Chitown officials not immune to public, media scrutiny
As we mark the 30th anniversary of Press Freedom Day, recent events in Chitungwiza where two council officials have unfairly attacked our journalism, particularly with regard to the ongoing controversy surrounding the sale of the mayoral stand have triggered this write-up.
One of them holds a high managerial position while the other is a councillor.
Curiously, some of the attacks on us were veiled threats made before had even decided to publish the stories or not.
Of concern, is that these occurred while we were still investigating serious allegations that were levelled against the said officials by members of the public.
They are entitled to a right of reply and we pray that in their enjoyment of that right, they desist from threatening journalists who are only doing their work.
In the past, our journalists including the editor were arrested together with councillors and later released without charge while covering a council meeting at the Chitungwiza municipality head office.
Word circulated that the arrests were orchestrated by a power-hungry councillor, but at that time we just brushed them off as mere rumours.
Residents in Chitungwiza have been giving us information for all sorts of reasons, some justified, others not.
Our publication, Zim Community News, is there to empower our communities through communication.
We serve the needs of our community through solution-based journalism.
In our desire to influence for good, we are watchdogs for the community.
We need to stress that we are more than ready to champion the cause of the underdog and expose corruption and abuses of office.
This is a critical role in any democratic process.
In pursuit of the above, it should be highlighted that there is a difference between the desire to influence events for one’s sake, and the desire to do it for the community.
As the Fourth Estate, we will never use journalism for selfish ends, but to improve the life of the community at large.
We act as a balance and an advocate for ordinary citizens against possible abuses from the power and authority of the other three estates.
Our journalists have developed the ability to recognise when they are being given false information.
When we suspect that we are being given inaccurate information or being told deliberate lies, we do not let the matter rest there.
We probe more to reveal the information for the lie that it is.
We are patient and if need be will hang on to a story until we are satisfied that we have done justice to it.
We will not let go until we have got all the meat off the bone, even if some try to pull it out of our mouth.
This means we also risk upsetting people who do not want to cooperate, but we will remain polite but persistent.
This might necessitate approaching such stories with caution and cunning.