By Staff Reporter
ZIMBABWEAN media editors have differed on whether to work with exiled former information minister Jonathan Moyo’s (pictured) Information and Media Panel of Inquiry (IMPI) report although united in demanding a safer working space from authorities.
This was at a Zimbabwe National Editors Forum (Zinef) workshop in Kadoma on Saturday.
The event was meant to equip both public and private media gatekeepers with mental tools needed to understand the new biometric voter registration process and the laws involved.
It was also a chance by editors to think deeply on how to navigate a media terrain amid uncertainties brought by a chilling military warning recently for journalists to report “responsibly”.
But while contributing to a declaration on “the media we want”, there was heated debate when suggestions were made on whether to also adopt IMPI in their new working culture.
“The report has been viewed as a Jonathan Moyo project. While it is good and quite comprehensive, the timing of such a position by editors may not be good. Let us just pick issues from it and not be too explicit that we are adopting IMPI,” one of the editors from state media said.
The 2014 IMPI report, the country’s most wide ranging enquiry into the state of the country’s broader media, was dismissed by Moyo’s Zanu PF rivals as a personal document by the controversial politician.
The government sanctioned inquiry which gobbled $1,6 million was widely thought to be a clever attempt by the embattled G40 kingpin to bribe editors who formed his IMPI entourage with handsome allowances.
What followed was a fierce attempt by the once ruthless minister to block bitter rival and current President Emmerson Mnangagwa ascension to the helm of the country through the use of the media.
Moyo was last month hounded into exile with his expensively authored document still gathering dust in government offices with rivals ignoring calls for its adoption.
A suggestion to adopt contents of the document by former Alpha Media Holdings group editor-in-chief Vincent Kahiya who facilitated the discussion were met with mixed feelings among editors who felt the plain endorsement of the document could unnecessarily send wrong signals in a media environment dominated by claims of media capture coupled with intense hatred towards G40 by the current political establishment.
“We are saying as editors this report is good in this and that way. We are not under any obligation to please the government of the day.
“Public funds were used. So it should not be taken as having belonged to so and so.” said another of the editors.
Meanwhile, in their declaration, editors demanded State guarantees they will not fall be victimised when political temperatures increase in the period running up to elections next year.
They also demanded non-interference by politicians, publishers and advertisers whose interests often encroach into editorial affairs.
The editors also demanded easier access to information by electoral and other officials during the electoral season.