Zimbabwean journalists, for long strident in their criticism of
President Robert Mugabe for clinging to power, have shifted their
attention to their own association ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Â the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists
(ZUJ), writes Edgar Gweshe in the Standard.
At the centre of their focus is how long-serving ZUJ President Mathew Takaona is controversially trying to secure another term of office, ignoring an outcry from journalists who accuse him of overstaying his welcome.
The journalists say, as a professional body, the ZUJ leadership should be rotated among the professionals and ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œnot privatised like some NGO that is a one-man bandÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â.
The journalists have started likening Takaona to Mugabe, who has ruled the country for 29 years, but wants to stay in office despite rejection by the electorate.
They said Takaona hasnÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t really achieved MugabeÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s feat, but has been at the organisation for more than 10 years, which ran against the concept of leadership renewal.
Takaona maintains that he was ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œlegally and constitutionally in officeÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â and therefore could not be accused of having ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œoverstayedÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œWhat does overstaying mean? According to the ZUJ constitution, the terms for the ZUJ presidency are three years and if they are saying I am going for the sixth term, it means I have served for 15 years and yet I am just about to complete my third term,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â he said.
Takaona said there were some ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œrogue elementsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â in the journalism fraternity who fail to embrace professional standards and suggested a hidden plot behind the allegations.
Determined to oust Takaona, some journalists have launched a cyber campaign, ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œSave ZUJ: Takaona Should GOÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â, which is found on facebook. Those disgruntled by his continued reign sign-in and put their comments. So far 14 journalists have signed up.
The journalists accused the current ZUJ leadership of lacking direction. They claim that whenever there is a congress the ZUJ leadership selects ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œfriendsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â to attend.
Freelance journalist Godwin Mangudya and The Herald news editor Isidore Guvamombe have expressed interest in challenging Takaona at the forthcoming congress, whose date remains unknown to the fraternity.
Mangudya said inasmuch as TakaonaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s efforts at ZUJ were appreciated, the need for a new leadership at the professional body was pressing.
Click here to read the full report, posted on the Standard's website.