ZUJ cut ties with Kereke over arrest of Standard journalists

The Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) has cut ties with Munyaradzi Kereke, over the role he played this week in the arrest of two Zimbabwe Standard journalists.

Nevanji Madanhire, the editor of the weekly newspaper, and reporter Nqaba Matshazi, were arrested in Harare on Tuesday and charged with theft, unlawful entry and criminal defamation. The scribes were however bailed on Wednesday and ordered to surrender their passports.

They were arrested over a story Matshazi wrote on 6th November that claimed a new health insurance firm, Green Card Medical Society owned by Kereke, was on the brink of collapse. Until Thursday Kereke’s Green Card Medical Society was a major sponsor of ZUJ. In the last two years the company also sponsored the National Journalistic and Media Awards (NJAMA).

While acknowledging Kereke’s immense role in financially backing the journalistic awards, ZUJ found his actions deplorable in the arrest of Madanhire and Matshazi and they were left with no choice but to terminate their relationship.

ZUJ President Dumisani Sibanda said for all the good Kereke has done to enhance the journalism profession, they cannot be blinded from condemning his action that threatens press freedom, and the right to free expression.

’As ZUJ we subscribe totally to the higher values of a free media and we will not hesitate to defend the media’s unfettered freedom to expose the ills of society.

We therefore declare that in future we will not deal with Kereke in programs that seek to enhance journalistic standards because his actions put him in direct confrontation with the cherished ideals of a free media,’ Sibanda said in statement.

He said if Kereke felt aggrieved he should have channeled his grievances to the Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe (VMCZ) for redress, rather than resort to draconian action.

‘The arrest has resulted in the journalists being treated as common criminals. Cells were not built for journalists pursuing their professional duty of reporting without fear or favour, but for murderers and other undesirable elements of society.

‘We continue to fight against undemocratic archaic and repressive legal instruments like the criminal defamation legislation. We will not stand aloof as our members are persecuted for fear of losing sponsorship. It should be made clear that sponsorship that seeks to hold the media at ransom will be rejected and exposed for what it is,’ Sibanda added. SW Radio Africa

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