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  • Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles

  • Daily Election Report - Issue 3
    The Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe
    July 18, 2013


    Highlights of the state-controlled national broadcaster, ZBC, today was President Mugabe’s address at Chibuku Stadium in Chitungwiza where he attacked the MDC-T for being corrupt, and working with the West to effect regime change in the country.

    Only SW Radio Africa among the private radio stations gave prominence to accusations by MDC-T secretary-general Tendai Biti that a “military junta” had taken over the running of ZEC operations in order to influence the outcome of the July 31 harmonised elections. The other stations gave this news much less attention.

    The Stats

    • The electronic media carried 26 election-related stories in their main evening news bulletins today. [Party activities 15, election administration issues five, and six political violence stories].
    • Of the 15 stories they carried on political party activities, ZBC broadcast eight, and the private media aired seven. The five stories on the administration of the election broadcast by these media were distributed evenly, one apiece, between ZBC, SW Radio Africa, Studio 7, Star FM and ZiFM.
    • ZANU PF’s party campaign activities received a total of 16 mins and 45 secs on ZTV’s main evening news bulletin, compared to just two minutes of negative coverage for the MDC-T, and one minute 07secs for the smaller MDC party. Is this “equitable” coverage by the national public broadcaster? Another day that the Electoral regulations governing the conduct of the media during elections have been ignored.
    • Only SW Radio Africa and Studio 7 reported three cases of political violence in six reports.

    Party Campaign Activities

    Mugabe’s fighting talk dominates ZBC

    The national public broadcaster, ZBC, continued to provide undiluted, biased and favourable coverage to ZANU PF activities while giving minimal coverage to the activities of its coalition government partners, the MDC-T and MDC-N.

    ZBC (ZTV [four] & Spot FM [two]) carried six reports on ZANU PF campaign activities and one apiece on the MDC-T and MDC N.

    The domestic private radio stations ZiFM and Star FM aired three ZANU PF campaign stories between them.

    SW Radio Africa also carried two stories on the political parties’ campaign activities; one on a ZANU PF rally in Chipinge where its candidate, Enoch Porusingazi, was reported warning the public against voting for MDC-T, while the other only focused on the death of a woman in a stampede at President Mugabe’s Chitungwiza rally. It all but ignored Mugabe angrily attacking the West for being the architects of regime change.

    But Studio 7 did report Mugabe’s comments, and also carried a story on independent presidential candidate, Kisinoti Mukwazhe.

    ZBC’s two reports on the MDC formations were both presented in a way that discredited the MDC-T.

    For example ZTV reported the MDC’s Professor Welshman Ncube ruling out a coalition with the larger MDC-T party saying, “his party will not go into a coalition of convenience with a party that does not have a national agenda.”

    Ncube was speaking at the launch of his party’s 2013 campaign in Chikomba.

    ZTV’s other report selectively quoted ordinary people criticising Prime Minister Tsvangirai for allegedly mocking the police force at a rally in Masvingo. But it ignored all other aspects of the MDC-T meeting.

    Of all the electronic media, only SW Radio Africa picked up news of the possibility of the African Union holding an urgent meeting this Friday to discuss Zimbabwe’s election preparations as revealed by President Mugabe at his Rudhaka Stadium rally the previous day in Marondera. But even they didn’t make the connection between the AU meeting and the organization’s responsibility, together with SADC, as guarantors of a credible election that the coalition partners signed up to under the GPA.

    President Mugabe’s belligerent attack on the West and the MDC-T at ZANU PF’s Chitungwiza rally yesterday (Monday), received wide coverage on ZBC’s bulletins.

    All the media also reported the death of a woman at the rally after a stampede.

    ZBC presented the large turn-out as a reflection of the President’s popularity, but only SW Radio Africa reported that ZANU PF youths had forced large sections of the local community to attend the rally.

    ZTV and Spot FM both reported Mugabe castigating the West for trying to effect regime change in the country and exploit the country’s minerals.

    He was reported urging people to vote for ZANU PF, which had the peoples’ interests at heart, and criticised the MDC-T for corruption and causing widespread suffering by calling for sanctions against the country.

    ZBC reported three other ZANU PF rallies around the country, including one in Chinhoyi addressed by Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo, campaigning for ZANU PF’s aspiring candidate, Philip Chiyangwa, pledging to “parcel out” 2000 residential stands before the July 31 elections. This was not considered a blatant act of vote-buying by the national broadcaster.

    Election Administration

    The electronic media continued to highlight the administrative and logistical chaos that characterised the special voting process that that started on July 14 and officially ended at midnight on Monday.

    In its five stories on the topic the electronic media reported that countless numbers of people had failed to cast their votes due to late delivery of ballots to their centres.

    ZBC carried one report while the remaining stories appeared in the private media.

    SW Radio Africa reported MDC-T secretary-general Tendai Biti claiming at a press conference that a military “junta” was interfering in the operations of ZEC and “of taking over the running of elections.”

