ALPHA Media Holdings chairman Trevor Ncube said he was worried the MDCs in the inclusive government lacked a clear media policy and feared they would abuse the State media the way Zanu PF did if either of them gets into power.
Report by Everson Mushava
Speaking at a Sapes Trust policy dialogue debate on media freedom in Harare on Thursday, Ncube said the MDCs had shown a lack of passion in media freedom and he envisaged continuation of the abuse of State media should they come in power.
He said he was disappointed that the MDCs had failed to campaign for the privatisation of Zimpapers, the publisher of dailies The Herald and The Chronicle, and weeklies Sunday Mail, Sunday News and Manica Post, and their silence on the matter was an indication that they would want to perpetuate the current status quo.
“The media does not have a partner in Zanu PF and the MDCs,” Ncube said.
“The MDCs should have been fighting for the privatisation of Zimpapers so that it is controlled by an Act of Parliament. We do not see this being argued by the people in the MDCs and it is worrying. There might not be hope if the MDCs get into power.”
Ncube said media repression in Zimbabwe was caused by unpopular laws such as enacted by the Zanu PF government to stifle the free flow of information and warned such trends were a threat to the economic development of the country.
President Robert Mugabe’s government introduced and tightened repressive laws such as the Access to Information and Protection of Act, Public Order and Security Act, Official Secrets Act, and Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, among others, to curtail free flow of information. Ncube said he was saddened that the inclusive government had perpetuated the Zanu PF perceptions of the media and the media had continued to be under siege, a situation he said stifled sharing of ideas for national development.
He said government should see the media as a partner, not a threat.
Ncube also implored journalists to be ethical and professional and embrace digital media as it was the future. He said newspapers were under threat because of digital media and media organisations should either adapt or die.
“It is important for journalists to take themselves seriously before people take them seriously,” he said, adding that media in Africa would change with 84 % of the African population expected to be connected to mobile communication by 2015.