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and Electronic Daily Media Update #6
Print Media Update No 6. March 28, 2005
MMPZ was unable to obtain a copy of The Chronicle in time to include
its content in this report.
TODAY'S Herald continued its partisan coverage of political parties'
campaigns by reporting only on ZANU PF activities while ignoring
those of the main opposition MDC, smaller opposition parties and
independent candidates. This resulted in the paper even ignoring
a major MDC rally held at the Zimbabwe Grounds in Highfield yesterday,
whose attendance many observers estimated at around 20,000.
out of the seven campaign-related stories the paper carried, five
were on the ruling party rallies and the rest were public relations
stories passively endorsing ZANU PF's rule. An example of The Herald's
failure to fulfil its basic journalistic duties appeared in its
story about the unveiling of a housing scheme at Nel Farm in Norton
by ZANU PF candidate for Manyame Patrick Zhuwawo. Instead of questioning
the timing and motive behind this event, the paper led with a Press
conference story in which ZANU PF Secretary for Information Dr Nathan
Shamuyarira dismissed Archbishop Pius Ncube's claims, contained
in a news report by London-based Sky News, that government was deliberately
starving opposition supporters in Matabeleland to force them to
vote for the ruling party. Ncube, whom Shamuyarira described as
"a mad, inveterate liar" was never given the right of reply. Nor
were the authors of the report. In fact, the details of the Sky
News report were never given.
unprofessional conduct was equally reflected by its blatant disregard
for balance and fairness when sourcing for comments in its campaign
stories, as shown in Fig 1.
Fig 1 Voice
distribution in The Herald
While The Daily
Mirror also failed to balance Shamuyarira's accusations with details
from Sky News or comments from Archbishop Ncube, it ran a side story
in which it reported MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai calling on government
to "relax its crackdown on NGOs, through the NGO Bill, to resume
full-scale food distribution to lessen the impact of a looming drought".
Otherwise, the paper gave a balanced presentation of the campaigns
of ZANU PF and the MDC although it carried none on the activities
of the other contesting parties and independents.
The paper carried
nine campaign related stories, five of which were on ZANU PF, three
on the MDC and the other was a general opinion article focusing
on how various candidates that have since been featured on ZTV have
fared. The ZANU PF stories comprised three rallies and a statement
defending the party's policies.
The three MDC
stories were made up of five rallies the MDC held in Mabvuku
(three) and an unspecified one. Because of the paper's failure to
explain where the rally took place, MMPZ was unable to ascertain
whether it was the one the opposition party held in Highfield yesterday.
A direct reference
to the MDC rally was only made in the paper's comment, but only
in the context of buttressing the theme that the run-up to the election
has been peaceful. The paper merely noted: "MDC supporters going
to a rally addressed by Morgan Tsvangirai at Zimbabwe Grounds and
a host of ZANU PF supporters in party regalia came face to face,
but none chided the other for being in the opposite camp." This
notwithstanding, the paper made a fair attempt in sourcing its voices
by citing ZANU PF 14 times and the MDC nine times in its stories,
all clearly enunciating their party's policies.
None of the
media carried news that police had arrested 150 MDC supporters after
the Highfield rally for behaviour likely to cause a breach of the
peace and that about 70 of them had been detained. International
reports noted that the remainder had paid admission of guilt fines
and had been released.
b) Administrative Issues
THE Herald carried two stories on administrative issues, which superficially
depicted the electoral environment as favourable. One of them merely
reported on the SADC observer team leader Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka
commending Zimbabweans for the peaceful environment ahead of the
elections after a meeting with President Mugabe.
The second story, a comment in the paper, hailed the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission's "new poll measures as laudable" and "best organised"
in Zimbabwe's 25 years of "democracy". The critique however narrowly
the positive while ignoring several electoral concerns raised on
the matter by various stakeholders. The Daily Mirror did not carry
any stories on the electoral framework.
c) Political Violence
THE Herald did not carry any stories on politically motivated violence
or rights abuses today. But the privately owned Daily Mirror did.
