ZUJ President New Year Message

George Maponga ZUJ President

I hope I find all of you well as we begin the new year.

The year 2023 begins on the backdrop of unfavourable developments in the media industry marked by appalling working conditions for

Most journalists had a bleak Christmas and New Year holidays with their families because of the usual evils of poor remuneration and in most extreme cases non-payment of salaries at all.

ZUJ remains very much concerned about the deteriorating welfare of journalists across the media industry in Zimbabwe where journalists do
not only work for extra-ordinarily long hours without over-time or other corresponding incentives but are also barely paid.

Failure to remunerate journalists decent and living wages coupled with non-payment of salaries in most extreme circumstances is not only a festering sore that threatens to explode in the face of ethical journalism but is also breeding brown envelope journalism.

As the fourth estate the media should on top of educating and informing the nation play the watchdog role but that esteemed responsibility is now gravely compromised because of poor remuneration with most journalists living from hand to mouth while other are living in total squalour.

We have had cases where journalists are fired from work arbitrarily without any compensation thereby condemning them to pauperhood while
in some cases we have correspondents who contribute stories for periods up to six months without getting paid for their work.

All this injustice and degrading treatment has the sole effect of compromising ethical standards across the industry at a time when the media is trying to professionalise and be a vital cog of the ongoing drive by the Second Republic to transform Zimbabwe into an upper middle income society by 2030.

There is urgent need by authorities and media stakeholders to look into the issue of welfare of journalists. While the issue of an industry National Employment Council remains high on the agenda of ZUJ there is also need for media employers to show will to address challenges affecting media workers most of whom roam the streets as virtual paupers.

We call upon authorities to treat the issue of media employees welfare as a matter of urgent concern and rescue the industry from deteriorating beyond redemption.

While it is evident for all to see that the media survives on a solid advertising base which is a reflection of economic performance in any country, we feel something could also be done to assuage the effects of the prevailing adverse economic environment to rescue the industry.

We have always implored authorities to come up with a post Covid-19 relief package for the industry to help it recover and enable a soft landing through interventions like waiver of duty on importation of newsprint or even availing cheap foreign currency for that.

The need to rescue the media industry becomes even more pertinent as the nation staggers towards this year’s elections. Most media
organisations are in financial doldrums and require solid logistical bases to cover the period before, during and after the elections which
is the hallmark of any democracy.

The current scenario where morale among media workers is at its lowest coupled with crippling financial holes within the industry does not
bode well in the face of challenges that lie ahead.

It is thus our humble appeal to authorities and stakeholders to urgently look into the issue of appalling working conditions for media
employees in Zimbabwe and the general state of near paralysis and infirmity in the media industry in Zimbabwe.

As ZUJ,we remain amenable to engagement with stakeholders and authorities to find solutions to some of the challenges threatening to snuff life out of the media industry in Zimbabwe.

Happy 2023.

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