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situation has its root in AIPPA: Media botch link
Project Zimbabwe (MMPZ)
Extracted of the Weekly Media Update
Monday February 23rd - Sunday February
ruin of the Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ), publishers
of The Daily News and its sister weekly, The Daily News on Sunday,
attracted considerable media attention. This followed the ANZ's
announcement that it was cutting its workforce by 80 percent saying
it would be unable to sustain its salary bill if it were to meet
its workers' demands of a 960 percent salary hike. Notable however,
was the narrow perspective in which the media, especially the government
controlled media and The Daily Mirror, interpreted the unfolding
events at the troubled publishing house. They failed to relate the
ANZ's massive retrenchment to the adverse ramifications of the repressive
Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), which
has since ensured that the ANZ's two papers remain silenced. Their
superficial coverage of the matter also resulted in them twisting
the facts by alleging that the ANZ problems were self-inflicted.
To support this claim they accused management, particularly ANZ
chief executive officer Sam Sipepa Nkomo, of being insensitive to
the workers' plight by allegedly refusing to register the ANZ with
the government appointed Media and Information Commission (MIC)
as required under AIPPA.
Amid this distortion,
the objectives behind government's enactment of AIPPA were totally
lost: mainly to put journalists on a government leash and police
The Daily Mirror
and government media's glossing over of the real problems besetting
the ANZ was epitomised by ZTV (23/2, 8pm). It blamed Nkomo for the
publishing house's troubles, adding that the developments at the
ANZ confirmed "rumours that Nkomo was put at the helm of the
organization to bring it down".
was provided to support these claims.
Power FM and
Radio Zimbabwe (24/2, 6am) carried similar reports. And like ZTV,
their accounts did not link ANZ's decision to retrench to the hostile
political environment it was operating in.
Daily Mirror, The Herald and Chronicle (24/2) ignored this aspect.
They simply dismissed ANZ's cost-saving measure by pointing out
that the company's majority shareholder, Strive Masiyiwa, had promised
to pay the workers for the next two years even if the company was
not publishing. They thus viewed the retrenchment as a cover-up
for management's machinations to close down ANZ.
perspective of the matter saw The Daily Mirror carry a story under
a untruthful headline; Nkomo shuts Daily News. However, Studio 7
(23/2) provided a fresh angle to the matter. It quoted an ANZ administrator
saying the staff cuts were a result of the company losing close
to $15 million dollars a day in revenue ever since it was forced
to stop publishing its titles. Nkomo echoed the same sentiments
on Studio 7 (24/2) adding that the workers' demands for a substantial
increment "at a time . we are not operational." were the
But The Daily
Mirror comment (25/2), ANZ management betrayed workers, continued
with its simplistic attack on Nkomo and his managerial team. It
observed that "with the sky-rocketing inflation and the. bad
patch the economy is going through, it was obvious that workers
would require salary hikes now and then", adding that the money
Masiyiwa promised staff "could not be from sales or advertisements
generated" by ANZ "because the assumption was that they
would not be operating."
ZTV (23/2, pm) did quote Nkomo as saying Masiyiwa's promises to
pay workers for two years even if the company was not operational
was based on the assumption that there would be "no demands
for unreasonable increases in salaries".
did not calm The Daily Mirror whose comment continued to accuse
management of being the "architect of the current mess at the
stable" because "they decided not to register in accordance
with the laws of the country".
were carried in The Sunday News (29/2). But both papers still distracted
their readers on how government, via the draconian AIPPA, had literally
hounded the ANZ off Zimbabwe's media landscape.
This was only
explored by SW Radio Africa (24/2), which traced ANZ's downfall
to 2002 when government promulgated AIPPA. The private radio station
quoted legal analysts as saying "it (AIPPA) was enacted with
one object in mind; to close the Daily News".
linking the collapse of the ANZ to AIPPA, the station also reminded
its audiences about how government regularly terrorised ANZ staff
since the publishing house began operations in 1999. This persecution
also coincided with the bombing of the ANZ's printing press by yet-to-be-arrested
The Press and
ZBC ignored this background.
any newspaper came to reporting it was when The Sunday Mirror (29/2)
quoted one of the ANZ workers as having said "in as much as
Information and Publicity Minister.was the force behind the stable's
fate, Nkomo was the 'conspirator from within'".
Gazette merely added a conspiracy theory to the tragedy. The paper
quoted some unnamed ANZ workers as having said Nkomo's decision
to lay off workers was meant to "coerce donors into throwing
a lifeline to the faltering group".
(28/2) echoed this unsubstantiated claim. It quoted an unnamed ANZ
worker saying, "They (management) have climbed onto the bandwagon
of pro-opposition civic groups who are exploiting the West's fixation
with Zimbabwe to extract donations".
while The Daily Mirror and the government-controlled media appeared
oblivious to the havoc wreaked on the ANZ by AIPPA, journalists
in South Africa did.
Studio 7 (23/2)
reported that SA's Justice Minister, Penuela Maduna, had "shocked
and angered" people at a Pretoria seminar on freedom of expression
when he said that he "saw nothing wrong" with registering
The report duly
noted Maduna's apparent out-of-touch statements in relation to the
ANZ saga and quoted SA media practitioners pointing out that government's
registration of journalists with a view to policing them, as is
the case in Zimbabwe, was incompatible with Press freedom.
SW Radio Africa
(26/2) reported South Africa's Deputy President Jacob Zuma as expressing
his government's wish to see the Zimbabwean Press enjoying the same
freedom as that of SA. But any hope that government would respond
to calls for it to relax its media laws were shattered when SW Radio
Africa (27/2) revealed that the UN had failed to get a government
response to freedom of expression abuse charges laid against it
by several local and international human rights groups.
government's enthusiasm to use AIPPA against the private media,
through its hand-picked MIC, was again demonstrated when The Herald
(24/2) reported that MIC chairman Tafataona Mahoso had "filed
a complaint with the police" over a Standard article, which
claimed that High Court judge Justice Sandra Mungwira had fled the
country to Britain.
that the paper's editors and writers of the story should be charged
with criminal defamation and abuse of journalistic privilege because
the report had "criminally defamed" Justice Mungwira,
the government and the entire judiciary.
But as the Zimbabwe
Independent reported, Mahoso is seemingly unaware of the Supreme
Court's nullification of "abuse of journalistic privilege"
when it invalidated Section 80 (1), (a) and (c) of AIPPA, a law
he is supposed to administer.
is the fact that Mahoso has remained apparently silent on the violations
of the basic tenets of journalism by the government media.
In fact, MIC's
partiality and its over-arching role was clearly illustrated when
it interfered in a labour dispute in defence of The Herald's decision
to dismiss three of its senior journalists accused of freelancing
for Voice of America, (The Herald, Chronicle, The Financial Gazette,
26/2 and The Daily Mirror, 27/2). The MIC castigated ZUJ, which
it described as a "morally corrupt association", for condemning
the dismissal of their colleagues.
the dismissed journalists risked "national interest and national
security" because the Voice of America is a "propaganda
tool" and "an arm of the US State Department, which is
on record as seeking to overthrow the government of Zimbabwe through
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