    ZTV, Studio 7 & SW Radio Africa all quoted Biti criticising ZEC for its lack of readiness to conduct free, fair and credible elections, and accusing ZEC of unlawfully extending the special voting to Tuesday.

    Star FM quoted ZEC chairperson Justice Rita Makarau admitting there were problems printing ballot papers but said the electoral body would ensure that those who failed to vote would get the opportunity to do so on July 31.

    Other reports on the administration of the election included comments from the head of the SADC election observer mission Bernard Membe, saying if elections are conducted in a free and fair environment SADC would accept the results (ZiFM).

    Political Violence

    The public media did not report any incidents of political violence. It only carried three reports quoting President Mugabe, church leaders and the Muslim community encouraging political tolerance and peace ahead of the elections.

    Only SW Radio Africa and Studio 7 reported three cases of harassment and intimidation of MDC-T supporters by ZANU PF supporters and war veterans.

    SW Radio Africa reported Chief Karakadzai Madhuku of Chipinge South and ZANU PF official Enoch Porusingazi threatening people with violence if ZANU PF loses the elections.

    Studio 7 reported suspected ZANU PF activists attacking the home of MDC-T parliamentary candidate for Muzarabani on Sunday.

    Current Affairs Programmes

    In recent weeks the electronic media have introduced current affairs programmes discussing election-related issues.

    ZTV (16/7) carried two current affairs programmes called, The Manifesto and Melting Pot between 6pm-9pm.
    The Manifesto, featured Evans Sagomba of Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn and Kelvin Kasosera of the Zimbabwe Patriotic Movement, who spoke of their parties’ plans for the country.

    Melting Pot featured MDC-T youth assembly secretary, Promise Mkwanazi, and Zimbabwe Youth Action Group Secretary Tafadzwa Mugwadi who discussed the role of the youth.

    Spot FM has also introduced a programme, Today in Politics, which runs every day from 6.30 to 7pm to discuss activities happening ahead of the elections.

    ZIFM had two current affairs programmes during their 6-9pm programming:

    The Agenda discussed women’s participation in elections and featured MDC-T Deputy Women Affairs Minister Jessie Majome and MDC-N’s aspiring legislator for Harare Central, Helen Muthlanga.

    The other show was called X1G that featured the director of the Election Resource Centre, Tawanda Chimhini, talking on youth participation in the election.

    Political Advertising

    ZTV and Star FM continued to air unidentified political advertisements that discredited the MDC-T party and its leader Morgan Tsvangirai. The origins of the adverts are not stated, nor are they clearly identified as advertisements; a violation of the Electoral Law (for details see MMPZ’s earlier reports).

    ZTV also continued airing the MDC-T advert entitled, “Its time for more”.

    ZiFM flighted an advert sponsored by Women Trust that urged women to go and vote.

    Print media report for Wednesday, July 17th, 2013


    The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission’s failure to complete the special early voting exercise for the uniformed forces and civil servants who will be on duty on Election Day was the main focus of all the newspapers today.

    Both the public and private media reported that the Commission had failed as a result of plots to undermine its efforts to conduct the exercise successfully.

    The main sources of information for the private media’s stories emanated from the MDC-T leadership, principally its president Morgan Tsvangirai and its secretary-general Tendai Biti, while The Herald’s “conspiracy” story appeared to emanate mainly from “sources close to developments” accusing the MDC formations of attempting to wreck the process in order to force a postponement of the main elections.

    Only The Herald reported that ZANU PF had quit the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (Jomic), set up under the Global Political Agreement, reportedly as a result of the abuse of the organization’s assets by the two MDC formations.

    But while these stories dominated the headlines, most reports in all the papers were about the various political party campaign activities.

    The Stats

    • The print media carried 30 stories related to news about the harmonized elections, to be held on July 31st.
    • Of these, 16 (53%) were contained in the private newspapers, NewsDay and The Daily News.
    • The remaining 14 appeared in the state-owned daily, The Herald.
    • Nineteen (63%) of the 30 stories were on party political campaigns, while the remaining 11 were issues related to the administration of the vote.
    • In addition, the private papers carried three advertisements, two from Prime Minister Tsvangirai’s MDC party and one from a civic group, Women’s Trust, urging women to vote for female candidates.

    Campaign Activities

    ZANU PF enjoys positive publicity

    THE Press carried 19 reports on the campaign activities of all the parties, 11 (58%) of which appeared in the private Press: Daily News (nine) and NewsDay (two).

    The official daily, The Herald published the remaining eight.

    Of the eight stories The Herald carried on party activities, four were on those of ZANU PF, while three were on Prime Minister Tsvangirai’s MDC party. The remaining one was on the smaller MDC formation, led by Industry Minister Welshman Ncube.

    As is now usual, all the reports on ZANU PF were positive, while those on the MDC-T were negative.

    Notably, the MDC-N was mostly reported in the context of discrediting Tsvangirai and his party. In this case, The Herald published an opinion piece by Peace Thabane defending Ncube’s refusal to form a ‘grand’ coalition with Tsvangirai against Mugabe. Thabane argued that if Ncube had joined the MDC-T he would have run “the risk of undermining his principled position of dissociating himself from violence, corruption and all the other vices associated with MDC-T”.

