THE Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) has challenged government, the Mirror group and deposed founding editor Dr Ibbo Mandaza to come clean on the involvement of the Central Intelligence Organisation in the media house. <
In a statement, Misa-Zimbabwe chairman Thomas Deve said they had been following with great concern and anxiety the unfolding saga at the Daily Mirror and Sunday Mirror on the alleged covert operations by the CIO to control the “privately-run” Mirror Newspapers Group.
“The government, group chairman Jonathan Kadzura and Dr Mandaza owe the nation, the Mirror group’s workers and journalists, and the entire media community an explanation as millions of taxpayers’ money could have been channelled into the Mirror group through the alleged involvement of the CIO,” Deve said.
“It is also our strong view that it is Dr Mandaza’s professional and ethical obligation and responsibility to come out in the open and set the record straight, more so in the wake of his suspension from the publishing company.”
He said that in the spirit of fairness, transparency and accountability, it was indeed a great betrayal of the Mirror group’s workers, taxpayers and the nation at large to continue to be kept in the dark as this only fuels speculation and suspicions that someone has something to hide.
“Our concern has been heightened by the lack of verifiable information pertaining to events at the beleaguered newspaper group which has seen the suspension of the editor-in-chief Dr Ibbo Mandaza, and his deputy Alexander Kanengoni, after the Zimbabwe Independent broke the story of the alleged CIO involvement,” Deve said.
“Given the sensitive nature of the allegations and inherent ramifications for media freedom and editorial independence, one would have expected a swift response from Dr Mandaza, the Media and Information Commission and the responsible ministry, to allay any fears and suspicions.”
He said as the founding group CEO and editor-in-chief, Mandaza’s seeming dithering and prevarication on the true nature of events at the newspaper group had only served to add to the mystery.
“Suffice it to say the alleged involvement of the CIO vitiates the 1991 Windhoek Declaration ratified by Zimbabwe on the need to promote free, independent and pluralistic media,” he said.
“Misa-Zimbabwe reiterates that the government and the security arms of the state have no business taking over privately-owned newspapers as they play a vital role in fostering diverse views in the service of democracy and development,” Deve said. – Staff Writer.