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  • Eye on ZBC – March 2013
    The Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe
    April 26, 2013

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    Zim’s economic woes grab the headlines

    Reports on the poor state of Zimbabwe’s economy and efforts being made to turn the situation around received significant attention on the national broadcaster, ZBC, in the month.

    Among the indicators of economic stress were reports of labour unrest in the civil service and parastatals; increase in the cost of fuel, which also triggered other hikes across other sectors of the economy; poor performance of state enterprises, and cash-flow problems at some tobacco auction floors in Harare. Although ZBC gave widespread coverage to Zimbabwe’s economic ills, it did not holistically address the causes of this poor state or provide practical solutions to address the situation.

    Debate on the matter was restricted to promoting the Zanu-PF arm of government’s sentiment blaming ‘illegal’ Western sanctions for the economic tailspin, while touting the party’s crafted policies such as the controversial black empowerment programme and the Look East policy as the antidote to the problem.

    For example, while the national broadcaster presented the indigenization programme as a panacea for economic growth, it did not balance this with concerns by various stakeholders about the way the programme is being implemented, which they feel discourages investor confidence.

    In one report, ZTV (4/3, 8pm) simply reported “economic activists” commending Mugabe for insisting that Zimbabweans should form consortiums to wholly control the economy.

    Among the activists were Zanu-PF Director in the Department of Indigenisation and Empowerment Kurai Masenyama and Upfumi Kuvadiki Communications Manager Privilege Gwiba, who were reported saying the empowerment drive “is just the first step towards achieving 100% shareholding by indigenous Zimbabweans in blue-chip companies”.

    This followed Mugabe’s appeal for “indigenous people” to organize themselves into groups and form companies to participate fully in the mainstream economy (ZTV, 4/3, 8pm).

    He made this call while speaking at the 21st February Movement celebrations in Bindura on March 2nd. The President reiterated that he wanted to see Zimbabweans being owners of the means of production than being mere workers.

    In another, ZTV (9/3, 8pm) reported Indigenisation Minister Saviour Kasukuwere repeating his threats that “no bank will be spared under the indigenization programme”.

    ZBC’s coverage of the cost of living and its effects on ordinary Zimbabweans was more considered. It blamed the rise in the cost of public transport and other goods and services on the recent fuel hike by government, reportedly effected as a way of raising money for forthcoming harmonized elections (ZBC, 11/3, 8pm).

    The national broadcaster, for example, carried critical reports on the way public transport operators had allegedly taken advantage of the increase in the price of fuel to fleece the commuting public.

    In one of the reports, ZTV (29/3, 8pm) reported rural and urban commuters appealing to government to “stop the wanton increase of fares by unscrupulous bus operators”, with rural commuters accusing transport operators of hiking fares just before the Easter holidays “to capitalize on desperate travelers”.

    The travelers appealed to the relevant authorities to “come to their rescue and put in place measures to curb the exorbitant fare increases which further erode their meagre incomes” (ZTV, 29/3, 8pm).

    One of the travelers was quoted: “We are having transport problems because they have hiked fares. Some have trebled and we do not have such kind of money. We are saying government should look into the issue and even bring back ZUPCO buses”.

    The fares were reported to have doubled, with buses travelling to Gutu charging $20 up from $8, Bulawayo buses charging between $15 and $20, while those plying the Murehwa route had increased the fare from $3 to $8.

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