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Media bodies to investigate unethical practices

The publication last week by this newspaper of a story exposing deep-seated corruption among some journalists has sparked outrage from local media organisations which have promised to investigate and bring culprits to book.

The Standard newspaper and the publisher’s Editorial Advisory Board also came on board supporting the initiative by the media organisations and pledging cooperation in the investigations.

At the centre of the storm is an investigative story published by The Standard last week which exposes alleged nefarious practices by a tobacco company, Voedsel Tobacco International which is accused of cheating farmers through overpricing of inputs among other malpractices.

A side story was published exposing some freelance scribes who attempted to bribe the journalist working on the story, asking her to drop it for money.

The Zimbabwe National Editors’ Forum (ZINEF) issued a terse statement in which the coordinator Njabulo Ncube said the editors’ grouping would launch an inquiry into the allegations.

“Zinef will be appointing a committee of former and current editors and other senior journalists to assist in investigating the issues that are arising from the latest newspaper reports,” Ncube said.

“Zinef members and all stakeholders will be notified of the progress of the inquiry into this issue which has cast a dark cloud on the practice of journalism in Zimbabwe. Zinef does not condone corruption in the media and pledges that all those editors and journalists in the alleged scandal/scandals will be investigated.”

In a statement, the Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe (VMCZ) called upon editors and media owners to come up with resolutions on how to deal with the corruption which they said had the potential to tarnish the industry.

The organisation, which is pushing for media self-regulation, said such unfortunate incidents provided ammunition to proponents of media regulation.

“The VMCZ emphasizes the place of professionalism and ethics in the media and urges editors and publishers of the media institutions involved to investigate these serious allegations and take action against those journalists involved,” the VMCZ said.

“The corruption allegations, if true, undermine the integrity of journalism. The VMCZ calls upon editors and media owners to decisively deal with the allegations raised in the article and come up with clear resolutions.”

Alpha Media Holdings (AMH) Editorial Advisory Board of Trustees chairperson Muchadeyi Ashton Masunda said it was incumbent upon The Standard to participate in the investigations by media groups and other state agencies, including the police and the National Prosecution Authority.

“Needless to say, the alleged culprits must be given every possible opportunity to be heard and, in the event that they are found guilty of the acts of corruption complained of in the article in question, then they must be brought to book and face the music, without any fear or favour,” Masunda said.

The Standard acting editor Tangai Chipangura said the newspaper was willing and prepared to cooperate with investigations.

“As a publication that prides itself in being ethical, we welcome the pledge by the media bodies to institute impartial investigations into the allegations against the journalists.

The Standard will support any investigation that seeks to get to the bottom of these allegations because we share the concerns raised by both VMCZ and Zimbabwe National Editors Forum.

“We remain resolute in playing our role in helping Zimbabwe fight the scourge of corruption that costs the country billions of dollars every year.”

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