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  • Zimbabwe state media no.1 on hate speech – report
    Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition
    August 27, 2013

    View this article on the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition website

    Zimbabwe’s state-controlled media is the leading propagator of hate speech, a trend which was more pronounced one month before the July 31 harmonised elections, according to a research done by a media monitoring non-governmental organization.

    The Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe (MMPZ) released a report in which it proved through diligent monitoring of the country’s print and broadcast news that the state media had churned the most hate speech in June 2013, showing an unmitigated trend that the MMPZ unearthed since its inception in 1999.

    “Previous research by the Media Monitoring Project has established that hate language is endemic to the Zimbabwean mainstream media, particularly the state-controlled arm of these media,” the non-governmental organisation said in the report titled, Hate Speech and the Media (June 2013).

    The research which revealed that the state controlled The Herald newspaper recorded 38% in “counts of messages of hatred and intolerance” along the national television station, ZTV, whereas former Tsholotsho legislator and Zanu-PF member, Prof. Jonathan Moyo was found to be the leading hate preacher through his opinion pieces.

    The report revealed that hate speech in the private daily newspaper Daily News had gone down by 57% between May and June.

    Ironically, Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) chief executive officer Tafataona Mahoso was a notable perpetrator of hate speech during the month of June on the ZTV Current Affairs programme African Pride.

    Hate speech is prohibited in Section 61 subsection 5 (a-d) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act and section 16 F of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Act.

    The Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act outlaws “criminal insult”, which “seriously impairs the dignity of another person” while the Constitution of Zimbabwe restricts freedom of expression when it is likely to result in “advocacy of hatred or hate speech…or malicious or unwarranted breach of a person’s right to privacy”.

    Outgoing Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party were the main hate speech targets, followed closely in the line of attack by South Africa’s Lindiwe Zulu, international relations adviser to South African President Jacob Zuma and by Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs).

    “Only The Herald was responsible for spreading hate messages in its editorial comments.

    “Prime Minister Tsvangirai and his MDC-T party were the most targeted group in the government media.

    “Other targets of the language of hate were non-governmental organisations and other political parties, all contained in the State-run media.

    “Other victims were members of the international community critical of Zanu-PF.

    “These included South African President’s international relations adviser, Lindiwe Zulu, who is also a member of Zuma’s facilitation team in the Zimbabwe political dialogue acting on behalf of SADC,” the report says.

    The methods of hate speech included dehumanizing metaphors, insulting, false and divisive language, flawed argumentation and falsehoods, which were peddled through print media opinion pieces and the ZTV Current Affairs program African Pride.

    The four methods of hate speech identified in the MMPZ report follow a categorization borrowed from a study into hate speech on American commercial radio by Noriega and Iribarren in 2009 plus a fifth category identified by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration of America in 1993 as speech advocating violence.

    African Union (AU) and Southern African Development Community (SADC) electoral observers who were recently in the country noted in their preliminary reports that the state media was biased towards Zanu-PF during the July 31 elections, reinforcing the findings of the MMPZ report.

    At a Bulawayo conference organized by Crisis in Zimbabwe (CiZC) in June 2013, 83 Zimbabwean non-governmental organisations endorsed the Feya Feya campaign one of whose objectives has been to demand “fair and equal chance to be covered in the public media” for all political parties and citizens.

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