South African Media Industry Lost A Champion in Hope Zinde

 On Saturday South African were shocked by the news Hope Zinde's tragic murder. According to police the 50 year old's body was found in the boot of a car. Latest reports reveal that she was murdered in her bathroom on Monday in her luxury Pecanwood Golf Estate house. 

The former news anchor and SABC board members body was apparently dragged from the house to her car. Her 28 year old son has been arrested and a parcel allegedly containing drugs was found in the bathroom.

Crime Line SA head and media personality Yusuf Abramjee tweeted: “Hope Zinde's son has been arrested in connection with her murder. Police have seized a quantity of drugs.”

In an industry that doesn't openly welcome dissent, Zinde was a champion for speaking out. She made headlines in 2005 when she was fired as an SABC board member, after which she claimed undue interference by the Minister of Communications, Fath Mathumbi. 

Zinde warned that the minister is diluting the independence and power of the SABC board. 

"Why are we on the board, to just rubber-stamp? I do not agree," she said of the situation relating to the workings of the SABC board. 

That was a bold stand to take for anyone in this industry. Considering that Zinde was a staunch supporter of the ANC and was heavily criticised for her alleged biased reporting during the Zimbabwe general elections in 2005, when she told viewers from Harare's Sheraton Hotel just a few hours after checking in that Zimbabwe is peaceful contrary to many Western media reports.

Her assertion that conditions in Zimbabwe were ok for free and fair elections in 2005 received widespread condemnation and the journalist was accused of being a mouth-piece for the government and trying to appease politicians. 

However, when she openly criticised an ANC minister and berated her for threatening the independence of the public broadcaster, Zinde stood head above a lot of people working for the parastatal. 

She opposed the sale of the SABC's archives to MultiChoice to start the SABC Encore library channel — a move that was a direct challenge to her colleagues and put her at odds with the ministry. Many would not have dared.

It was her opposition to the permanent appointment of Hlaudi Motsoeneng as chief operating officer (COO) of the SABC, that redeemed her in the eyes of many within the industry. At a time when those in the ranks of the ANC and SABC would not be drawn to publicly express any contention with the decision made by the party, she put herself and career on the line. 

For her tenacity and boldness to challenge the chorus of blind obedience, Zinde will be remembered as a champion. Hers will be a life and career that will be remembered as having been at the forefront of the movement to separate politics from the mandate for the public broadcaster to serve the people and not political interests. 

At the time of her murder Hope Zinde was an executive manager at the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa).

It is not an easy thing to do in this country to be vocal about your thoughts when they do not fit into the narrative set by the suits in this industry. For many, their honest opinions and disagreements with decisions made by the ruling party and the public broadcaster are reserved for private dinner table conversations.

As someone who personally believe that honest discussions and debates about the industry are an essential component of growing the business, I admire anyone who can go against the fray and speak their mind — especially when it is done at the risk of reprisals. We need people like the late Hope Zinde, for without anyone in positions of power to speak out, we are doomed to be an industry that is just complacent.

We need champions... black champions!

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