There was nothing wrong with Zimpapers’ appointment of Sunday Mail editor Edmund Kudzayi who is 28-years-old, Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo said yesterday.
Prof Moyo spoke as Kudzayi — who stands accused of attempting to subvert a constitutionally-elected Government and undermining the authority of the President — was granted US$5 200 bail coupled with stringent conditions by the High Court.
Kudzayi also faces an alternative charge of attempting to commit an act of insurgency, banditry, sabotage or terrorism.
The second charge is of publishing statements prejudicial to the State or alternatively undermining the authority of the President on the Baba Jukwa facebook account. He is also charged with keeping ammunition in an unsecured place.
Edmund was, however, still in custody last night amid reports that some procedures for his release were still to be completed.
A post was, however, made on the Baba Jukwa page which last had a post on June 22, the day Edmund was picked, implying that someone wanted the post to coincide with Edmund’s release.
Edmund’s brother Phillip, who is facing similar charges, remained in custody after Justice Joseph Musakwa deferred his bail hearing to today.
Justice Musakwa ordered the release of Edmund with the consent of the National Prosecuting Authority. He ordered him to surrender a password to the Baba Jukwa e-mail address email@example.com to the investigating officer Detective Assistant Commissioner Crispen Makedenge.
Edmund would be confined within a 40-kilometre radius of the Harare Main Post Office and whenever he wishes to travel beyond that, he has to seek permission from the court.
Justice Musakwa ordered Edmund to surrender his travel documents to the clerk of court and to report twice daily at Harare Central Police Station.
He should surrender title deeds to his parents’ property in Hillside, Harare. He was warned against interfering with witnesses and evidence while out on bail.
Chief Law officer Mr Tawanda Zvekare represented the NPA, while Mr Admire Rubaya of Rubaya and Chatambudza acted for Edmund.
Speaking before the parliamentary portifolio committee on Media, Information and Broadcasting Services, Prof Moyo said he was delighted by Zimpapers’ decision to appoint Edmund, saying he expected more youthful journalists and women to be appointed as editors of newspapers in the country.
He said there was need for a new approach in the media where female editors and young persons would be appointed to be at the helm of newspapers.
Prof Moyo was responding to Makonde MP Cde Kindness Paradza (Zanu-PF) who had asked him if he was not surprised that a 28 year-old “boy” was appointed as editor of a big newspaper like the Sunday Mail.
“My worry is when we see a 28 year old non-journalist who has no experience in manstream media, who has experience in social media being appointed as editor of a flagship in the coutry,” said Cde Paradza. “Was the Minister not surprised when this boy was employed.”
Prof Moyo said he was actually happy with the appointment.
“I hope we could have more (young editors). This country has a lot of young people who deserve to be given their chance just as I think there are a lot of female professionals who deserve their chance. If one of the media houses appoints a female editor, I would be happy and not surprised. If they employ young people, 25, 28, I will not be surprised by that very factor alone. We will have to take other factors into account,” he said.
In his bail statement, Edmund said his arrest was instigated by people in high authority who were afraid he could use his technological expertise to expose them for feeding the real Facebook character Baba Jukwa with sensitive information within Government and Zanu-PF.
Edmund denied that he was the shadowy Baba Jukwa and accused those behind his arrest of backstabbing him.
He said he had been working with the Ministry of Defence and the police as a consultant to expose Baba Jukwa and those behind the character, but was arrested after providing some information which he obtained using his technological know-how.
In the State’s response to Edmund’s bail application, Mr Zvekare noted the seriousness of the charges, but called for the need to strike a balance between the interests of justice and the suspect’s right to liberty.