State media and the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) have challenged MDC-T leader Mr. Morgan Tsvangirai to refrain from abusing public forums to issue careless statements undermining media freedom saying his sentiments attacking state media journalists as shallow are an insult to the whole media fraternity.
The Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, Zimpapers and the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists have strongly urged Mr. Tsvangirai to refrain from attacking journalists working in the public media as they have national interest at heart.
Zimpapers Chief Executive, Mr. Justin Mutasa reminded Mr. Tsvangirai that state media is guided by the national interest and the values of what Zimbabweans fought for and insulting the journalists is tantamount to shooting oneself in the foot.
â€œWe respect the position of Prime Minister as the state media, but when Mr. Tsvangirai label us as shallow then it becomes a different story all together. Mr. Tsvangirai should be reminded that as patriotic Zimbabweans we will remain resolute in defending the countryâ€™s sovereignty, he must stop insulting us,â€™â€™ said Mr Mutasa.
The Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, in a statement issued by the companyâ€™s public relations manager, Sivukile Simango, said it was regrettable that the Prime Minister regards the state media so lowly, but is comforted by the fact that his utterances do not represent the position of the executive but his own personal opinion or that of his party.
ZBC said it will not be swayed from its mandate of safeguarding the sovereignty of Zimbabwe, adding that the national broadcaster will continue its critical analysis of events, political parties and government even if this does not make people like the PM happy.
ZUJ Secretary-General, Foster Dongozi rebuked Mr. Tsvangirai for issuing irresponsible statements to the media saying journalists will not be intimidated in their fight for freedom of expression.
â€œColleagues in the public media are workers and comrades in the fight for freedom of expression, we donâ€™t expect this from PM Tsvangirai who for a long time claimed to be fighting for the rights of workers…..an injury to one is an injury to all,â€ Dongozi said.
Mr. Tsvangirai misfired during a discussion titled â€œBeyond Party Politics â€“ Towards a national vision for Zimbabweâ€ at Sapes in Harare when he abused the forum to attack the public media as shallow.
â€œI know what ZBC says, know what the Herald writes about me, they are shallow,â€ said Mr. Tsvangirai.
It is against this background that utterances by Mr. Tsvangirai describing state media journalist as shallow have received wide condemnation from not only the state media, but from media representative bodies, political analysts and progressive Zimbabweans who questioned the logic behind the Prime Ministerâ€™s sentiments to attack the public media for defending the gains of the liberation struggle and the countryâ€™sâ€™ sovereignty.