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Zimbabwe Union of Journalists in Renewed Turmoil

The perennially-volatile Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) has been thrown into renewed turmoil with some members threatening litigation if the union does not call its Congress by June 30.

Lawyers representing journalists Blessed Mhlanga, Moses Matenga, Frank Chikowore, Pindai Dube and Nqobani Ndlovu have written to ZUJ accusing its leadership of violating the union’s Constitution by failing to convene Congress last month.

The journalists, through their lawyers from the Gonese Attorneys law firm, described the move as “shameful and regrettable.”

"Such conduct demonstrates the highest level of hypocrisy in an esteemed organization such as yourself, which laments constantly about the need to adhere strictly to the rule of law," the journalists said.

"Your failure to adhere to your own Constitution is indeed unacceptable, shameful and regrettable... [You] should ensure that Congress is held on or before the 30th of June, 2013, failure to which we shall not hesitate to take legal action."

The journalists argue that the union’s office bearers are acting illegally since their mandate has not been renewed by Congress.

One of the reporters Blessed Mhlanga, a member of the union’s national executive, told VOA that journalists should practice the accountability that they demand of politicians.

"It is unfortunate that as journalists we have been calling on our government, on our civil society to adhere to their constitution when we fail deliberately or mischievously to adhere to our own constitution which is clear, which is black and white," Mhlanga said.

But ZUJ secretary-general Foster Dongozi dismissed the litigation threats, calling the journalists "renegades" who are being used by employers to destabilize the union.

"They are renegades who are fronting for employers and other interest groups that we cannot reveal now," Dongozi said. "It is not the first time, for example, that efforts have been made to weaken the union."

Bickering in ZUJ is nothing new. Its successive administrations have been dogged by nasty squabbles, including the most recent executive led by Mathew Takaona.