Tendai Mugabe, Harare Bureau
ZANU-PF political commissar Cde Saviour Kasukuwere has come under fire from media organisations for charging at and threatening Herald journalists with unspecified action for what he termed negative coverage.
Cde Kasukuwere, who has been facing allegations of corrupt land dealings, was apparently ticked off after The Herald exposed him for trying to sabotage the Zanu-PF Women’s League’s nationwide demonstrations against Cdes Nomthandazo Eunice Moyo and Sarah Mahoka who stand accused of undermining the First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe and denigrating Vice Presidents Emmerson Mnangagwa and Presidential spokesman Mr George Charamba.
In an expletive-filled tirade during an unsolicited interview with journalists on the sidelines of a Command Agriculture Field Day at Chaminuka Training Centre in Mt Darwin last week, Cde Kasukuwere said he was ready to take The Herald reporters, the editor Caesar Zvayi and Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Dr Chris Mushohwe head on.
From the video that has gone viral on social media, Cde Kasukuwere could be seen frothing with anger while flanked by his half-brother Cde Dickson Mafios who was sheepishly nodding in apparent agreement with everything that Cde Kasukuwere was saying.
Media organisations on Monday roundly condemned Cde Kasukuwere saying his behaviour was bereft of the honour and dignity expected from a senior Government and ruling party official.
In a statement, the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists said: “Zuj is deeply concerned by abuses reportedly made by Zanu-PF political commissar and Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, Saviour Kasukuwere, targeting journalists working for The Herald.”
According to media reports, Cde Kasukuwere verbally abused The Herald’s journalists after complaining over the coverage that he received going to the extent of calling senior reporter, Fellex Share, “a son of a b****h”.
“Zuj calls on Kasukuwere to lead by example given his senior position in the ruling party and Government as we approach the 2018 elections where his conduct could be interpreted as endorsing violence against journalists.
“Our concerns as Zuj are premised on the implications that the abuses could have on the safety, security and well being of journalists and media workers before, during and after the 2018 elections. The union holds a very dim view of individuals or institutions that threaten or harm journalists and media workers.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the union strongly condemns any individuals, including Kasukuwere or institutions who threaten journalists for doing their work. As journalists, we should continue to be guided by the fact that our first line of defence is to conduct ourselves in an ethical and professional manner.
Zuj urged politicians to desist from dragging journalists into their catfights and for journalists to refuse to be drawn into turf wars.
“As a way of defending the interests of journalists and supporting peaceful conflict resolution, the union stands ready to facilitate dialogue between any contending parties.”
The Zimbabwe chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) weighed in saying: “While the media is not immune to criticism, Misa Zimbabwe would like to categorically put it on record that the language, which Minister Kasukuwere used is unbefitting of a public official.
“Furthermore, his abusive statements, particularly against the journalists working for The Herald, exceeds the acceptable measure of fair criticism and can be interpreted as bordering on threats against the lawful duties of the media.”
Misa Zimbabwe urged Cde Kasukuwere or any member of the public who felt aggrieved by media reports to seek recourse through laid down procedure