Sunday, June 25, 2006


In Shona they say: "Wafa wanaka" (loosely translated - It is no use blaming the dead).

Human decency requires that I pay my condolences to the Jokonya family for the passing of the late Zimbabwe Minister of Information and Publicity, Tichaona Joseph Benjamin Jokonya, who was found dead in a hotel tub in Harare on Saturday morning.

However, we must move on and in that regard my concern is for my journalist colleagues back in Zimbabwe. They must be wondering - with much consternation - who is next?

Before Prof Jonathan Moyo, the worst authoritarian propagandist since Hitler's era, the question was more pleasurable because even though they were all from the same tainted Zanu PF cloth, they (Nathan Shamuyarira, Witness Mangwende, Joyce Mujuru, Chen Chimutengwende) had considerable respect for the noble profession.

When Jokonya replaced the 'Mad Professor', early last year, we all were hopeful that his international exposure as Zimbabwe's representative at the African Union and the United Nations would compel him to respect human rights in general and freedom of the press in particular.

You, valued readers of this blog, will recall that a couple of weeks ago Jokonya, on what was to be his last press conference, threatened death to Zimbabwean journalists working for western media.

“You know what the end of a traitor is?” he asked the assembled journalists then.

“The end of a traitor is always death. The unfortunate thing about a traitor is that you are killed by both your own people and the person whom you are serving," he warned.

Well, thank God none of the journalists are dead yet and one hopes Jokonya's replacement will not act on that 'writ' - but we should never count on it. Ever since the Information minister's office moved from Liquenda House to Munhumutapa, closer to President Robert Mugabe and his CIO, the treatment of jourmnalists has been deplorable to say the least.

Anyway, is it gonna be Mugabe's spokesman, George Charamba or Jokonya's insufferable deputy, Brighton Matonga or somebody completely out of the current circle of journalist-haters?

Is the new minister going to take us to the pre-Mad Professor era or will he/she perpetuate the torment of the press?


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