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Major Zimpapers shake-up looms



THE state-controlled Zimbabwe Newspapers (1980) Ltd (Zimpapers) will soon appoint new editors after announcing a new board chaired by former Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Misheck Sibanda’s wife Doreen Joyce Sibanda.

Misheck Sibanda, who was replaced by Martin Rushwaya last year in September, is a relative and political ally of President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

This makes Doreen a relative of Mnangagwa through marriage. Rushwaya is also a relative of the President.

Sources at Herald House say The Herald editor Hatred Zenenga is definitely going and will be replaced by one of his senior colleagues.

Zenenga was reportedly appointed with the help of former Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa.

Current Information minister Jenfan Muswere and the new board and management want a new editor for The Herald and other newspapers.

The list of new editors is being finalised and will be approved by board and management before announcement soon.

Mnangagwa is said to be interested to know who the new editors will be, particularly for The Herald, Zimpapers’ flagship.

There was recently a serious attempt to bring someone from the ministry as The Herald editor and the plan is still under consideration, although it remains touch-and-go.

The state-controlled media is a critical piece in the government and Zanu PF information and propaganda puzzle, as well as communication matrix. Doreen, who has served on several boards, is former executive director of the National Gallery of Zimbabwe.

She previously served on the Zimpapers board from 2014 to 2019. Doreen also served on other boards including the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, NMB Bank, Great Zimbabwe University, National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Women University in Africa and Postal Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) where she was also chair.

As initially reported by The NewsHawks at the weekend, Doreen replaces the outgoing board led by veteran journalist and sports administrator Tommy Sithole.

Other new board members include veteran media trainer who is an international relations, journalism and political studies researcher at Africa University, Potraz director-general Gift Machengete, veteran journalist George Chisoko, NetOne group chief executive Raphael Mushanawani, lawyer Phillip Mbano, and financial expert Rutendo Mangudya, who is Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe John Mangudya’s daughter.

Four other members from the old board, including Zimpapers chief executive Pikirayi Deketeke, have been retained until the annual general meeting in June.

The publicly-owned listed Zimpapers is the oldest newspaper organisation and commercial printer locally, as well as the largest publisher, having been in the industry since 1891, a year after Cecil John Rhodes’ colonial Pioneer Column arrived in Zimbabwe.

Apart from newspapers, it also runs radio and online television stations. Sithole, formerly editor of The Herald and Zimpapers editor-in-chief, has left after serving the group for decades on and off, leaving a largely great legacy with one rough patch.

Those who know Sithole well from a professional point of view speak of him in glowing editorial and management terms during his era, except specifically on the issue of Zimpapers editors’ collective failures on Gukurahundi when they faced the most difficult challenge of their careers.

Zimpapers editors at the time have difficulties explaining how they handled that political hot potato. Sithole, a liberation struggle cadre with Zanu PF, was a basketball player in his youth.

 A good story-teller, he became a prominent sports journalist, covering Olympic Games, World Cups, and the Commonwealth Games, among many other events.

In 1980, he was appointed Zimpapers editor-in-chief. He would later serve as the group chair, beginning in 2019. In 1983, he was appointed the first black editor of the Bulawayo-based Chronicle at the height of Gukurahundi. Sithole was an active member of the Zimbabwe Air Force and became Air Zimbabwe director.

In 1982, he was elected president of the Zimbabwean Olympic Committee. He also served in executive positions with the Confederation of Southern African National Olympic Committees, the Association of the Olympic Committees of Africa, and the Association of National Olympic Committees.

He led the organising committee for the 6th All-African Games in Zimbabwe in 1995. Sithole was co-opted onto the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1996.

He served until 2003. He was on the IOC executive board between 2002-2003. He stepped down as an IOC member when president Jacques Rogge asked him to take over the position of director of international cooperation and development of the IOC.

Sithole spent 12 years in that position (2003-2014), which also led him to become a deputy representative for the IOC at the United Nations.— STAFF WRITER.

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