THE editor of the state-run Herald, Pikirai Deketeke, on Tuesday told a parliamentary portfolio committee that he did not agree with the Media and Information Commission’s chairperson, Tafataona Mahoso’s proposal to regulate distributors of f
Deketeke said this during a hearing of the Portfolio Committee on Transport and Communications held in Herald House’s boardroom.
The hearing came a week after Mahoso made the proposal before the same committee arguing that it was necessary to stop subversive material being dumped in the country on the eve of major elections.
“People are not so stupid. They cannot be influenced by 100 copies distributed for free,” Deketeke said.
“We saw it with the 1980 elections. There were fliers, but the election went the other way,” he added. The Herald editor added that he did not agree with the idea of “overregulating the media as it does not bring any good”. He said this gave the impression of a country that was keen to hide something.
Deketeke also said if Mahoso’s proposal was to be taken on board it would require the input of the people. On the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa), Deketeke said he did not like the way police were applying the media law.
“We do not like the use of Aippa by the police. We have been called to answer frivolous allegations,” he said.
“Some of the allegations fall under criminal defamation. We have been called for long periods when there is no issue,” the editor added.
However, Sunday Mail editor, William Chikoto, sided with Mahoso, saying his paper had been asked to meet certain requirements before being introduced in London.
During the same hearing, Deketeke disclosed that the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) had barred Zimpapers from selling the Chronicle in Botswana after it failed to remit foreign currency.
“There were problems with the Chronicle going to Botswana. The RBZ has ringfenced Zimpapers until the CD1 has been acquitted and the money brought back,” said Deketeke.
At the same meeting, Zimpapers chief executive Justin Mutasa revealed that he would soon crack the whip on editors and management of the Chronicle and the Sunday News whom he accused of poor leadership that has seen the publications incurring losses.
He said although the Zimpapers flagship — the Herald — was making a profit, the other papers were struggling because of what he termed “poor leadership by people leading the Bulawayo branch”.
Committee chairperson Leo Mugabe then asked Mutasa what he was doing in view of complaints that although the Harare branch was performing well and bringing in profits to Zimpapers, its staff was getting the same salaries as colleagues whose papers were incurring losses.
The Zimpapers boss revealed that he had set quarterly targets at the end of which he would take action if they were not achieved.
“We are going to review the first quarter and those who have failed to meet their targets we are going to crack the whip,” said Mutasa.
At one time the committee asked Mutasa and journalists to excuse themselves when it wanted to pose questions on alleged nepotism at Zimpapers by Mutasa.