ASSOCIATED Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ) — the publishers of the inimitable Daily News and the Daily News On Sunday — yesterday paid a moving tribute to the company’s much-loved Assistant Editor, Maxwell Sibanda, who died in Harare late on Sunday.
Sibanda succumbed to renal-related complications at Avenues Clinic, having complained of unbearable stomach aches in recent weeks.
ANZ chairperson, Professor Norman Nyazema, described Sibanda as “a grounded and infectiously down to earth” professional who had made immense contributions to the organisation over many years.
“We were all numbed and saddened beyond words when we received the terrible news that the heartless hand of death had once again struck our family — with the Grim Reaper taking away this universally loved and respected veteran scribe.
“Max was a grounded, infectiously down to earth and infinitely good person who was loyal to our group to the bone — having been with ANZ since the early days of the Daily News two decades ago, and at its improbable relaunch in March 2011.
“Our company is now poorer without him and we will miss him deeply.
“Our heartfelt condolences go to his family and friends, as well as to the entire ANZ and Modus Media family,” Nyazema said.
Sibanda was 52 years old at the time of his death, which came about a year after ANZ also lost another Assistant Editor in team player Gift Phiri.
Sibanda will be buried in Mupatsi Village, in Chikomba District, tomorrow afternoon.
The affable Sibanda joined the Daily News at its inception in 1999, proving at the outset to be a prolific arts and entertainment newspaper man.
After the forced closure of the Daily News by the late former president Robert Mugabe’s government in September 2003, Sibanda briefly went abroad, living in Germany and Austria.
He rejoined the country’s most influential daily paper in late 2010 just before its dramatic relaunch.
Meanwhile, the Media Alliance of Zimbabwe (MAZ) has also expressed its profound sadness over Sibanda’s untimely death.
“Blah Max, as the soft-spoken character was affectionately called within the media circles, leaves behind a rich legacy in journalism.
“Sibanda, who at the time of his demise was serving as the treasurer of the Zimbabwe National Editors Forum (Zinef), was also highly respected in the arts and entertainment industry.
“At the time that he served as Arts and Entertainment Editor, Sibanda would raise the profile of unheralded artistes, introducing them to the mainstream media and national platforms,” MAZ said.
The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn) also paid tribute to Sibanda for his sterling work in election reporting and the promotion of electoral reforms in the country.
“Zesn board members and staff would like to express our deepest condolences to the media industry, the Daily News and his family on the passing on of Sibanda.
“Maxwell was among some of the journalists who had a passion in election reporting and strived to keep the electoral reforms discourse on the national agenda,” ZESN said.
Sibanda was born in 1968 in Harare and first worked in the music recording industry before venturing into journalism.
He worked for a number of publications before joining the Daily News in 1999 where he rose through the ranks to become Assistant Editor.
The scribe is survived by his wife Judith, three children and four grandchildren.