Conrad Mwanawashe: Herald Reporter
PEOPLE abusing public funds must be held accountable and should carry their crosses without hiding behind political party affiliation to avoid punishment, Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo has said.In apparent reference to Zanu-PF Mashonaland West provincial chairman Cde Temba Mliswa who on Tuesday claimed the media exposés on the “extortionate” demands he made to businessman Mr Conrad “Billy” Rautenbach were politically motivated, Prof Moyo said it was “primitive” for anyone fingered in corruption to expect the media to molly-coddle them.
“This is the ultimate corrupt act to say you abuse public funds, you are caught with your hands in the till, it is published and then you say it is destroying the party.
“That is the worst expression of corruption,’’ Prof Moyo said in his address during the inaugural meeting of the Information and Media Panel of Inquiry yesterday.
“You want us to keep quiet under the pretext that what you did that is unlawful was for your party and that if it comes out — just because you belong to that political party — you will go down with the political party. That doesn’t make sense.
“That is a primitive understanding of things. It is you and you alone, carry your cross. It has nothing to do with the party,” Prof Moyo said. He went on: “What you are doing is not in the constitution of the party, not in the regulations of the party, not in the policies of the party. It is actually against the party. You were stealing alone.
“If we keep quiet about it and then the public discovers outside the media, they will say this guy was stealing for the party. They will say this party is corrupt and all they are talking about is some guy.”
He said some people were trying to use their political allegiance as a shield for their corruption, blackmailing the media by claiming that publication of their crimes would destroy their parties. Prof Moyo said he was surprised by colleagues who said their dirty linen was being publicly aired because of a political agenda against them.
“That is not the point, the question is did you take the money and were you entitled to it? If the answer is that yes, you took the money and you were not entitled to it, should we stop publishing the story because of your political identity?” he asked.
The minister cited the salarygate scandal, saying those involved were not sent by any party to pay themselves obscenely with public funds.
“What is sinister, and the media has allowed this, is that some of the colleagues across the political divide think that if they put their hands in the till and take some money that is not due to them and you publish, that publication will harm their party.
“They then say you are destroying the party by publishing that I stole some money. How can that destroy the party? And when you uncover, as is clearly the case with reference to the salarygate stories, they were not sent by parties but they were enjoying; they were living large with their families and their friends,” said Prof Moyo.
Prof Moyo also said the media should highlight bad practices within their own organisations.
“One of the things that is fundamentally wrong about our media in structural and operational terms is that it is characterised by very bad governance. Use your experience to unpack the bad practices where you are coming from. There are a lot of bad practices that are done by media owners,” the minister said.
He rapped some political party leaders who claimed the media belonged to them and should not expose their misdeeds saying the media have to play their watchdog role. Information, Media and Broadcasting Services deputy minister Cde Supa Mandiwanzira and permanent secretary Mr George Charamba also attended the meeting.
This article was first published in The Herald of April 3,2014.