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Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles
ethics analysis column: 28 July – 4 August 2013
Media Council of Zimbabwe
August 06, 2013
Welcome to the
third publication of the VMCZ Ethics Analysis column on the media’s
conduct during the
July 31 2013 harmonised elections. This column is based on a
reading of media stories in the preceding week and will juxtapose
them with Sections 10 and 11 of the VMCZ
Media Code of Conduct which outlines the expected professional
conduct of the media during electoral periods.
The column will
today make an assessment of how the media has continued to cover
the just ended 2013 elections taking into account electoral issues
from 28 July to 4 August 2013. The VMCZ analysed stories from various
media houses including the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC)
television and the five daily newspapers, namely, News Day, The
Herald, The Chronicle, The Southern Eye and the Daily News.
The Media Ethics
Committee (MEC) noted the use of derogatory language on political
candidates and political parties that lost in this year’s
elections. More so the continued use of hate speech by both the
private and public media was also rampant during this period as
newspapers and the electronic media resorted to name calling. The
committee calls on the media to stop using hate language as this
increases hostility and tension in the post election period.
Suffice to say
the MEC wishes to remind all state and private media houses as well
as journalists of the need to promote peace in their reportage.
The MEC identified
the major issues covered by the media over the last week as being
i) Polling day
ii) Coverage of and announcement of results.
iii) Post election coverage.
the above-cited coverage, VMCZ took note of the following generic
issues affecting the media:
on polling day
commends efforts by media institutions to encourage people to go
out and vote and for reporting on the conducive atmosphere that
allowed people to go and cast their votes without any fear. The
committee noted that the media in their coverage concentrated on
preaching peace and giving hope to Zimbabweans regardless of their
political affiliations. The committee commends the media for their
professionalism in that area.
of and announcement of results
2.1 The committee noted that all newspapers in the country covered
the election result announcement in accordance with provisions provided
for in the Electoral
Act. The media in their coverage took cognisance of the whole
process of announcing results and only communicated results that
were announced by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).
The MEC also
took note of the media’s open partisan coverage of political
parties in their leader pages and in opinion pieces. The MEC also
noted that comments in most newspapers were biased and were used
to cement newspaper positions towards certain political parties.
Most newspaper comments used inflammatory language and were either
celebratory or derogatory.
2.2 The committee
urges editors to examine all letters to the editor, comments and
opinions that promote hatred and incite violence and should weed
out such letters to the editor and opinion pieces from their newspaper
of violence, use of hate speech and inflammatory language violates
the VMCZ’s Code of Conduct as it breaches Sections 10 &
11 of the code.
3.1 The MEC
witnessed with great concern numerous pieces of opinions and stories
conveying mixed emotions after the announcing of results. In the
week under review some newspapers, including weekly newspapers,
published comments where they openly expressed their joy or shock
using inflammatory, derogatory and abusive language.
The MEC urges
caution among media practitioners as some stories may cause tension
in the country.
3.2 The MEC
also reminds editors of newspapers of their obligation to promote
peace in the country and refers the editors to Section 7b and 7c
of the VMCZ code of conduct which read:
7b) A comment
or expression of opinion must be a genuine and honest comment or
expression of opinion relating to established fact.
7c) Comment or conjecture must not be presented in such a way as
to create the impression that it is established fact.
The MEC while
acknowledging that newspapers can back policies of a certain political
party, they however have an obligation to provide accurate, truthful
and balanced information to their readers.
The MEC urges
media institutions to play a peace-keeping role as the nation moves
from the election day into post election period. The committee also
encourages media practitioners to be balanced, fair and accurate
in their reportage.
If members of
the public are not happy with any story published by the media in
Zimbabwe on any election related matter they are free to lodge a
complaint with the VMCZ’s Media Complaints Committee.
the VMCZ fact
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