the latest newspaper reports.”
Ncube added, “Zinef members and all stakeholders will be notified of the progress of the inquiry into this issue which has cast a dark-black cloud on the practice of our journalism in Zimbabwe.
“Zinef does not condone corruption in the media and pledges that all those editors and journalists in the alleged scandal/scandals will be investigated so that they try and deal with the scourge.”
Brown envelop journalism, as the cliché goes, is very rampant within the Zimbabwean media space amid continued poor wages paid to scribes by employers.
The condemnable practice is viewed as a major drawback to ending high level corruption that continues to bleed the country of billions of dollars annually.