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William ‘Bill’ Saidi, a classic example of Zanu PF media capture.

by Stephen Jakes
05 Jan 2017 at 16:02hrs | Views
The passing on of journalist cum writer Bill Saidi in Zambia yesterday opened a can of worms in Zapu circles especially in as far as the Gukurahundi genocide of the 1980s is concerned, Zapu has said in a statement.

Zapu deputy spokesperson Iphithule Maphosa said when Zapu, being a party that holds dearly to the principles of ubuntu, gave a condolence message to the Saidi family and media community, a lot of members and supporters were confused, with some displaying anger at the party for what they termed ignoring the atrocious behavior by Saidi as editor at ZimPapers.

"Zapu does not hold grudges and does not put blame where it is not deserved, the party members were reminded. In the same breath, Saidi's role and editorials during the notorious Gukurahundi era has to be explained and there is no better explanation except that state media in Zimbabwe is under ZANU PF capture and a man of Saidi's caliber could not do anything about it," he said.

"In one of Bill's stories in the 24 May 1984 edition of ZimPapers, he attributed the existence of "dissidents" to PF Zapu and went further to suggest that Dr Joshua Nkomo be retired while the entire leadership should be changed in order to eliminate the "dissidents".

 He said this and many other incidences in Saidi's reporting was the source of frowns shown to the party by its members and supporters soon after conveying the condolence message, justifiable and naturally expected, especially from Zapu who were at the receiving end of the genocide, losing 20 000plus supporters to the Fifth Brigade murders.

"Saidi, during his stint at ZimPapers never reported objectively about PF Zapu. He followed the same line as that of the perpetrators and executors of Gukurahundi," Maphosa said.

 "After stumbling on one of Bill's articles as I opened my eyes to the world of current affairs, I developed keen interest, in retrospect, in knowing exactly what he thought about Zapu and what befell the mother party in independent Zimbabwe. I became a curious follower of his writings as a result."

 "As I grew, I had the rarest opportunity to interact with Bill Saidi and as all will expect, I raised the issues pertaining to PF Zapu and Gukurahundi," he added.

Maphosa said he asked Saidi if what he reported about PF Zapu and Joshua Nkomo was what actually was happening.

"I asked him if indeed "dissidents" existed and were Nkomo and ZAPU's creation and responsibility. I asked Bill if he at all believed the news he propagated during his time as editor at the government stable. The old man should have read my mind. He should have known that I expected nothing but the truth from him and in his response he went straight to the point. He was short and unexpectedly blunt in his answer to my three questions," he said.

 "All he said was, "boy, you are way too young to ever understand this issue. I was supposed to report the existence of the so called dissidents; I had to make sure they are attributed to PF Zapu and no, I did not believe the news as reported under my editorship". My jaw almost dropped. At the same time, I felt pity for the old man. It dawned on me that Bill was only an exceptional scribe but lacked the balls required to deal with a carnivourous regime in the mould of ZANU PF, which was on a destructive path to achieve a one party state in Zimbabwe. A good writer with missing elements of a good reporter and journalist-that is what Saidi, all of a sudden, became to me."

He said he was quickly reminded of one Geoff Nyarota, who was labeled an apologist to dissidents and enemy of state.

"Nyarota stood for ethics and professionalism during the genocide. He took an independent stand, despite the risks involved, which later paid dividends as Geoff today stands tall among the very few ethically proven journalists in Zimbabwe. Saidi did not belong in the category of Geoff Nyarota. He is one of the many reporters and editors who were too timid to tell the truth about the period between 1982 and 1987. He falls in the category of those who, for the fear of Zanu PF and the fear of being classified either as apologists or enemies of state, chose to go with the propaganda flow and in some cases aiding the Zanu PF propaganda machine, that misled the nation and world that PF Zapu had dissidents intending to overthrow Mugabe's government.  This is why I felt pity for the old man. He simply had no courage to stand up to Zanu PF," he said.   

 "I became angry but very quickly composed myself and continued with the conversation. At the end of the short interaction, I was clear about one thing, that Bill Saidi, just like many other editors after him and reporters in the public media are under Zanu PF capture. It became crystal clear to me that the editorial teams are there only to window dress the news rooms while Zanu PF ran the ZimPapers stable to churn out their propaganda."

 "As my conversation with Saidi revealed, there was a sad realization that the man was actually imprisoned by the editor's title at ZimPapers and took responsibility and blame as editor for Zanu PF and Mugabe's propaganda, in the process taking the fall for misleading the nation and world over the Gukurahundi genocide," he added.

"Mugabe and Zanu PF managed to spread and apportion blame, responsibility and culpability of Gukurahundi to as many people and sectors of the Zimbabwean society and Saidi was one of these. Today he is unpopular with the Zapu family for pronouncements he made back in the 80s, and his death yesterday became a reminder to many of the genocide the nation is yet to find closure on."

He said Saidi, just like many others who have been unfortunate enough to work for the government media outlets, is a classic example of puppetry in the public media at the hands of the Zanu PF regime.

"Half the times, these poor souls take the fall for the regime's clandestine and destructive handling and abuse of the state media. Saidi today stands accused of culpability in Gukurahundi for merely being employed by a murderous regime of Zanu PF. The blood of 20 000 plus is counted on Saidi today for allowing himself to be a puppet of Mugabe and Zanu PF. He was not brave enough to walk away from imprisonment by ZimPapers which was under capture of Zanu PF. Neither was he bold enough to take an ethical position that is independent of interference by politicians, hence today, Saidi is as blood soaked as Mugabe and Zanu PF," he said.

"Bill Saidi has passed on, and with him to the grave goes sins he committed by his lack of bravery and boldness, which, in media fraternity, usually amount to lack of ethics. As apparently clear from my conversation with him, he could not stand up to Zanu PF during his stay at ZimPapers; neither could he influence a shift towards ethical and true reporting. He should have walked out."

 "He however stayed and continued taking instructions to peddle lies about Dr Nkomo and the mother party. He continued spreading news he did not believe himself and hence, we correctly and justifiably hold him culpable of what Gukurahundi did to Zanu and its supporters." 





Source - Byo24News