Gift Phiri/Loughty Dube
EIGHT journalists at the Bulawayo-based Chronicle newspaper have been sent on indefinite forced leave as the purge on those involved in the “Tsholotsho Decl
aration” widens, the Zimbabwe Independent heard this week.
The move comes after President Robert Mugabe’s spokesman George Charamba summoned Chronicle editor Stephen Ndlovu to explain why the broadsheet used editorial space in an apparent bid to exonerate Information minister Jonathan Moyo from any blame in the Tsholotsho meeting.
The meeting, described by Mugabe as “clandestine”, allegedly sought to defy the party’s decision to choose a woman vice-president.
The Independent understands that Ndlovu, together with Zimpapers chairman Justin Mutasa, got a strong dressing down from Charamba in the fallout after the Tsholotsho Declaration. The controversial meeting also saw the suspension of six Zanu PF provincial chairmen who attended the meeting to draw-up plans to prevent Joyce Mujuru’s nomination as Vice President in favour of Speaker of Parliament Emmerson Mnangagwa. Moyo has since been severely punished by the ruling party presidium for organising what has been described as a foiled palace coup.
The decision to send the journalists on forced leave comes despite recent attempts by management to embargo everyone from going on leave before next year’s legislative polls due in March. The journalists sent on forced leave include the paper’s deputy editor, Paul Mambo, assistant editor Tumeliso Makurane, and Sports Editor Lovemore Dube. The others are Bheki Ncube the editor of the vernacular Umthunywa newspaper and Edwin Dube, the Trends magazine editor, together with his assistant editor Limukani Ncube.
Chief photographer Gift Chaita and Business Chronicle editor Alfonce Mbizwo complete the list of the journalists currently taking an involuntary rest.
Ndlovu on Tuesday declined to comment on the move.
“Just go to hell, go to hell,” he yelled before switching off his cellphone.
Although the official line was that the journalists had accumulated a lot of leave days, sources at the paper questioned why the same process was not applied at the Sunday News, the Chronicle’s Bulawayo based sister paper, or at other papers in the Zimpapers stable.
“If all these senior journalists had accrued so many leave days then the same process should apply to the Sunday News since both papers are in the same stable,” said a senior journalist at the paper who spoke to us on condition of anonymity.
“We do not understand why all these editors should all go on leave at the same time.” The Independent was told that the journalists are being targeted for not toeing the paper’s line and for not supporting Moyo during the aborted Tsholotsho plot that has seen the minister fall from grace, while or others it appears to be personal differences with Ndlovu.