HARARE – Self-proclaimed preacher and “miracle worker” Emmanuel Makandiwa has received brickbats for his drive to have the Daily News shut down.
Media bodies and some church leaders yesterday came out guns blazing, accusing the 36-year-old showman of resorting to the sword while a path lay open for negotiations.
Makandiwa, through his lawyers, has written to the State-controlled Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) to “severely punish” the Daily News, a move more associated with war mongering.
He is now under fire for wielding the axe, an action which observers say is far removed from Biblical teachings.
The Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) yesterday condemned the move by Makandiwa to beg the ZMC to wield the axe on the Daily News.
Misa said the move was unfortunate and had the potential to cast the youthful preacher as an enemy of media freedom who is ganging up with state apparatus to cow the media.
“As Misa Zimbabwe, we urge those offended by the media to approach the Voluntary Media Council for redress. Nudging a state body or institution to punish the media can only cast those involved as accomplices in the erosion of media freedom in the country, more-so if the paper has already issued an apology or retraction which is the international best practice,” Misa Zimbabwe director Nhlahla Ngwenya said.
“Zimbabweans are a discerning lot and they can easily withdraw their hard earned dollar should they find a publication to be discredited. There can never be a greater punishment for the media than public withdrawal of support and public figures should know this instead of resorting to confrontational positions,” said Ngwenya.
The VMCZ has on its part invited Makandiwa to abandon his shoot-from-the-hip gunslinger attitude and emulate the example of his colleague Uerbert Angel, who approached the body last year when he had issues with the paper and had his case amicably resolved.
“Makandiwa has the open invitation to approach the VMCZ to which the Daily News subscribes.
It is unfortunate that he has chosen the path he has taken. But it is our hope that the pastor changes his mind and follows the route taken by his colleague Angel, whose issue with the same paper we amicably resolved without having to seek to criminally punish each other,” VMCZ director Takura Zhangazha said.
The Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (Zuj) joined in, condemning Makandiwa’s actions.
Zuj said Makandiwa’s demands, if acted upon, would result in the loss of employment at a time the country badly needs more opportunities.
Zuj acting president Michael Chideme said: “We are against the banishment of newspapers because it throws our members into the streets at a time we as country are fighting unemployment. You don’t use a sledge hammer. We don’t subscribe to that mentality of punishing people that way as these things need to be discussed and resolved amicably.”
Some members of the clergy, such as Misheck Kativu, a reverend with the Great Fellowship Church said Makandiwa was offside.
“It is wrong for us as people of God to seek to have media organisations closed. We must perform miracles that help people not those that muzzle the press because people desperately need information .Makandiwa probably needs the Daily News more than anyone else because it was influential in his rise to fame,” said Kativu.
“He must realise that he is not reinventing the wheel in the Christian realm. Miracles have always been there so he must not be overexcited to the extent of trying to silence newspapers,” he said.
Makandiwa has approached ZMC, the body that is in charge of regulating and deregistering media houses and journalists, seeking severe action against the Daily News.
The move by the controversial preacher comes soon after he withdrew his High Court action against the paper in which he was demanding $2 million for allegedly failing to publish an apology over an error that appeared in the Daily News’ poster in December last year.
The poster read: Anglican saga sucks in Makandiwa instead of Anglican saga sucks in banks.
In his request to ZMC, Makandiwa wants the state body to use its power under chapter 10:27 of the notorious Access to Information and Protect ion of Privacy Act (Aippa) to deregister the newspaper.
The Daily News is not new to hostility.
It has in the past been bombed by unknown assailants and shut down by the government. – Mugove Tafirenyika