South African editors defend Sophie Mokoena’s obsession with Zimbabwean affairs




PRETORIA, South Africa – South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has invited Zanu PF’s director of information Tafadzwa Mugwadi to reveal his threatened “bombshell” regarding a recent visit by an ANC delegation to Zimbabwe. Mugwadi has been embroiled in a prolonged war of words with SABC foreign editor Sophie Mokoena over what he claims to be biased reporting by South Africa’s public broadcaster. Mugwadi recently wrote on Twitter: “If the ANC and SABC News do not restrain and reign [rein in] Sophie Mokoena whose fake news reporting and tweeting is directed at undermining a neighbouring country and President E.D Mnangagwa for no apparent reason, I will seek permission to leak a bombshell on why the ANC delegation came.” Speaking to the SABC as the ANC marked its 109th anniversary this past week, Ramaphosa said Mugwadi should reveal his “bombshell”. Ramaphosa said: “In relation to Zimbabwe, I don’t know what the representative of Zanu PF was talking about. I’m sure he will be willing to share all that with the ANC and with all of us. We sent a delegation, as the African National Congress, to Zimbabwe because Zanu PF is a sister party to us. “We have deep and strong links with Zanu PF and it [the trip] was to express concern and also to find out what’s happening and to see the extent to which we can either be supportive and to fully understand what is happening. So as far as we are concerned there is nothing amiss and there is nothing we could say we have to hide. “At government level, I appointed three envoys who went to Zimbabwe and we continue to interact with Zimbabwe, and I am also in contact with President Mnangagwa on an ongoing basis.” Mugwadi made the threat in reaction to what he has called “hostile reportage” against Zimbabwe and Zanu PF by the SABC, and allegedly spearheaded by Mokoena, who often tags Mnangagwa in her Twitter posts. Some of her tweets have, however, been flagged as “fake news”, particularly by Zanu PF, as the pictures “depict incidents that did not happen in Zimbabwe.” Recently, Mokoena asked Mnangagwa to explain the situation at the Beitbridge border post as thousands of Zimbabweans queued to enter South Africa. On Sunday, Mokoena tackled Mugwadi, accusing him of floor-crossing and singing for his supper, joining Zanu PF after he was previously an active member of the opposition-aligned Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU). Mokoena shared a picture to her legion of followers, allegedly depicting Mugwadi attending an event of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change. In some of his tweets, Mugwadi has called Mokoena “an embattled marriage wrecker in newsrooms”, an “urchin”, a “little girl” and in another tweet Mugwadi said Mokoena was “a concubine” of a senior ANC leader. He also accused Mokoena of dating one of Zimbabwe’s former cabinet ministers who had fled to South Africa. The South African National Editors Forum (Sanef) has also called on the Zanu PF leadership to step in and discipline Mugwadi. On Saturday, Sanef said Mugwadi’s remarks against Mokoena were a bid to “intimidate, harass, and stop her from doing her job.” – African News Agency (ANA)

The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef), which was accused by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) of being fascist and biased in its reporting, has called for the release of Zimbabwean journalist cum political activist Hopewell Chin’ono and an end to the online abuse of female journalists.

The call comes after that country’s governing party Zanu-PF’s director of information and publicity, Tafadzwa Tuboy Mugwadi, directed “sexist and misogynistic vitriol” at SABC foreign editor Sophie Mokoena.

“Sanef has sadly noted the blatant sexist and misogynistic vitriol directed from Mugwadi to… Mokoena in a bid to intimidate, harass and stop her from doing her job of reporting on Zimbabwe and the continent,” the organisation said.

“Mugwadi seems to have taken it personally that Mokoena asked tough questions about the whereabouts of Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa amid the coronavirus crisis in the country.”

Sanef has advised Mugwadi and Zanu-PF to direct any complaints about Mokoena’s reporting to the SABC management and the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa (BCCSA).

Attacks on journalists ‘not new’

But the organisation said attacks on female journalists were not new.

“In September 2020, we expressed our serious concern about the vicious online and social media trolling of women journalists and media workers in Zimbabwe. At the time, we cautioned against the tweets by George Charamba, the press secretary in the Office of the President of Zimbabwe and permanent secretary in the Ministry of Information of Zimbabwe, who was behind the attacks on Mokoena and a colleague Peter Ndoro.

“We cautioned that Charamba’s actions – assisted by Nick Mangwana, secretary for information in Zimbabwe – were creating significant professional harm. We asked them to stop,” Sanef said.

‘Relentless harassment’

Sanef has also called for an end to “the relentless intimidation and harassment” of Chin’ono, an award-winning freelance journalist and documentary filmmaker.

Chin’ono was arrested for the third time on Friday after tweeting about an incident in which a child died after allegedly being beaten by a police officer.

“Chin’ono was among many Zimbabweans who tweeted about the incident, demanding answers. In response, the police offered a different version of events in a statement,” Sanef said.

Chin’ono was arrested in July on charges of inciting violent anti-government protests, and again in November on charges of obstructing justice.

“Sanef believes that this hostile environment is a direct attack on freedom of expression,” the organisation said.

EFF once said Sanef was trying to shut down the EFF to campaign for the ruling party. Senior journalists, including SANEF members, have been linked to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s controversial #ThumaMina media WhatsApp group. The group received particular scorn from the EFF, which claimed it was evidence that certain journalists were part of a ‘cabal’ openly supporting the Ramaphosa faction.

Source – news24