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DANIEL FORTUNE MOLOKELE: THE VIRTUAL NATION

Daniel Molokele
Open letter to Didymus Mutasa


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Dear Didymus Edwin Noel Mutasa,
(Former Chairperson of the Zanu-PF United Kingdom District and founder member of the Zanu-PF Birmingham Branch between 1972 and 1975)

Belated complements of the new season fellow Zimbabwean!

I trust this letter finds you well. I am doing great. Even though, I know that things could even be better for me had it not been for the situation back at home. But hey, I digress.

I know you were not expecting any letter from me and as such you will find my missive quite as a surprise to you. I leave it to you however, to decide whether the letter is a pleasant or pugnacious surprise. That will be your call to make.

Didymus, I only know you because as a senior politician; you have been in the public light for a very long time. But maybe to be even more honest with you, we have never met in life at all. Neither am I your long lost son or nephew. Nor am I a youthful member of Zanu or the MDC for that matter. I am just a concerned young Zimbabwean who feels so desperate to express his patriotic views and sentiments to you.

This letter has been occasioned by your recent public utterances against some section of our beloved country’s media community. According to a high publicized news story that was originally released by the Manica Post, you are reported to have issued a stern warning to all journalists whom you claimed were putting the nation’s security at risk.. It is further reported that you warned that the government will soon come hard on all those journalists whom you claimed were reporting negatively against Zimbabwe.

In the first place, it was actually surprising to me that you took it upon your self to make a direct policy statement against some members of the media community. As far as I concerned, media practice or professionalism is most certainly not part of your current job description. My honest and informed view is that if you had any serious concerns against the media, the logical procedural thing for you would have been to raise the matter with the relevant authorities. I am sure that Ambassador Tichaona Jokonya (Minister of Information) and Tafataona Mahoso (Media and Information Commission) would have been delighted to entertain your legitimate concerns in this regard.

"The legal labyrinth created by such harsh laws as AIPPA and POSA have further complicated journalists' abilities to freely express themselves"
DANIEL MOLOKELE

But then I do not think issues of procedure and technicality are of much serious consideration and concern to you. And so then let me proceed to address the merit of your substantial claim. In essence, your main head of argument is simply that all Zimbabwean journalists who are writing for anyone else except the government media are national traitors and a source of national insecurity. In other words, you expect every patriotic scribe to push the Zanu-PF line of things under whatever circumstances. That in the final analysis means that media practice in Zimbabwe in your view should be an appendage of the Zanu-PF government’s propaganda department. Period.

Didymus, I wish to point out to you that the media just like all other respectable profession is not a playground for politicians. It is a passion. It is a calling. For others it is lifelong source of livelihood. For some it is their very life! Even though, I doubt that you would understand what I am saying since from an experiential perspective, you have no media background at all. You were never trained in the media profession and have never been a practicing journalist in the first place. But then once again I digress by becoming too personal with you.

In essence the point I am trying to bring across to you, is simple that the media as a profession has its own traditions, values and standards. It has over the years developed its own passionate ideals. These include among others the concept of the ‘freedom of the press’. What this simply means is that journalists pride themselves as an independent profession and guard jealously any attempt to interfere with their practice at all costs.

This point also brings me to the one that insists on ‘freedom of _expression’. The concept is a globally acknowledged human right in terms of Article 19 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 10th December 1948. For the record, Zimbabwe is a full signatory of this protocol.

Further to that, in terms of Section 20 of the much amended national Zimbabwean Constitution, the media in the country is free to practice without the risk of being labeled as a threat to national security. The point is that media practice just like legal or medical practice is a profession that should never be adulterated by the selfish ambition of any politician. I therefore urge you to respect the professional integrity of the Zimbabwean media. And as I have already advised you, if you have any problems with the quality of media practice in Zimbabwe, please feel free to approach the relevant persons and institutions such as the Minister of Information, MIC, MISA, ZUJ, MMPZ, IJAZ, FAMWZ, ZINEF, ZEA, among others.

I also beg to differ with you on the aspect of some journalists being a serious threat to our national security. On the contrary, these journalists are brave professionals and patriots who have continued to ply their trade amid all forms of disruptive harassments and arrests. The legal labyrinth created by such harsh laws as AIPPA and POSA have further complicated their abilities to freely express themselves in the most professional manner as possible. It is thus my humble view that these journalists, far from being treasonous threats, are a national treasure that is unfortunately facing professional extinction.

But then as the Minister of State Security you might benefit from my free advice on what I perceive to be the real threats to national security at the moment. There are a lot of them actually but let me list the following for your immediate consideration;

* Lack of food productivity in the agricultural sector. Most of the invaded farmland is lying idle while the new farmers expect further free food handouts from the government and relief agencies

* Ever high unemployment rates that are said to be at over 80% at the moment.

* Runaway high inflation rates and the continued devaluation of the local currency.

* The ever rising poverty gap and datum line. Most people are much poorer today than they were at independence in 1980.

* Perennial loss making parastatals such as the NRZ, NOCZIM, Air Zimbabwe, ZICSO, among others who have proved themselves to be bottomless pits for our national funds for the last 25 years.

* Harsh laws such as AIPPA and POSA that make it virtual impossible for the people of Zimbabwe to freely express themselves.

Need I say more? No, maybe not. I think I have already given you more than enough for you to handle. I therefore hope and trust that from henceforth you will focus on helping to deal with the above suggested problems. These in my honest view, are certainly much more of a threat to our national security than some journalists trying to express themselves in the profession they were trained to practice at college.

Yours truly,

Daniel Molokele

Daniel Molokele is a Zimbabwean Human Rights Lawyer who is based in Johannesburg. He can be contacted at zimvirtualnation@yahoo.com
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