Statement: Article by The Herald Newspaper

Women’s Academy for Leadership and Political Excellence (WALPE) is dismayed and alarmed by the reckless and patently false article by the Herald edition of 17 May 2019 under the headline ‘Plot to unleash violent protests unearthed.’ The story lacked all basic ethical requirements of a media piece and went on to make brazenly false allegations which are designed to malign the name and good standing of WALPE and those who are associated with the organisation.

This story makes grave allegations of violence and plots to illegally oust the Government which can have far reaching consequences for WALPE, its workers and membership. Basic journalistic ethics demand that a journalist should balance the story by giving all concerned parties an opportunity to share their side of the story around the allegations from the primary source yet this basic tenet was not followed. Instead, the Herald went on to put out a story which is laced with editorial intrusions with a hidden agenda of tarnishing the image and reputation of WALPE.

The actions by the Herald reporter, Lawson Mabhena, the editors and the board of the parent company Zimpapers Pvt Ltd are clearly a violation of the law and as WALPE we thus demand unconditional retraction of the false story and an apology to be given the same prominence as this false story. Failure to issue such retraction and apology to the satisfaction of the conditions we have stated above within the next 48 hours shall see our legal team taking action against all the parties responsible for this dastardly act.

This article is in fact the real threat to peace and security in the country and not a genuine organisation that is lawfully registered and operating in Zimbabwe to advance gender equality and the empowerment of women. We further hold that the actions of the Herald are in violation of Section 61 subsection 4 (b), (c) and 5 (a), (b) and (c) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe which stipulate that: “…All State-owned media of communication must be impartial, afford fair opportunity for the presentation of divergent views and dissenting opinions…. Freedom of expression and freedom of the media exclude: incitement to violence, advocacy of hatred or hate speech and malicious injury to a person’s reputation or dignity…” The story violates the above constitutional provisions by maliciously attempting to mislead authorities and the public on the motives and work of WALPE.

AS WALPE, we declare that we are not a violent organisation and are committed only to the empowerment of women to take up leadership positions from local to national levels. We therefore call upon the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC), the Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC), and the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) to rein in on the Herald which is clearly bent on sowing divisions and promoting hatred amongst Zimbabwean citizens.

Source: Women’s Academy for Leadership and Political Excellence (WALPE)

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