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and the information gap
Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe (MMPZ)
Extracted from Weekly Media Update 2007-15
Monday April 16th 2007 - Sunday April 22nd 2007
THIS week the government papers focussed on promoting unsubstantiated
conspiracies that projected the authorities as victims of the West's
machinations to 'illegally' replace them with a puppet
government. For example, they carried 28 stories, which simply criminalised
basic freedoms of expression such as criticism of government misrule
and calls for regime change by the West and local civic and religious
(16/4) and The Herald (17/4), for example, passively reported
ZANU PF chairman John Nkomo accusing Britain and the US of "creating
an unAfrican culture" by giving money to NGOs to "create
disturbances in the country" without challenging
him to provide evidence or explain the 'unAfrican' nature
of the funding. Instead, the Chronicle merely reported Information
Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu justifying government's decision
to deregister local NGOs on the basis of a recent US report revealing
that it was working with opposition and civic groups to promote
democracy in the country as evidence of Western machinations to
effect 'illegal' regime change.
It was in this
light, Ndlovu said, that the authorities were severing ties with
the State University of New York (Suny) (which was funding parliamentary
reform programmes under USAid) because government wanted "to
tighten screws on clandestine political activities involving NGOs,
which are meddling in the politics of Zimbabwe".
went unverified. Neither were the exact details of the report or
the context in which it was released given.
papers carried 13 editorials and opinion pieces that simply amplified
official allegations of conspiracies by the West and NGOs, whose
criticism of government's policy shortcomings were presented
as unwarranted. Examples were The Herald articles; US agenda
against Zim exposed (16/4); Land behind West's hate campaign
(17/4) and Racism behind Britain's anti-Zimbabwe campaign
papers' lopsided coverage of the subject was mirrored by their
sourcing pattern. Almost all those quoted basically blamed the alleged
conspiracies as being responsible for the country's problems.
1 Voice distribution in the government Press
Press ignored the conspiracy theories and carried 44 stories that
exposed the illegal nature of some of the government's policy
pronouncements; the continued crackdown on the opposition; the ZANU
PF succession debate; updates on SA President Thabo Mbeki's
mediation efforts and the expansion of the European Union's
targeted sanctions list.
the Zimbabwe Independent (21/4) quoted NGOs' representative
dismissing government's cancellation of NGOs' operating
licences as "unconstitutional and illegal".
The move, NANGO noted, was in violation of Section 10 of the Private
and Voluntary Organisations Act, which stipulates that a "ministerial
board" can only "cancel registration"
after "statutory procedures have
been fulfilled". And contrary to the notion
created by the official media, the Independent and The
Financial Gazette (20/4) viewed government's decision
to terminate its relationship with Suny as aimed at weakening the
Parliamentary Portfolio Committees, which were "becoming
too critical of government policies."
The private electronic
media also carried several stories highlighting the same issues.
formed part of the 41 stories (private papers  and the private
electronic media ) carried on human rights abuses perpetrated
by security agents against MDC and Women
of Zimbabwe Arise activists. The abuses included arrests, abductions,
beatings and torture.
In fact, it
was against the deteriorating human rights situation that the EU
announced the addition of five more ministers to its targeted sanctions
list (Studio 7 19/4, New Zimbabwe 20/4, the Gazette and
Independent). The government papers ignored this development,
preferring to present a misleading notion that the EU was relaxing
its tough stance on Zimbabwe, while ZBC ignored the issues altogether.
papers' wide coverage of the country's political developments
was reflected by their diverse sourcing pattern as shown in Fig
2 Voice distribution in the private Press
the MMPZ fact
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