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Journalism: The Fourth or ‘Fought’ Estate

HARARE – Journalism – occasionally referred as the Fourth Estate is under siege.   On average, 70 journalists are killed at work every ...

HARARE – Journalism – occasionally referred as the Fourth Estate is under siege.
 On average, 70 journalists are killed at work every year.   

Writers are often viewed with mistrust and treated with ridicule whenever they err. Death is always lurking.

Words by Derick Matsengarwodzi: media consultant, author of forthcoming books (The Winners’ Workshop and Death is not Dearth) and founder of Aloe Media Group. Let us interact on: Facebook; Email:; Twitter handle: @TinzweiDerick

The detention of three Zimbabwe state media scribes fronted by Sunday Mail editor, Mabasa Sasa is a curious study. Once darlings of the nation, they suddenly turned into villains after electing to protect their source.  

Pen mightier than detention
“… the above events are an indication that journalists can and will protect their profession while at the same time committing themselves to professional, ethical and quality journalism,” Foster Dongozi, the Secretary-General of the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists opined.

Their incarceration went viral. The trio was later released on bail.

For once, media arrests in Harare were perceived as a recipe to quieten independent media practitioners. What a coincidence that UN was commemorating Day Against Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists.  

“Over the past decade, more than 700 journalists have been killed for bringing news and information to the public. Worryingly, only one in ten cases committed against media workers over the past decade has led to a conviction.

This impunity emboldens the perpetrators of the crimes and at the same time has a chilling effect on society including journalists themselves. Impunity breeds impunity and feeds into a vicious cycle.”       

This day observe the assassination of two French journalists in Mali on 2 November 2013.    

Anas Amrew Anas
The profession might be a threat to some but elsewhere it has brought relief.

Ghanaian investigative journalist Anas Amrew Anas has become an instant hero for trying to expose corruption and human rights abuse with his latest documentary.

The pseudonym character recently unleashed an anti-corruption film entitled Ghana in the Eyes of God, Epic of Injustice – a documentary that will transform the Ghanaian judiciary. 

He insists, “The most powerful weapon against corruption is transparency and exposure. His life’s work is to ‘name, shame and jail’ people who hurt others and break the law.

His three-hour documentary resulted in the suspension of seven of Ghana’s 12 High Court judges and 22 lower court judges who were secretly filmed in an alleged judicial bribery and corruption scandal.

Money, sex, yams and even a goat were among the alleged pay-offs. In exchange, many robbers, murderers, drug dealers, rapists and others allegedly received shortened sentences or went free.

Anas work under disguise and pretend to engage with ‘bad people’ who he then tries to film committing crimes.

People rarely see his face. Even when he gives public talks about his work or receives awards, he hides it. Many have queried if corruption charges against these judicial officials are true.

‘I write want I want’
Judges, magistrates, court clerks, policemen and state attorneys have been captured in the documentary, almost identical to the poaching story in Harare.

The disclosure has sent shivers within the judiciary system, with one judge arguing that the revelation “brings the authority and administration of the law into disrespect and disrepute…”

Other defendants have demanded that he remove his disguise in court. Luckily, he is protected by the Whistle Blower’s Act – he must not be unmasked. 

While not his first choice, Anas says he believes working in disguise is necessary, given the powerful and sometimes dangerous subjects of his investigations.

This takes us back to Harare. While journalism should not attract an immunity embargo, it deserves a mention for trying to shape society. Anas is putting his nation first – a true patriot.   
And the solidarity exhibited at trial inspires a profession under siege. – The Aloe News 

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