Charamba loyalists targeted in fresh round of purges at The Herald

Tichaona Zindoga (standing left) with Mnangagwa and Sunday Mail deputy editor Ranga Mataire last month
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HARARE – The Herald’s acting editor Tichaona Zindoga has rung the changes at the Zimpapers title, controversially deploying three senior journalists to provincial offices in a purge targeting loyalists of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s spokesman George Charamba.

News editor Takunda Maodza will head The Herald’s bureau in Mutare; chief reporter Felex Share has been exiled to Chinhoyi while senior reporter Tendai Mugabe will head the Masvingo bureau, ZimLive understands.

Lawson Mabhena has been promoted to news editor.

Tendai Hildegarde Manzvanzvike, who was the group foreign editor, has been redeployed to a new unit called the Knowledge Centre, along with Tafadzwa Mugwadi, who was handling their social media.

Meanwhile, in an unrelated development The Herald’s deputy sports editor Petros Kausiyo has joined their sister paper the Sunday Mail as sports editor, replacing Makomborero Mthimkhulu who has been drafted by Zimpapers Television Network.

The affected journalists are reportedly determined to challenge their re-assignment, which they feel is unfair and unreasonable, according to sources.

“They have been told that it’s a lateral transfer, which means they keep the same pay grade, but moving a whole news editor to a provincial outpost is clearly absurd,” said one journalist sympathetic to the group.

He added: “In any case Zindoga is only acting in the position, where does he derive such sweeping authority?”

Zindoga took over as acting editor after Joram Nyathi was sacked in January this year for failing to put a picture of Mnangagwa on the front page.

Nyathi had replaced Caesar Zvayi in December last year, in a reshuffle which also saw the Sunday Mail editor Mabasa Sasa sidelined with Victoria Ruzvidzo taking command at the top-selling weekly.

Zvayi and Sasa were adherents of Charamba, who as Information Ministry secretary had direct supervision over Zimpapers until he was re-assigned to deputy cabinet secretary in September of last year. In the new role, Charamba is only the spokesman for Mnangagwa.

Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa and the new secretary Nick Mangwana were furious after Charamba sidelined their new editorial picks for foreign trips with Mnangagwa. Charamba, ZimLive has been told, directly informed Zvayi, Sasa, Mugabe and Maodza on separate occasions that they would be travelling on foreign trips with Mnangagwa, undermining the new editors.

The latest purge will be seen as a revenge attack by the ‘new sheriffs’ in the ministry, who are increasingly annoyed at what they see as continuing attempts by Charamba to control Zimpapers.

“The acting editor thinks the affected journalists are disloyal, and so decided they must be far away from his newsroom,” another journalist at the stable said.

Zimpapers is contested territory among Zanu PF factions, who use the newspaper stable to advance their narratives. Although Charamba is Mnangagwa’s spokesman, it is believed that his loyalty is to the president’s deputy, Constantino Chiwenga. – ZimLive