The state-owned Zimbabwe Newspapers has removed one of its editors in a
move widely seen as implementing the reforms agreed by three main
political partners in their power-sharing deal, writes a
Journalism.co.za correspondent.


Pikirayi Deteketeke, editor of the state flagship Herald, has been 'promoted' to a post of the group's editor-in-chief with effect from the May.
 
Zimpapers chairman Justin Mutasa announced the move in a statement carried by the  Herald.
 
Mutasa said Deketeke, who has worked for Zimpapers for 22 years, has been assigned a new post of Group Editor in Chief “responsible for implementing and guiding editorial policy of all the Zimpapers newspapers.
 
However, sources at Zimpapers  said Deketeke’s “promotion” was the latest move by Information and Publicity  Minister Webster Shamu to bring the Herald into compliance with a September 15 2008 power sharing agreement between President Robert Mugabe and his former opposition rivals in the two formation of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) – Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara.
 
"On the surface, it appears like a normal promotion but it is actually a demotion because Pikirayi won't be making unilateral decisions. The Minister of Information is busy looking at possible successors and whoever is appointed would be responsible for running the Herald," said a source.
 
Deketeke is accused of promoting hate speech and sidelining the opposition in the Herald.
 
In March, three weeks after the formation of an inclusive government, a committee tasked with promoting dialogue between the media and the political parties, singled out The Herald as the main culprit in promoting hate speech.
 
The September 15 2008 Power-Sharing agreement says: “Steps would be taken to ensure that the public media provides balanced and fair coverage to all political parties for their legitimate political activities…the public and private media shall refrain from using abusive language that may incite hostility, political intolerance and ethnic hatred or that unfairly undermines political parties and other organisations. To this end, the inclusive government shall ensure that appropriate measures are taken to achieve this objective.”
 
As a starter, The Herald was in March forced to strike from its pages a vitriolic column believed to be penned by President Robert Mugabe's spokesman  – George Charamba – who was often criticised for launching scathing attacks on Mugabe's rivals.
 
Meanwhile,  a Harare Magistrate has granted prominent media and human rights lawyer, Alec Muchadehama bail of R860.
 
Archie Wochiunga  remanded Muchadehama him out of custody to May 28. 
Muchadehama is facing charges of  obstructing the course of justice in terms of Section 184(1) of the Criminal Law Codification and (Reform) Act after the state accused him of conniving with a High Court clerk to clear photo-journalist Shadreck Manyere from Chikurubi prison.
The media lawyer is part of the defence team representing freelance photojournalist, Manyere and Movement for Democratic Change activists, Kisimusi Dhlamini and Ghandi Mudzingwa as well as former television anchor Jestina Mukoko.