Media urged to be cautious on national security issues

The Government has urged the media to treat matters to do with the country’s security establishments with care and sensitivity and desist from leading internal processes that might be taking place in the organisations.

This comes as the Zimbabwe Defence Forces has informed the nation that it was premature to make conclusions about allegations made by an online news organisation, The NewsHawks, which sought to impute corruption on three General officers in the ZDF.

The ZDF has also warned social media mischief makers who doctored its original statement responding to an article by The NewsHawks in which the news organisation sought to besmirch other people in the military command in its story about the three General officers.

In its article published last week, The NewsHawks, quoting unnamed sources, claimed that ZDF had fired three army commanders after they were allegedly implicated in a multi-million dollar housing scandal.

In an interview yesterday, Deputy Chief Secretary in the Office of the President and Cabinet (Presidential Communications) Mr George Charamba said the media should exercise caution when dealing with matters of national security establishments.

“We continue to urge the media fraternity to treat stories to do with security structures of this country with utmost care and sensitivity. 

“The ZDF has got its own internal processes to investigate any allegation against any of its members and it is always prudent for the media to follow, rather than seek to lead such a process. Leading through advocacy muddies the water and may invite some responses, which may not be that palatable,” said Mr Charamba.

The NewsHawks has since issued a statement saying it had frozen articles to do with ZDF’s three commanders.

The news organisation went on to play a victim card, by chronicling incidents where it claimed that it had received backlash arising from its stories about security establishments.

Commenting on the statement from The NewsHawks, Mr Charamba said the media should appreciate that security concerns of a country take precedence ahead of one’s preferences or values.

“Whatever your values or priorities might be, nothing surpasses or rises above the security concerns of this country,” said Mr Charamba.

In its response to the story, ZDF said it had launched an investigation into an alleged corruption case by three general officers to establish the veracity of the allegations.

It slammed the media particularly The NewsHawks for peddling falsehoods about the organisation and individuals associated with it.

“The Zimbabwe Defence Forces wishes to reaffirm and reassure the public of its commitment to the rule of law, discipline, presumption of innocence and zero tolerance to corruption in whatever form and whatever level,” it said.

“The Zimbabwe Defence Forces, however, notes with great concern attempts by NewsHawks and other media outlets to peddle falsehoods about the organisation and individuals taking advantage of the alleged corruption matter currently under investigation. The public will be apprised on any developments and outcomes in due course.”

Following the statement from the ZDF, some social media mischief makers issued a doctored press statement purporting to be emanating from the military establishment.

The statement imputed misdemeanour on senior persons of the military command, which the ZDF denounced.

“The ZDF, however, notes with great concern that some mischievous social media players have now doctored the last three paragraphs of the statement to distort the content of the original response by the ZDF to the NewsHawks

“In that regard, the ZDF dissociates itself from the letter purported to be from the ZDF headquarters circulating on social media, which is different from what it had posted,” reads the statement.


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