INFORMATION Minister Jonathan Moyo said Thursday he hoped more 28-year-olds would be appointed to head the country's leading media organisations after a Zanu PF legislator challenged Edmund Kudzayi's take over as Sunday Mail editor.
Kudzayi, bailed at the High Court this week on charges of attempting to subvert a constitutionally-elected government and undermining the President's authority, was named editor of the country's best-selling newspaper in April.
The surprise appointment is believed to have disconcerted many in Zanu PF with President Robert Mugabe - no less - publicly excoriating Moyo for allegedly hounding out editors considered party loyalists and replacing them individuals previously critical of his rule.
On Thursday, Zanu PF Makonde MP and former journalist, Kindness Paradza, asked Moyo about Kudzayi's appointment as the minister addressed Parliament's committee on Media, Information and Broadcasting Services.
Said Paradza: "Through you Mr chairman l know that this is a matter that is still within the courts and l must add that the Herald, the Sunday Mail are now papers of record in this country and l am happy about that because of the way they are reporting on issues.
"However my worry is when we see a 28 year old who is a non-journalist who has no experience whatsoever in mainstream media, who has experience in social media being appointed as editor of Sunday Mail which is a flagship in this country."
Committee chairman, William Dhewa, said the minister did not have to answer the question since there was a related case before the courts.
But Paradza insisted, saying: "It's in the courts but was the minister surprised when this boy was employed, thank you".
Responding, Moyo said: "Honourable Paradza's last question was whether l was surprised that a 28 year old was employed. No, l was actually happy l hope we can have more.
"This country has a lot of young people who deserve to be given their chance just as l think there are a lot of female professionals who deserve their chance.
"If one of the media houses appoints a female editor, l will be very happy and not surprised. If they employ young people, 25, 28, l will not be surprised by that very fact alone.
"We will have to take other factors into account but as the chair guided us, we can't get into matters that are before the courts."
Kudzayi was arrested last month and accused of being behind the Facebook character Baba Jukwa which scandalised Zanu PF and party leaders, including Mugabe, ahead of last year's elections. His brother Phillip is also in custody on similar charges.
In his bail application, Kudzayi denied the allegations saying he was being victimised by politicians overly eager to please Mugabe after his rant against editorial appointments in State-run media organisations.
"These allegations are not only laughable, but a clear abuse of the criminal justice system by those in the corridors of power who are afraid that I can use my technological expertise to expose those who actually supplied the real Baba Jukwa with blow-by-blow details of sensitive meetings within Zanu PF and the Zimbabwean Government and also the people behind it," Edmund said.
"This is clearly a trial and error by the State in seeking to resolve the Baba Jukwa mystery. The State is just stabbing in the dark hoping along the way as they arrest innocent people like (me) and victimising the same, they would get the real Baba Jukwa. This is a clear lie. I am not Baba Jukwa at all."