Leading business weekly, Zimbabwe Independent’s assistant editor Stewart Chabwinja died early yesterday morning after a short illness.
He was 45. Chabwinja joined Alpha Media Holidngs in 2002 as a sub-editor for the Standard before being appointed chief sub-editor for the Independent. AMH publishes NewsDay, the Independent and Standard.
News of his death has been received with great shock across the media fraternity, with many describing Chabwinja as a humble and calm editor with a great sense of humour. Zimbabwe Editors Forum (Zinef) chairperson Njabulo Ncube said it was with deep sadness that it learnt of the passing on of Chabwinja.
“Stewart was a dedicated professional whose insightful and incisive editorials made the Independent a must read every Friday. As Zinef we are devastated as he had indicated his wish to attend a peace building and conflict resolution training workshop which ended in Harare on Wednesday,” Ncube said. “Although he appeared to work behind the scenes, Stewart is ranked as one of the finest all-round editors, whose editorials spoke truth to power. Stewart you might have breathed your last midday yesterday, but be rest-assured your works will remain celebrated. Rest in eternal peace soldier of freedom of the media and expression,” he said.
Zimbabwe Union of Journalists secretary-general Foster Dongozi said: “Stewart is one of those journalists who was not afraid to speak out his mind, contributing immensely to independent journalism.
“Journalism has been left poorer following his death. This has been a dark week for journalism as the industry has also been robbed of one of the country’s veteran journalists Chris Somo.”
Misa Zimbabwe director Nhlanhla Ngwenya said: “In the outpouring messages of condolences, the indisputable common thread is that Stewart conducted himself with humility and civility regardless of his position at AMH. But this did not in any way compromise his professional execution of duty and incisive analysis of issues as demonstrated in his weekly Candid Comment column.
“It is sad that the media continues to lose such talent at a time the country needs robust and critical perspectives, counter the hegemonic narrative whose sole aim is to either cover up or obfuscate reality on the ground and normalise the abnormal.”
Independent editor Dumisani Muleya said he was shaken by Chabwinja’s untimely death, yet comforted by his legacy of hard work, professionalism and independent-minded, fair and ethical as well as insightful journalism.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of our Assistant Editor, Chabwinja. He will be remembered for a long time and truly missed. May our Lord console his family, relatives and friends during this time of grief and bereavement,” Muleya said. “With heavy hearts, we pray for the eternal repose of our dear colleague who was a man of distinguished humanity, humility and professionalism.
“As the media fraternity, AMH, and the Independent in particular, we have lost a great professional; a man of good work ethic — whose principle was that hard work is intrinsically virtuous and pays — and benign human quality. Stewart was a cool guy; a gentleman and hard-worker dedicated to his job, media freedom and the collective well-being of his colleagues within the journalistic community. My his soul rest in peace.”