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Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles
ethics analysis column: 05 August – 13 August 2013
Media Council of Zimbabwe
August 14, 2013
nation at crossroads’
Welcome to the
fourth publication of the VMCZ Media Ethics Column on the media‘s
conduct for the July
31 2013 harmonised elections period.
assessment would be based on a reading of media stories from 05
August to 13 August 2013.
The VMCZ Media
Ethics Committee analysed stories from various media houses that
include the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) television and
the five daily newspapers, namely, NewsDay, The Herald, The Chronicle,
The Southern Eye and the Daily News.
The Media Ethics
Committee (MEC) noted that stories covered during the week under
review dwelled mainly on the court
challenge of the electoral outcome by the MDC-T. The newspapers
also extensively devoted time to cover the congratulatory messages
that came in from countries that congratulated President Mugabe
on winning the elections.
The MEC noted
with concern the continuing polarization in the media and the partisan
coverage of issues by both the public and private media.
The MEC expresses
concern with the manner in which ZBC continues deprive a voice to
those political parties who suffered defeat during the harmonized
Thus one of
the major challenges still remaining during the post electoral period
is the issue of media polarisation.
MEC is concerned with polarization, it is also equally concerned
by media institutions bent on escalating tension. This is evidenced
by the use of inflammatory language and character assassinating
that is taking place when reportage is made of particular candidates
that contested the harmonized elections.
On post election
challenges and endorsements the MEC identified the major issues
covered by the media over the preceding week as being the following:
coverage by the state broadcaster
ii) Abuse of editorial comment for political activism
iii) Journalists being in the frontline in fanning political hatred
the above-cited coverage, VMCZ took note of the following pertinent
issues affecting the media:
coverage by broadcast media
role played by the media before and during elections is undisputed.
However, the MEC has noted with great concern attempts by the media
to evoke tension through inflammatory language which pokes and provokes
other political parties.
diminishing political leaders who did not make it in this year’s
elections have been rampant. In some sections of the media, there
have been reports that foment and incites citizens to demonstrate
against the outcome of the elections. The MEC views this as promoting
violence and states that such reportage breaches the Code
of Conduct for media practitioners and institutions in Zimbabwe.
of editorial comments for political activism
The MEC noted
with great concern the abuse of the editorial pages. The editorial
pages in most newspapers were used either to castigate the electoral
process or to mock defeated parties and candidates through inflammatory
language. The MEC would like to remind media institutions and practitioners
of Section 4(v) of the code of conduct which that states:
4(v) Media institutions
must endeavour to provide full, fair and balanced reports of events
and must not suppress essential information pertaining to those
events. They must not distort information by exaggeration, by giving
only one side of a story, by placing improper emphasis on one aspect
of a story, by reporting the facts out of the context in which they
occurred or by suppressing relevant available facts. They must avoid
using misleading headlines or billboard postings.
being in the frontline in fanning political hatred
MEC also noted
a trend where journalists in the majority of newspapers analysed
were fanning political hatred through concentrating on negative
stories. The stories generated in most newspapers were divisive,
partisan and lacked the nation building focus that is required at
this point in time. The committee urges editors from both the private
and the public media to encourage reporters within the newsrooms
to desist from creating divisions in the country.
noted that all newspapers in the country covered the court electoral
disputes in a fair manner. The committee commends the media for
the informative role and urges them to continue with the professionalism.
As the “fourth estate” the media should uphold its peacekeeping
role and be the unifying factor in this period marred by political
tensions emanating from the outcome of this year’s much contested
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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