    The MDC-N leader would have joined “an entity he clearly demonstrated harbours everything that is undemocratic and violent”, Thabane claimed, adding, “If he joins this coalition with a dirty history, Ncube will have a difficult job reasserting himself as a principled, non-violent and democratic leader”.

    The Herald’s news reports on ZANU PF’s campaign activities were cut from the same cloth.

    It reported senior ZANU PF officials, including Mugabe, boasting that ZANU PF was the only party with solutions for Zimbabwe’s problems and amplified comments by these officials vilifying the MDC-T and its alleged Western masters.

    For example, The Herald reported Mugabe accusing the West of trying “to use opposition political parties and non-governmental organizations to effect regime change but failed”. The President made these remarks while addressing thousands of ZANU PF supporters at a “star rally” at Chibuku Stadium in Chitungwiza.

    The Herald reported Mugabe accusing the MDC-T and NGOs of “trying to portray Zimbabwe as a violence-riddled country” ahead of the elections. Mugabe mocked the MDC-T mantra of “change” saying it was “impossible to change the fact that they were Zimbabweans”, adding that “all the noise Western countries were making about Zimbabwe was because they no longer had direct access to the country’s resources”.

    In contrast, the private papers’ coverage of party campaigns remained inclusive, reporting senior officials from both ZANU PF and the MDC-T expressing their policies.

    These papers also gave platforms to smaller parties such as the MDC formation, led by Industry Minister Welshman Ncube, and the newly formed party Alliance Khumbula Ekhaya (AKE), to articulate their positions.

    NewsDay followed up its previous day’s report on Mugabe’s revelation that the African Union was due to meet on Friday to discuss Zimbabwe’s election preparations. It reported that the MDC formations and SADC were unaware of the meeting. It quoted Lindiwe Zulu, international relations adviser to the South African president and SADC facilitator, Jacob Zuma saying, “I do not know about the summit….Maybe it was discussed at presidential level, but the norm is that SADC has to be in the picture, which they do not seem to be.”

    Administration Issues

    Knives out for ZEC

    Complaints by Prime Minister Tsvangirai, civic organizations, such as Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CZC) and the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) and some political analysts, over the chaotic manner in which the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) handled the special early voting process dominated the private papers’ coverage of the administration of Zimbabwe’s July 31st vote.

    The complaints were contained in six (86%) of the seven reports the private papers carried on administrative issues.

    The remaining one was on the reiteration by the ZANU PF arm of government that foreign observers would not be allowed to observe Zimbabwe’s elections.

    Both the Daily News and NewsDay reported the MDC-T claiming ZEC had lost control of the elections to State security agents as it emerged that uniformed forces were, at some centres, still casting their ballots as special voters by early yesterday (Tuesday), several hours after the cut-off time, in violation of electoral laws.

    Addressing a Press conference in Harare, MDC-T secretary-general Tendai Biti said his party would make a High Court application to contest the validity of the exercise and approach SADC citing a litany of electoral violations.

    Biti absolved ZEC chairperson Justice Rita Makarau and some of the commissioners of wrongdoing, but castigated some members of the secretariat whom he said were disregarding directives handed down to them.

    “They (ZEC officials) are now taking instructions direct from the junta,” Biti said, but did not produce evidence for this claim.

    MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai echoed these comments at a campaign rally in Gokwe, saying that ZEC had deliberately bungled the special voting so as to rig the main election results.

    Tsvangirai queried: “They failed to handle 80,000 voters in two days — how can they be expected to handle six million voters in one day?”

    Tsvangirai claimed that ZEC’s failure was not by coincidence. He believed the “artificial” shortages of special voting ballots had been created after ZANU PF realized that the police, whom they had thought would vote for them, were actually going to vote for the MDC-T.

    Tsvangirai also accused ZANU PF of bussing its youths in to vote as police officers at the Mount Pleasant Hall polling station. But Tsvangirai also didn’t provide evidence for his claims.

    Coincidentally, The Herald also attributed the chaos that characterized the special voting process to a plot as well. Only the paper blamed the MDC formations who, it said, were trying to force a postponement of the national election.
    In its front page report, ‘Plot to scuttle polls flops’, The Herald claimed the chaos that characterized the special voting, which officially ended on July 15th, “has been attributed to an intricate plot by the MDC formations, working with some elements in ZEC, to scuttle harmonized elections…”

    According to the daily however, the plot failed “after it was unearthed and a raft of interventions to neutralize it to ensure the harmonized elections proceed as scheduled were adopted”.

    The paper reported “sources close to developments” as having said “after unsuccessfully pursuing all possible avenues to delay the polls”, from lobbying SADC, to flooding the courts with applications, the MDC formations “had turned to the AU and wanted a failed special vote to strengthen their hand” ahead of a special summit set for July 19th.

    This story was part of four reports The Herald carried on problems that affected ZEC’s special voting.

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