Veteran Zimbabwean journalist and former publisher Elias Rusike has died, writes a correspondent.

Rusike died in Harare on July 9 after battling stomach cancer for some time. He was 68.

Rusike was the founder of Modus Publications, the publishers of the Financial Gazette and The Daily Gazette. These two papers were widely regarded as the best in independent Zimbabwe.

He launched The Sunday Gazette before selling the company in 2003 to a consortium of Harare businessmen with close links to the central bank Governor Gideon Gono – who has not denied owning the paper. Gono still publishes the Financial Gazette.

Rusike’s career started at The African Daily News in Salisbury, now Harare, where he worked alongside renowned journalists such as former industry and commerce minister Nathan Shamuyarira who was then editor.

Rusike once worked for Zimbabwe Newspapers Group, publishers of The Herald and five other titles.

Media groups described him as an excellent and trailblazing journalist who was selfless.

"In extending our condolences to his family, MISA-Zimbabwe urges the family to take comfort in the fact that while Mr Rusike might have passed on, his firm belief in media freedom, diversity and pluralism as critical and central to democratisation will continue to spur us in our unshakeable quest for the emergence of a free and unfettered media environment that allows citizens access to information and participation in governance decision making processes as firmly anchored in the 1991 Windhoek Declaration.

“MISA-Zimbabwe has no doubt that latter day Zimbabwean publishers who went on to publish their own newspapers were undoubtedly inspired by his trail-blazing entrepreneurship. More will similarly be so inspired not only in setting up newspaper companies but through ownership of their own privately owned television and radio stations."