Bhekinkosi Ncube, the editor of Zimpapers' Bulawayo-based publication Umthunywa, who was suspended for allegedly insulting President Robert Mugabe, has been acquitted of all the charges by the government-owned company's disciplinary body, according to a report in The Standard.


Ncube was first suspended in September after his paper published a front-page picture of MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai with a caption that read "Uyalile ukusayina" (He refused to sign).

Tsvangirai had reportedly refused to sign a power-sharing agreement with Mugabe. The MDC chief subsequently endorsed it on September 15.

Ncube faced three charges that included criticising Mugabe in personal e-mails he exchanged with friends.

Zimpapers also wanted to fire him for publishing a picture of a sick Bulawayo man who was being pushed to a clinic in a wheelbarrow.

Accompanying the picture was a caption that read: "Ufuna senzeni uGono?" (What does Gono want us to do?). The story was about the difficulties ordinary Zimbabweans encountered due to their failure to access their cash from the banks.

The media group, the publishers of The Chronicle, The Herald, Sunday Mail and Sunday News among other titles, said the paper's editorial slant was too critical of the government and the ruling Zanu PF.

But the three-man disciplinary committee chaired by prominent lawyer and chairman of the Zimpapers' board's human resources committee, Sindiso Mazibisa, dismissed all the allegations and ordered Ncube's immediate reinstatement.

"The committee rules the accused has no case to answer…therefore the suspension of Bhekinkosi Ncube be and hereby is lifted," reads the judgment delivered on November 18. The Zimpapers board only discussed the judgment a fortnight ago, sources said.

"And for the avoidance of any doubt (he) is found not guilty and acquitted of the charges.

"He must be reinstated on full pay and benefits with effect from September 16, 2008," reads the judgment.

Paul Chimedza, the vice-chairman of the Zimpapers' board and Chronicle deputy editor Tumeliso Makhurane were the other members of the disciplinary committee.

Sources at Zimpapers said despite the ruling Ncube had not resumed his duties amid fears the government had not accepted the ruling.

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