Zimbabwe joined the rest of the world in commemorating World Press Freedom Day today, with Transparency International Zimbabwe (TIZ) bringing journalists from all over Zimbabwe including state the media Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, and private media houses as well as this online station TechnoMag.
World Press Freedom Day was proclaimed in 1993 by the UN General Assembly following a recommendation adopted at the 26th session of UNESCO’s General Conference in 1991.
News Hawks Editor in Chief Dumisani Muleya applauded collaboration efforts by reliable journalists as Editor in Chief of TechnoMag Toneo Rutsito whom he cited worked with him and kept pictures that he shot on their behalf for almost two weeks without even releasing them to the public or going behind their back saying that manner of collaboration is ethical journalism exhibited by the TechnoMag founder.
He went on point stating that the story involved the release of the corruption behind the building of the late former president’s son in law Simba Chikoore and his wife Bona Mugabe Chikoore.
This year’s World Press Freedom Day theme is, “Information as a Public Good”, which serves as a call to affirm the importance of cherishing information as a public good, and exploring what can be done in the production, distribution and reception of content to strengthen journalism, and to advance transparency and empowerment while leaving no one behind.
Interestingly the Bona Chikoore story entailed one final point in the discussion workshop of investigative journalism, training on investigative reporting, saying it will significantly contribute to the development of the area and address all disparities in the media.
Muleya made the remarks in an inspiring off-cuff speech at the journalists training project by the Transparency International Zimbabwe held at Holiday Inn Harare.
Thirty three journalists both male and female from different media organisations took part in the training.
Not to be outdone was Zimbabwe Online Content Creators(ZOCC) Founding President and TechMag TV and TechnoMag Editor in Chief Toneo Rutsito who said the training would help participants to develop their careers by enhancing professional standards and address various challenges in the workplace as well as developing leadership skills to ascend in the newsroom and management structures.
Toneo said ”have a plan…anything can really happen.”Making reference to how Simba Chikoore came out guns blazing loading his guns to try and scare the journalists away.
Toneo went on to say ” i wonder what would have happened if only junior journalists were present and guns were being cocked…?” ”Someone could have been intimidated and even killed but we stood our ground and told him we are here to investigate you.”
Dumisani of NewsHawks also added that the Herald were able to get information easily on how the land was corruptly acquired but only TechnoMag’s Toneo had the real drone pictures with everything and Muleya bemoaned an opportunity of a hit story had they collaborated beyond editorial policy ethics miles apart between them and the state media controlled Herald.
Toneo added “Beyond their personal development and contribution to the investigative journalism, their training will help communities and society in which they work by probing and covering issues of public interest, while also helping to improve performance of media companies where they work,” he said.
The training sought to equip participants with in-depth reporting skills in investigative journalism focusing on areas such as human rights, corruption, marginalised and vulnerable groups, mining corruption in high places eg the diamonds looting, environment natural resources extraction, social service delivery, economic issues, governance, accountability and corruption, among others.
Rutsito and Muleya left no sacred cow and no stone unturned and one of the moderators News Hawks Owen Gagare said
”enhanced understanding of investigative journalism and issues of public interest would enable participants to critically probe and cover complex societal matters and increase their capacity to take up leadership positions in the media.”
“The programme will engage and empower young and senior journalists to help them train, sharpen and develop their investigative skills, tapping into talents and skills that the participants already have,” she said.
“This project responds to these deep structural issues and problems in the media sector linked to similar problems across society, as well as identify gaps in training programmes, gender relations and participation in critical media areas between male and female journalists,” he said.
For Zimbabwe, the day comes at a time the Second Republic led by President Mnangagwa has repealed the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), which was seen by critics as draconian.Inspite of this repeal the same government is accused by the media for enacting Constitution Amendment number 1 and number 2 to reverse the gains of repealing AIPPA.
The Freedom of Information Act, repealed AIPPA, and it gives effect to Section 62 of the Constitution which provides for the right to access to information as enshrined in the Declaration of Rights.
Dumisani Muleya said to this journalist ”Many radio and television licences have been issued in line with the Government’s reform agenda yet it is just a plurality and more of the same.It is one media house one Zanu PF pretending to be another media house and therefore media reform must happen now”.
Owen Gagare reinforced that ”..whilst he worked for the sate media the Chronicle for a longtime and switched over to the other side the issue is about the basics of journalism which must be respected and maintained.”
Gagare urged Zimbabwean journalists to practice investigative journalism with ”courage, being curious, having a passion, taking the initiative, practicing discretion at all times, wwith fairness and ethics, logical thinking organisation, broad general knowledge and research as well as flexibility.”