Innocent Ruwende Harare Bureau
THE government does not want to see journalists being unnecessarily arrested, but media practitioners should erase the notion that the Bill of Rights was made for them alone, Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Christopher Mushohwe has said.
Speaking during a familiarisation tour of the privately owned media Daily News, NewsDay and The Financial Gazette yesterday, Mushohwe said journalists should write stories from credible sources and avoid infringing on other people’s rights.
“If you tell a lie about someone, you destroy their reputation and you’re likely to face some charges,” he said. “Let your stories be factual. The government will not defend wrong things.
“Government business isn’t to try cases. There’s an independent arm of the State that is the judiciary. It has real independence. It can look at cases on their merits.”
Mushohwe said freedom of expression was meant for all citizens and everyone should enjoy it with equal measure.
He said the national fabric should not be destroyed because of differences and urged the media to report truthfully on the security sector.
“Journalism is about facts,” said Mushohwe. “It’s about being objective and ensure that we’ve interrogated our sources. We must work as a team, as a family, even if we have small quarrels they aren’t meant to destroy the family, but build it.
“On areas of concern we should learn from each other. I’ll not be a Minister of Information if that industry isn’t there, so I support your growth and prosperity.”
Mushohwe said the media should not scare away investors through alarmist reports based on falsehoods.
AMH managing director Vincent Kahiya whose company publishes NewsDay, The Independent and The Standard, asked Mushohwe on government’s position regarding media law.
He said his question was prompted by the arrest of NewsDay deputy editor Nqaba Matshazi and reporter Xolisani Ncube last week on allegations of publishing false statements over a story regarding the payment of civil servants’ bonuses.
Mushohwe said, “Not that I’m not concerned about the people in my sector, but it (the case) is sub judice”.
Financial Gazette chief executive Jacob Chisese said there were areas the media was unnecessarily competing.
“Minister, when talking about the distribution of newspapers, each media house has a distribution vehicle,” he said. “We could have, for example, a truck going to Bulawayo with all the papers, that way we can reduce the cost of newspapers.
“We need to sit down as newspapers so that we can come up with a working framework with your help, Minister. In the area of newsprint, we can also come together and procure newsprint, that way we can benefit from economies of scale.”
Mushohwe concurred with Chisese and urged the media to collaborate on areas of mutual benefit.
Mushohwe, who was accompanied by his deputy Thokozile Mathuthu and directors from his ministry, has already toured Zimpapers stables and the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation to familiarise himself with the operations of the media following his appointment last year.