EDITORS in the state media have launched a bid to set up their own Zimbabwe National Editors Forum as a rival to a body that already exists and represents editors from the independent press.
Stephen Ndlovu, editor of the Chronicle, apparently backed by Herald editor Pikirayi Deketeke and Midlands-based editor Willie Mponda, have announced the formation of the rival forum which they say has the support of editors elsewhere in the region.
At a meeting of the Southern African Editors Forum (SAEF) in Johannesburg last month, it was agreed that Zimbabwean state editors would establish a body to represent them which would in turn approach Zinef for unity talks. But Ndlovu has attempted to preempt that by announcing that his forum will be the authentic voice of Zimbabwean editors.
Ndlovu yesterday confirmed he was leading the initiative to form another forum.
“The existing one comprises editors from only three newspapers, one of which is now defunct,” he said in apparent reference to the Daily News.
“The one we are forming, called the Zimbabwe National Editors Forum will incorporate all editors both from the state-owned and the privately-owned media. Your editors’ forum is now defunct because it doesn’t represent all editors.”
Ndlovu denied that Information minister Jonathan Moyo was behind the efforts.
“It’s rubbish. Is Jonathan an editor? This one is an association of editors and he can’t be invited.”
Ndlovu says the rival body is committed to “media freedom and independence” and will act in consistency with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the relevant provisions of the OAU/AU Charter for Human and People’s Rights. It will adhere to “the highest professional standards and ethics”, he claims.
Chairman of the existing Zinef, Iden Wetherell, said the move would be strongly contested because Zinef already existed as a trust.
“Can you imagine the Chronicle, the Herald and ZBC adhering to ‘the highest professional standards’ and observing the OAU/AU charters on human rights?” he said. “These organs are run on a day-to-day basis by the Department of Information in the Office of the President. They can’t even think up their own name!”
Speaking to SW Radio Africa, South African National Editors Forum chairman, Henry Jeffreys, said that the initiative by Ndlovu and his colleagues was not agreed upon.
He said while the two sides in Zimbabwe have been urged to foster dialogue by the SAEF, the editors from the state-owned media had not been advised to take over an existing body.