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Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles
Crisis Report - Issue 218
in Zimbabwe Coalition
September 05, 2013
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must be non-partisan and professional, say media stakeholders
emerges from the political tussle
of the July 31 election, public concerns linger that the state
media overtly fought in the electoral corner of the Zimbabwe African
National Union Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF) in violation of national
laws and tax payers’ expectations, which has scaled up the
volume on calls for public media reforms.
the public has expressed the need for reportage by the state media
to be more inclusive of other parties, or highlight public criticism
of the ruling party where it is war-ranted in the future.
A report of
the Media Monitoring
Project of Zimbabwe (MMPZ) of July 2013 did not mince its words
in asserting that the state media houses, Zimpapers and Zimbabwe
Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) had been biased towards Zanu-PF,
while denigrating its opponents such as the Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC-T) during the recent elections.
state media fulfilled its role as the propaganda arm of Zanu-PF
by giving widespread and favourable publicity to the party’s
campaign activities at the expense of other parties in violation
of domestic and international regulations governing the media’s
coverage of elections,” the MMPZ Election Watch
Issue No. 20/2013 read.
During the elections
64% of stories in the State run media were on Zanu-PF, while 29%
were on the main opposition MDC-T, the report revealed. Of the 278
stories in which the State-run media reported on Zanu-PF, 91 % were
positive with the rest being neutral and by comparison, of the 126
stories on the MDC-T, 89% were negative with the rest being neutral,
the report revealed.
But at the Media
Alliance of Zimbabwe (MAZ) Annual Conference of Media Stakeholders
held in Harare on September 5, Gabriel Chaibva, who desperately
emphasized that he is a non-aligned political analyst, spoke glowingly
of the state media arguing:
don’t lie. They just spin and that is acceptable.”
a political analyst and writer, said he had been airing his opinion
on radio for 10 years, but it appeared that the state media would
not invite his ilk to be on air because of his perceived allegiance
to the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
an opportunity to express ourselves in the public media because
the public media is not owned by Zanu-PF, it is owned by the people
of Zimbabwe. So we also want an opportunity to sit down with Mupepereki
and Chivaura (ZTV social commentators) and explain to them that
the MDC was formed by Zimbabweans for Zimbabweans,” he said.
Masunungure, a researcher and Political Science lecturer at the
Zimbabwe (UZ), however, noted that the state media was taking
sides and he roped in the private media as being similarly biased
before recommending that the media should shun partisan politics
and abide by the ethical dictates of its profession.
of the media has been its embeddedness in partisan politics,”
suggested that the situation of a media viewed with suspicion by
the public could be salvaged only through a change of editorial
assert that the role of the media is critical in a society with
one party hegemony. With the opposition on its knees, the media
both state and private need to stand up to fill the gap,”
While the private
media has been faced with the equal accusation of political bias,
it is a commercial sector unlike the state media which is funded
by the taxpayers and for which the new Constitution and international
policies require non-partisanship as the norm.
African Development Community Observer Mission (SEOM), which released
its final report
on the July 31 harmonized election on September 3 admitted that
there was bias in the State media and recommended that there should
be a departure from the malpractice.
and former Constitutional Parliamentary Select Committee (COPAC)
co-chairperson Douglas Mwonzora, who spoke at the MAZ Conference
pointed to provisions in the new Constitution,
which seek to guard against state media bias going into the future.
goes on to say the state media must be impartial and it must afford
fair opportunity to divergent views and dissenting opinions,”
commentators at the MAZ conference said these constitutional provisions
and statutes that are available could only make a difference if
they start being implemented.
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