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  • Senate Elections Results & Index of articles

  • Senatorial elections
    Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe (MMPZ)
    Weekly Media Update 2005-38
    Monday October 3rd – Sunday October 9th 2005

    THE media’s 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.

    Although the 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.

    The media’s 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 amendment.

    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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