Call for Probe Into Death of Mujuru

By Chief K.Masimba Biriwasha

Harare, Zimbabwe – As the nation mourns the passing on of one of its most illustrious and gallant sons, we firmly call for a thorough, independent investigation into his death. His untimely death has indeed shocked and stirred the emotions of many Zimbabweans.

An inquiry should be undertaken without delay to shed light on the circumstances and those responsible, if any, for the death.

Given that Zimbabwe has a bloody history of political assassinations; one cannot blame some people from rushing to unfounded conclusions, and nothing less than a transparent inquiry will put the matter to rest.

There must be no stone left unturned and no sacred cows left untouched, and that probe must meet international standards. The investigation must be conducted with absolute impartiality and professionalism. While we acknowledge the emotional reactions to Mujuru’s death has aroused, the investigation must be conducted with proper planning, transparency and level-headedness.

Forensic specialists must be brought in to investigate the factors surrounding his death. To clear any suspicion of foul play, we propose that expertise from a “neutral country” could be brought to unravel all aspects that led to his death. For example, was he alone at the time that his house caught fire? Where were his security guards? What caused the fire?

Put bluntly, the probe must establish the circumstances, causes and consequences of the assassination. The appointed investigators must collect information and evidence and interview any persons that are deemed relevant to the inquiry.

All the information must be collected and made public in a timely manner in order to allay any fears that our beloved land is sliding into a new era of internecine feud within the highest echelons of power.

It’s in the interests of the Zimbabwean state that the truth comes out. Unmasking the circumstances behind Mujuru’s death is not only a national duty; it will help to calm people’s spirits and put a stop to the accusations being bandied about in the public sphere.

Retired General Solomon Mujuru’s Death Lights Up Social Media

By Chief K.Masimba Biriwasha

Harare, Zimbabwe – Once again, social media and mobile telephony makes the news for breaking the news.

Early Tuesday, social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, were abuzz with news of Retired General Solomon Mujuru’s death. Mujuru, who was 62, died in a fire accident at his home.

Social networks carried vital information to Zimbabweans both locally and abroad ahead of traditional news outlets.  Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia, had by mid-morning updated its profile on Mujuru to indicate that he had died.

If anything, this proves that social networks and the mobile have indeed come to Zimbabwe in a big way, and will increasingly become a source of local news developments.

The news went viral as people shared news via their mobiles phones and on social media platforms.

By mid-morning, the national broadcaster, Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, had not yet carried news of Mujuru’s death, prompting some people to question its news-gathering approach.

With technology and news in the digital age spreading information so quickly, the broadcast network was rather slow to fill the information gap.

Regardless, the news spread like wildfire across the twittersphere and of course on to Facebook, with many Zimbabweans expressing shock, commenting and sharing the sad news.

Reporting on Mujuru’s death confirms that conventional news media in Zimbabwe have to position themselves appropriately in relation to the social networks and mobile phones to report news.

However, even though people heard the news of Mujuru’s death on social networks, they still wanted the information to be verified. Twitter, Facebook, and other social networks encourage people to speculate.

As much as they can be a source of news, social networks can be a repository for false or misleading reports.

What is required is for conventional news outlets to leverage on the power of social networks without compromising traditional journalism principles such as accuracy, brevity, objectivity and fairness.

In the face of social networks’ ubiquitous distribution of news that maybe false or true, traditional news outlets still have a key role to play in providing investigation and context into issues.

Solomon Mujuru, also known as Rex Nhongo (May 1, 1949 – August 16, 2011) was a Zimbabwean military officer and politician who led Robert Mugabe‘s guerrilla forces during the Rhodesian Bush War.

In post-independence Zimbabwe, he went on to become army chief before leaving government service in 1995. After leaving his post in the Zimbabwe National Army, he got into politics becoming Member of Parliament for Chikomba on a Zanu PF ticket. He was generally regarded as one of the most feared men in Zimbabwe. His wife, Joyce Mujuru, became Vice-President of Zimbabwe in 2004.