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Closing down Daily won’t solve our problems

SO the Daily News has been shut down! And – according to Jonathan Moyo and his newspapers at Silundika Avenue – may never be licensed.

ca, sans-serif”>Good political gambit by Zanu PF in its fight against the independent media and the opposition.

On the surface it seems to be the best piece of news for them this year. But is it good news for anyone else that the Daily News has been closed? Obviously not.

It is not deniable that the paper helped shape the political map of Zimbabwe against the ruling party. Introduced just on time as Zimbabweans found their voice through the MDC, the paper went on to become the voice of the voiceless in their quest for a truly democratic Zimbabwe.

Now, almost everybody who is in the pluralism camp is asking what exactly is going to happen to the country, assuming that the paper will not be hitting the streets again – at least not in the short run? Here are the scenarios that I believe will rule supreme from now until the paper comes back or the ruling party burns itself out of existence like Daniel arap Moi’s Kanu and Kenneth Kaunda’s Unip did in Kenya and Zambia respectively:

Most likely, journalists like Bill Saidi, Fanuel Jongwe and others will look for work at other independent papers or overseas papers – and find it, because they are good journalists. Some fence-sitters and those with no clear ideology will most likely go grovelling to Moyo looking for work and be asked to apologise for attacking him or associating with his enemies. They will likely find work if they promise to pummel their former colleagues in the independent media.

Of course this will be a classic case of “if God pays me I will fight the devil but if the devil pays me I will fight God”.

Those who fail to find work somewhere because of inconsistency of quality of their work will have to wait for the return of the paper – which cannot be ruled out.

Meanwhile the ruling party will now lower the fence thinking that the coast is clear and they can do what they want with the country because there is nobody to report on their sins. They will also decide to increase attacks on opposition supporters while the paper is still in a swoon.

Alternatively, the ruling party could decide that the MDC is as good as dead because, as they said in the past, the MDC’s public relations chief is in hospital.

The MDC will most likely be grieving for some time to come – until the paper returns or another truly independent paper is launched, say from Trevor Ncube’s Zimbabwe Independent stable, which is the only paper that is not in the clutches of the ruling party.

The MDC will be without a daily platform from which they can communicate with their members. The only silver lining in that cloud is that the MDC will now move from their laurels and start campaigning seriously, finally getting in touch with their supporters who don’t know where their MPs are now.

Meanwhile, at the Herald and Sunday Mail it’s party time as the papers try to reclaim their lost market share. In real terms that is easier said than done.

The country is currently heavily politically polarised and there are people like myself who will not buy the Herald until the Daily News returns. Some advertisers may also decide to keep their adverts on their desks in protest.

The bottom line is: the situation at Zimpapers hardly improves.

Those who are afraid of Moyo can discard their decency and resort to the political pornography that we are now used to from Zimpapers. While the Daily News is in Moyo’s electric chair, self-respecting independent media should rise from their knees and shine more than ever before.

They at least can save the country from the tragedy that started with the appointment of Moyo to the cabinet. While the government can assume that their political fortunes will now turn around because of the closure of the Daily News, it is clear that this will not stop shortages of basic commodities. It will not stop the economic tailspin that we are in.

The Daily News was not there when the government decided to bribe war veterans with unbudgeted gratuities in 1997. It was also not there when the government decided to join the DRC war in 1998, thereby starting that economic haemorrhage that we still find ourselves in, six years after.

Josiphat Gwezhira,

Mt Pleasant.

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