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Senate Elections Results & Index of articles
Monitoring Project Zimbabwe (MMPZ)
Weekly Media Update 2005-38
Monday October 3rd – Sunday October 9th 2005
watchdog role was tainted this week by their failure to thoroughly
analyse the electoral framework to be used for the Senatorial elections
scheduled for November 26th. For example, besides announcing
that only 50 out of the 66 seats in the Senate would be contested,
none of the media sought an explanation on the mechanics of establishing
provincial constituency boundaries for electoral purposes and how
this would affect voters. They did not seek clarity about the voters’
roll either, or inquire about the number of polling stations and
the role of observers for the elections.
Instead of seeking
answers to such issues, the media narrowed their coverage to divisions
within the parties arising from the elections. The Financial
Gazette (6/10), for example, revealed that while the MDC leadership
was divided over the party’s participation in the forthcoming polls,
fissures had also emerged within ZANU PF following the party’s decision
to abandon primary elections to choose its candidates.
Studio 7 (3,8
&9/10), SW Radio Africa (3, 4 & 7/10), The Standard
(9/10) and The Sunday Mirror (9/10) also carried reports
on the divisions, mainly in the MDC.
government media, as illustrated by ZTV (6/10, 8pm), quoted ZANU
PF Political Commissar, Elliot Manyika, spelling out the party’s
proposed candidates’ selection process, it suffocated discontent
on the matter.
preoccupation with the intra-party divisions and debates on the
impending poll resulted in them overlooking important details about
electoral procedure, which, in turn, is contributing to the public’s
already cynical impression of elections. This impression was not
helped by The Sunday News story (9/10) reporting that the
Electoral Supervisory Commission (ESC) would be in charge of the
elections despite its abolition under the 17th Constitutional
amendment, which also constituted the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission
(ZEC) as the sole election supervisory body.
While the paper
reported on this bizarre development, it did not fully explain that
the perpetuation of this unnecessary duplication was also a creation
of the amendment too. And although it quoted ESC chairman Theophilus
Gambe saying the commission would only "disband"
after the coming elections because the Constitutional amendment
provided that "there should not be an abrupt end to the
ESC", the paper made no effort to inquire why this
clearly irrational provision was specifically included in the constitutional
In another failure,
none of the media questioned the announcement by Local Government
Minister Ignatius Chombo that government intends to expand Harare’s
municipal boundaries by year-end to incorporate areas such as Norton,
Marondera, Mazowe and Beatrice, ostensibly to create more space
for housing. There was no detail about the amount of land currently
available to Harare municipality for housing development to justify
this move. Nor was there any investigation into the political effects
of incorporating such vast areas of rural settlement within Harare’s
electoral boundaries, which is certain to dilute the opposition’s
dominance in the city. The Daily Mirror (11/10) merely carried
the issue as an announcement and The Herald the day before,
only referred to this important news in the last sentence of its
story on the merging of rural and urban council associations.
The failure by the media to expose such pertinent issues allows
government to manipulate the electoral framework in a way that frustrates
the will of the people.
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