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  • Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles

  • Eye on ZBC – June 2013
    The Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe
    July 10, 2013

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    ZBC glosses over problems in ZANU PF primaries

    The national broadcaster (ZBC)’s mandate as a public broadcaster came into question again this month over the grossly partisan manner in which it covered the activities of Zimbabwe’s main parties.

    ZBC’s coverage of the recent primary elections by the country’s top two political parties was severely biased against the MDC-T, while the station gave widespread, favourable publicity to its rival ZANU PF.

    This was reflected in the 51 stories the national broadcaster carried on the party activities of the coalition parties in the month. Of these, 32 appeared on the sole national television station, ZTV. The remaining 19 appeared on the national radio station, Spot FM.

    Forty of the 51 stories were on ZANU PF’s primary elections, while the remaining 11 were on those of the MDC-T.

    Notably, all the 11 reports on the MDC-T were negative. The stories were on alleged infighting and intra-party violence, as well as claims of candidate imposition, lack of transparency and democracy, and chaos in the selection of candidates in the party.

    Seven of these 11 reports were on intra-party violence in the MDC-T. In one such case, ZTV (14/6, 8pm) reported the alleged petrol bombing of a home belonging to MDC-T activist Ernest Banda in Highfield, Harare, on June 14th, in “a suspected case of intra-party violence ahead of the party’s primary elections” on June 15th. The station reported National Police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba confirming the case and indicating that initial investigations were pointing to a case of intra-party violence.

    Earlier, ZTV (6/6, 8pm) carried “more reports” of MDC-T intra party violence. These included a “wrangle” between aspiring MDC-T MP candidates Ezra Sibanda and Mark Moyo. The broadcaster quoted Charamba confirming the case, saying the “assault” occurred at Makepesi Business Centre in Lower Gweru where Joblin Moyo attacked a female MDC-T member Modrick Gwainda, accusing her of supporting Sibanda.

    Another ZTV story (26/6, 8pm) reported the arrest of three MDC-T supporters for “public violence” in Manicaland. The three, Patrick Sagandira, Lovemore Chifomboti and Moses Ndowa, allegedly assaulted supporters of aspiring MDC-T National Assembly member for Makoni Central, Grace Kwinje. In contrast, ZBC’s coverage of ZANU PF’s primary elections was lauded as having run smoothly, with aspiring candidates and their supporters in the “revolutionary” party upholding “discipline” and “loyalty” to ZANU PF and its leadership (ZBC, 2, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 21, 25, 26, 27/6, 8pm). The station reported ZANU PF candidates as having heeded to calls for peace from their leadership, while the conduct of primary elections itself was resoundingly “successful”, “smooth”, and “violent free”.

    Notably, ZBC made no reference to reports of chaos, violence, and protests by some aspiring ZANU PF candidates and their supporters against favouritism, the imposition of candidates, and alleged manipulation and rigging of the votes as reported elsewhere in the private media during the same period.

    Among the reported victims of the ZANU PF intra-party fighting were Mashonaland Central Governor Martin Dinha, who is said to have withdrawn from Bindura South primaries because of an alleged attempt on his life; Henrietta Rushwaya due to alleged threats from Shuvai Mahofa; and Esau Mupfumi, under unclear circumstances. The private media also reported on the controversial disqualification of some ZANU candidates such as Sharon Mugabe, and Marian Chombo, allegedly at the behest of her former husband Ignatius Chombo.

    Reportedly, some of these problems resulted in some aspiring ZANU PF candidates and their supporters lodging appeals and staging demonstrations at their party’s provincial and national headquarters, while others such as Marian Chombo threatened to stand as independents in the upcoming elections if their grievances were not dealt with.

    ZBC also censored reports that the actual voting in the ZANU PF primaries was fraught with irregularities.

    For instance, the station made no reference to reports that ZANU PF’s voters’ roll was ditched in some constituencies, allowing anyone with an ID to vote (SW Radio Africa, 26 & 27/6).

    ZBC also downplayed ZANU PF’s failure to conduct its primary elections in one day as planned, due to serious logistical challenges, which included the late arrival of ballot papers and boxes in some areas, resulting in voting starting as late as 4pm (SW Radio Africa, 25/6).

    Instead, the national broadcaster flooded its audiences with positive, and mostly banal reports, about ZANU PF’s primary elections, disguised as national news.

    This was reflected in stories such as ZANU PF digests recommendations (2/6, 8pm); ZANU PF tackles key issues (13/6, 8pm); ZANU PF sets out primaries rules (14/6, 8pm); No imposition of candidates: SK (15/6, 8pm); ZANU PF candidates submit CVs (15/6, 8pm); Mash Central welcomes primaries guidelines (15/6, 8pm); Let not primary elections divide us: VP Mujuru (16/6, 8pm); ZANU PF completes candidates nomination (17/6, 8pm); ZANU PF vets candidates (18/6, 8pm); Politburo endorses candidates (19/6, 8pm); No to infighting, ZANU PF told (21/6, 8pm); ZANU PF primaries postponed (21/6, 8pm); ZANU PF primaries re-scheduled to Tuesday (23/6, 8pm); Midlands goes to the polls (25/6, 8pm); Voting opens in Mat South (25); ZANU PF extends primary elections (25/6, 8pm); ZANU PF bigwigs win primaries (26/6, 8pm); ZANU PF primaries results start tricking in (26/6, 8pm); ZANU PF's final list of candidates (28/6, 8pm).

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