ZIMBABWEANS could disseminate election messages using the Internet to promote citizenship journalism and evade inhibitive media laws and censorship, media consultant and political analyst Ernest Mudzengi has said.
REPORT BY EVERSON MUSHAVA CHIEF REPORTER
Addressing a media workshop organised by the Zimbabwe Election Support Network last week, Mudzengi said Zimbabwe’s highly-charged electoral atmosphere stifled freedoms of expression, the media and access to information and the use of Internet would help close the gap.
“Information communication technologies (ICTs) allow for a wider audience and reach,” Mudzengi said.
“The Internet is one such example which can be accessed by people from all over the world. In cases, ICTs help in the evasion of inhibitive media laws and censorship.
“Media houses must come up with, and or improve, interactive, socially-relevant ICT platforms that effectively spread information on elections. This must, however, be done in the context of the country’s laws,” he said.
Zimbabwe’s media landscape is under siege from a plethora of repressive laws, among them the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, Public Order and Security Act, the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, the Official Secrets Act, and the Broadcasting and Services Act.
Mudzengi said people could rely on social network sites to disseminate electoral messages using such platform like Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin, to mention but a few, together with the use of mobile phone text messages and satellite broadcasting.
Mudzengi said Zimbabweans could use social networking through various modern information communication technologies to “updating regional and local stakeholders on key electoral issues that may be taking place and facilitating discussions regarding elections regardless of time and space”.
According to Mudzengi, viewers now preferred to watch foreign channels beamed into the country by satellite. Latest surveys by advertising organisations have shown that 47% of urban viewers watch satellite TV whereas only 27% watch ZBC-TV.
Speaking at the same event, Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe executive director Takura Zhangazha expressed concern over the criminalisation of journalism and the unnecessary bureaucratisation of media by such bodies like the Zimbabwe Media Commission, Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe.