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VMCZ activities update and complaints report - June 2013
Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe
June 26, 2013

In-house Training

The Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe (VMCZ) in the months of May and June conducted Election Reporting workshops in newsrooms across the country.

Five in-house training workshops for five media houses across the country were conducted on Ethical Reporting of Elections. The in-house workshops were conducted in the Zimbabwe Independent and Newsday newsrooms, at The Herald and Sunday Mail, The Chronicle and Sunday News, Masvingo and in Kwekwe.

The in-house trainings are aimed at capacitating the local journalists in preparation of harmonised elections that have been pencilled for 31, July 2013.

The journalists were trained on reporting the elections stages, safety and security, ethics and the politics of elections. A total of 90 journalists (full time and freelance) from both the private and public media took part in the training.

Press Clubs

Press Club meetings were held in Masvingo and in Bulawayo. In Bulawayo human rights lawyers David Coltart and Kucaca Phulu addressed journalists on the implications of the Constitutional Court judgment compelling President Mugabe to call for elections by 31 July 2013.

The two lawyers were unanimous that the court had no jurisdiction to set election dates and that President Mugabe was still expected to consult the two MDC formations before coming up with an election date. Coltart further stated that SADC had no jurisdiction to change the election dates and further stated that it was up to Zimbabweans to solve their differences.

In Masvingo Mavambo Kusile leader, Simba Makoni, MDC-T MP, Tongai Matutu and Zanu-PF aspiring MP, Francis Muzenda also addressed the Masvingo Press Club on the Constitutional Court judgement.

VMCZ Complaints Report - January 2013
Parties Nature of Complaint Status
Mr Isaac Shumba vs. Midlands Monitor
  • Mr Isaac Shumba filed a complaint with the Media Complaints Committee (MCC) over an article published by the Midlands Monitor of 22-26 March, 2013 titled “Goblin haunts Mkoba 19 family.”
  • Mr Shumba in his complaint says the story published by the paper is unsubstantiated and meant to tarnish the image of the house in question which he owns.
  • Mr Shumba in his complaint says he has lost income from renting out the house as potential clients are shunning the house citing the newspaper article in alleging that it is haunted.
  • Mr Shumba said the tenant at the house caused the publication of the story after failing to pay rentals and receiving an eviction notice and was therefore trying to fix him by alleging that the house was haunted.
  • Mr Shumba wants the Midlands Monitor to retract the story and put it on record that the house is not haunted.
  • The matter was brought before the Media Complaints Committee (MCC). Midlands Monitor was represented at the hearing by its Editor, Ms Tendai Manhundu. Mr Shumba outlined his complaint to the committee.
  • The Midlands Monitor in defence told the committee that the story was published after the tenant at the house had given them her side of the story. The paper said they believed the source to be authentic.
  • The committee after reviewing the case and listening to both parties resolved that it was important for Midlands Monitor to give Mr Shumba space in the newspaper to explain to the public that he was the owner of the house and that the house was not haunted.
  • The Midlands Monitor in its next edition published a story where Mr Shumba gave his side of the story in the matter.
Dr Kereke vs Daily News

(3 January 2013, 7 January 2013, 23 January 2013)

  • Dr Kereke filed a complaint with the VMCZ over three articles published by the Daily News on 3 January 2013, 7 January 2013 and 23 January 2013.
  • Dr Kereke complains that the articles published are highly malicious of him and contain highly defamatory falsehoods.
  • Dr Kereke complains that the stories are wholly false as they imply that he is involved in vote buying yet he is not involved in any such activity.
  • Dr Kereke further states that the three stories portray him in bad light and affect his social standing in society.
  • Dr Kereke further states that he is aggrieved as the stories allege that he is corrupt and that he should be investigated for his donations implying that he might have stolen the money.
  • Dr Kereke is also aggrieved that he was not given a right of response to the allegations raised in the three stories.

Status: Resolved

  • Both Dr. Kereke and the Daily News, represented by Executive Deputy Editor, Chris Goko appeared before the committee. Dr. Kereke presented his case before the committee.
  • The Committee ruled that the Daily News should retract certain assertions and factual errors contained in the three stories.
  • The Daily News retracted the information identified. The Committee applauded the Daily News for its professionalism.
Mr Christopher Matumbike vs The Chronicle
  • Mr Matumbike filed a complaint with the Media Complaints Committee (MCC) over a story published by the Chronicle on the 8th of May 2013 entitled ‘Police bar illegal voter education meetings’
  • Mr Matumbike says the article on the Local Governance Community Capacity Building and Development Trust (LGCCBD) is not true and contains inaccurate information and wants the Chronicle to correct the information.
Status: Resolved
  • The VMCZ facilitated contact between the complainant and the newspaper editor and both parties reached an agreement which led to the publication of a story correcting the initial published story. The complainant felt there was need to further engage and interact with the newspaper in future.
National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) vs Daily News
  • The NCA filed a complaint concerning a story that appeared in the 16 June 2013 edition of the Daily News on Sunday entitled ‘Bloated SADC Summit Entourage’
  • The NCA says the story erroneously states that its Chairperson Lovemore Madhuku was listed as a legal expert for the Zanu-PF delegation to the recently held SADC Extraordinary Summit in Maputo, Mozambique
  • The NCA further alleges that the editorial of the same edition of the Daily News on Sunday unfairly discredits the Chairperson of the NCA on the basis of what it considers false information about the listing of his name at the SADC Extraordinary Summit.
Status: Pending
  • The Media Complaints Committee has written to the Daily News on the matter and is awaiting a response.

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