WITH exactly 12 months to go before next year’s parliamentary elections, Information minister Jonathan Moyo is on a warpath, cracking the whip at state media outlets to churn more Zanu PF propag
The Zimbabwe Independent heard that Moyo last month announced at a meeting with editors from the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) and the Zimpapers newspaper stable that there would be a “major restructuring ahead of next year’s elections”.
Sources at both ZBC and Zimpapers revealed that the restructuring was already in motion and included the abrupt sacking of Herald journalists who were corresponding for the Voice of America last month.
“Moyo made his intentions clear at a meeting held last month, and we all know what is on offer,” said a source. “He (Moyo) said next year’s elections were more crucial than those of 2000 and 2002 and that nobody working in the state media needed to be told about his role in ensuring a ‘people’s victory’.”
It was soon after the meeting between Moyo and state media editors that a massive hunt for Zimpapers and ZBC journalists stringing for foreign organisations intensified, sources said. Herald sports editor, Robson Sharuko, sports reporter, Tendai Ndemera and assistant editor Rex Mphisa were subsequently dismissed.
Moyo is expected to make major editorial changes in the coming weeks at ZBC and Zimpapers to remove journalists whose allegiance to Zanu PF is questionable or those that have shown some degree of independence and objectivity.
Sources said surprise appointments to editorial positions would be made by Moyo soon. Names already being bandied around include those of pro-Zanu PF columnists William Nhara and Caesar Zvayi.
The Independent understands there will also be a reshuffling of senior editorial staff at Zimpapers.
Editors such as Bornwell Chakaodza, Ray Mungoshi, Shepherd Mutamba and Funny Mushava were victims of Moyo’s “restructuring” in 2000 and 2002 after they refused to take orders to campaign for Zanu PF.
The state broadcaster, ZBC, lost experienced staff in a purge code-named Vision 30 when Moyo retrenched 435 workers. Disc jockeys such as Ezra Sibanda, Eric Knight, Peter Johns, Hilton Mambo, Kelvin Sifelani, Brenda Moyo, Musa Pilime, Themba Mkanda and Musavengana Nyasha disappeared from the airwaves over night.
Some of the retrenched broad-casters are yet to get their terminal benefits more than three years after they left the corporation. Nyasha, a spokesperson for the retrenchees, said this week that Moyo’s “restructuring” was aimed at ridding the ZBC of independent voices.
“It wasn’t logical or planned, hence the failure to pay some of the victims,” said Nyasha. “It was all aimed at cleaning the airwaves of independent broadcasters even it meant a lot of talent going to waste.”
Moyo has also juggled around with senior managers at ZBC, with Alum Mpofu and Munyaradzi Hwengwere being sidelined.
Head of the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company Bright Matonga, a Zanu PF activist and stranger to the media, also had a brief stint at ZBC and left without ceremony.