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  • Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles

  • ZEC urged to tackle hate speech
    Alex Bell, SW Radio
    July 24, 2013

    With just a week to go until the elections in Zimbabwe, the Commission tasked with delivering a free and fair poll is under pressure to tackle the worsening problem of hate speech.

    Incidents of hate speech have been on the rise, as the campaign trails of the main political parties contesting in the polls next week, hot up. The worst incidents have been seen in the Zanu-PF aligned state media, which has been ratcheting up its hate speech in recent weeks.

    The main victim of this has been MDC-T President and Robert Mugabe’s main rival, Morgan Tsvangirai. Most recently, the ZBC has been flighting political adverts for Zanu-PF which have been dragging Tsvangirai’s name through the mud. This includes a series of interview with the Prime Minister’s alleged sexual conquests.

    Tsvangirai is not the only target of the hate speech. Recently, the Zanu-PF mouthpiece newspaper the Herald has been publishing increasing acid attacks against the South African facilitation official, Lindiwe Zulu. The hate speech against her has continued, despite Mugabe’s successful bid to have her silenced by South African President Jacob Zuma.

    The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) last week pledged to tackle the problem, saying it is getting more reports of hate speech in the run up to elections next week. In a statement last Friday, the electoral body said it had received several complaints and would make individual follow-ups on each complaint with a view to charging offenders.

    “The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has received various complaints from across the political divide on use of inflammatory language and hate speech by political players and in media reports,” ZEC said.

    Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe executive director Takura Zhangazha said it is critical for the editorial policies of newsrooms to change, if hate speech was to be tackled effectively. He said this would only be successful when people actively complain and these complaints are followed up.

    “The biggest challenge is that these complaints are not always brought forward, so a change is only likely in so far as people complain,” Zhangazha said.

    SW Radio Africa is Zimbabwe's Independent Voice and broadcasts on Short Wave 4880 KHz in the 60m band.

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