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  • Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles

  • Media ethics analysis column: 28 August 2013
    Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe
    August 28, 2013

    “There is life after elections”

    Welcome to the final publication of the VMCZ Media Ethics Column on the 31 July 2013 harmonised elections. The column will however, continue to run on a weekly basis to upgrade members on issues identified by the Media Ethics Committee (MEC) as significantly impacting on ethical coverage of new stories by Zimbabwe’s media.

    This current edition shall however, analyse the media’s coverage of the following news events in the last week (19-26 August 2013):

    a) The Inauguration of the President of Zimbabwe.
    b) The election of Mayors and Council Chairpersons
    c) Newly elected Members of Parliament

    It is against this background that the MEC analyzed stories from different media houses among them 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.

    a) Media coverage on the President’s inauguration

    Although the MEC lauds a fair coverage of the President’s inauguration, cases of partisan reportage are still conspicuous. The MEC took into account how the public media focused on congratulating the president-elect on his seventh five-year term as head of state and private media focusing on the preparedness of the event.

    However, the MEC also took note of some newspaper sections that were awash with inflammatory language. The public media mocked perceived losers through unsavory language and inferences.

    On the opposite end, the private media declared the inauguration the last of its kind for the ailing leader amid succession disputes within his (President’s) party. There was also emphasis on the issue of how many heads of state and government from SADC and the African Union eventually turned up at the event without follow up as to why they may or may not have attended.

    The MEC urges editors of all daily newspapers to take note of the need for continued professional and ethical standards in reporting even in highly political moments such as was the Presidential inauguration ceremony.

    b) The election of Mayors and Council Chairpersons

    The MEC also observed that the election of Mayors and council Chairpersons has been a contentious issue in the media. Particularly where it concerned the legal criteria for the election of selected candidates. There was inadequate follow up stories on the mechanisms in which the mayors were to be elected and some of the stories that were eventually published had components of political bias. Particularly in the public media. It is therefore pertinent for media practitioners to be accurate, fair and balanced in their reporting and also to undertake the necessary follow up stories on issues that will not yet be concluded.

    c) Newly elected Members of Parliament

    The MEC observed that both public and private media covered some newly elected Members of Parliament extensively. The coverage has also focused on issues of the limited academic credentials of some of these new Members of Parliament. In the process of correctly subjecting leaders to public scrutiny, there was however, the occasional omission of the fact that in relation to Parliament, there are no minimum academic qualifications required.

    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.

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