It carried two stories on the topic and recorded one incident of
rights abuse by the police. The alleged incident stemmed from claims
by outgoing ZANU PF Kadoma West MP Paul Mangwana that riot police
had brutalised villagers in the constituency for backing him during
the ZANU PF primaries, which he lost to Brighton Matonga.
paper quoted Matonga and police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena as
denying any knowledge of the matter, an unnamed Kadoma-based policeman
was recorded in the same story confirming the beatings. However,
he denied there was a political motive to the beatings, saying those
assaulted by the police were illegal gold panners. Said the police
detail: "According to the information I have, there were some gold
panners arrested by the police. However, gold panners usually resist
arrest resulting in the police applying minimum force." The remaining
story by the paper was an editorial reiterating the peace prevailing
in the country and commending the police for a job well done.
Daily Update: March 27th 2005
five-minute long repeats of manifestos by independent candidates
Silas Mangono (Masvingo Central) and Charles Mpofu (Bulawayo South).
four days before polling, ZBH continued to give more space to ZANU
PF in its news bulletins. For example, 14 (74%) out of 19 reports
ZTV carried in its 6pm and 8pm bulletins were on ZANU PF, while
four (21%) were on the MDC and one (5%) on independent candidate
for St Mary's Tendai Maswata. Two of the four stories on the MDC
were belated reports on the party's rally in Bulawayo, which was
held the previous day.
Even then, the
broadcaster suffocated attendance figures and used close-up shots
of the party's leadership addressing the rally without giving a
full view to indicate the size of the crowd in its footage. The
other two were on a rally addressed by the party's candidate for
Zengeza. There was still no report on another main rally the opposition
held in Gweru. So biased was ZTV that it chose to cover a small
ZANU PF rally in Highfield and ignored the MDC's star rally in the
same area attended by thousands of opposition supporters. Its pro-ZANU
PF stance was reflected in the time the station allocated to different
parties in its 6pm and 8pm bulletins. For example, 72% of the 29
minutes ZTV devoted to campaigns were on ZANU PF campaign activities
while six minutes (21%) were allocated to the MDC rallies. The remaining
two minutes were devoted to independent candidate Maswata.
and Power FM were no different. Eight of their 10 campaign stories
were on ZANU PF, while the remaining two were on the MDC. The two
stories on the MDC merely mentioned in passing that the party held
rallies in Highfield and Bindura without giving details. Apart from
giving more space to ZANU PF in its bulletins, ZTV also gave Lands
Minister John Nkomo a platform through its one hour-long current
affairs programme, Talking Farming, to justify and sell to the electorate
his party's land reforms. The programme usually features agricultural
experts to discuss various farming issues.
Studio 7 carried two detailed campaign stories on the MDC. One was
on the party's Highfield rally and an interview with MDC candidate
for Chimanimani Heather Bennett on her campaigns in the constituency.
The station only mentioned in passing two ZANU PF campaigns in Rushinga
Fig 1. Campaign stories on ZBH stations and Studio 7
ZBH carried 14 reports on administrative issues, all of which
appeared on Power FM and Radio Zimbabwe. The reports were merely
announcements on the arrival of African Union observers, the deployment
of police to various provinces in the country and updates on the
training of polling officers by the Electoral Supervisory Commission.
The stations simply restricted themselves to such announcements
without asking pertinent questions. For instance, they failed to
question who the polling officers were nor explained how many will
be present at each polling station. ZTV and Studio 7 steered clear
of these issues.
THERE were no reports on incidents of political violence on ZBH.
The broadcaster only carried two reports on the police's efforts
to maintain peace and ensure a violence-free poll.
Studio 7 carried a report in which Heather Bennett alleged that
ZANU-PF was using food to campaign in Chimanimani. However, ZANU
PF secretary for information Nathan Shamuyarira was quoted on ZTV
denying such allegations.
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