NewsDay editor ousted after Mnangagwa spokesman claims he is on payroll

HARARE – A seemingly innocuous Twitter post by George Charamba, the president’s spokesman, has ousted NewsDay editor Wisdom Mdzungairi.

Mdzungairi, who doubled up as editor in chief of Alpha Media Holdings, quit on Monday, a day after President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s spokesman claimed an unnamed NewsDay editor was on the government’s payroll as a public relations officer at the local government ministry.

Charamba had posted criticism of a journalist from an online newspaper whom he described as “an activist wielding a pen and profession.”

Another Twitter user, claiming to have done a Google search of the journalist’s name, chimed in claiming that particular journalist was “a pure opposition member hiding behind the pen.”

In response, Charamba wrote: “There are a lot of them, some are at NewsDay, interned by a NewsDay editor who is now a government communicator at local government ministry.”

ZimLive understands executives at Alpha Media Holdings, which owns NewsDay, asked Mdzungairi to respond to Charamba’s accusations and he promptly offered his resignation.

In a letter to staff dated January 16, AMH’s human resources executive Levy Tswatswa said: “We write to announce the resignation of Mr Wisdom Mdzungairi from the position of editor in chief effective January 16, 2023. Mr Mdzungairi has decided to pursue other interests.”

Tswatswa said The Standard’s editor, Kholwani Nyathi, would be acting editor in chief while veteran newsman Zerubabel Mudzingwa takes temporary charge as acting editor of NewsDay.

AMH has come under heavy government criticism in recent months over its stridently critical tone. But the newspaper group has also been struggling to shake off accusations that it has been infiltrated, this after Mnangagwa’s son-in-law Gerald Mlotshwa took sizeable shareholding after previously sponsoring publisher Trevor Ncube’s talk show, ‘In Conversation with Trevor.’

Staff at AMH say they have not been paid their December salaries as the group struggles to stay afloat after Covid-19 hit copy sales and put advertising revenues in terminal decline.

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