Media bias under spotlight

IN Zimbabwe, the media is either green or red and during election period, media houses nail their political colours to the mast.


While ECF-Sadc said it was happy with the establishment of the Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC), meant to ensure that citizens enjoy fair and wide access to information among others, the body said the media was blatantly biased.

“The mission noted with concern the partisan and biased coverage given to some political parties and their candidates by both the public and private media,” ECF-Sadc mission leader advocate Notemba Tjipuja told journalists at a press conference last week.

“This undoubtedly compromised the guiding principles of equality, equity and fairness,” said Tjipuja. Two daily newspapers, The Herald and Daily News stand out with taking political sides.

The Herald is a Zanu PF mouthpiece, while the Daily News sings MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s praises.

Media analyst Alexandre Rusero, a lecturer at Harare Polytechnic College, told the Mail & Guardian that the Zimbabwean media failed to practise what it’s supposed to.

“The media is a yardstick to assess democracy in any country. Sadly, in Zimbabwe, we’ve got something completely different.” Rusero said the Zimbabwean media started wearing political colours after the formation of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in 2000, with the public media taking Zanu PF’s side and private media largely sympathising with the opposition.

He said the Daily News was formed “exactly six months after the formation of the MDC”.

“The position of the Daily News is as good as the position of the Herald. In a normal media environment this should not be the case.
Different views should mix and mingle in the media,” said Rusero.

While being biased is acceptable in other countries, Rusero said in Zimbabwe the media is so bad “to the extreme of peddling lies about a certain politician or party that’s opposing their chosen side. Here, the media is going beyond biasedness and is undermining the intelligence of readers, insulting the public”.

While the political battle continued in newspapers, there was no television competitor for the country’s public broadcaster ZBC, which confidently takes Zanu PF’s side.

For each story, Mugabe is introduced as “head of state and government, commander-in-chief of armed forces, comrade, President Robert Mugabe”. No negative story is broadcast about the former liberation movement or its leaders and stories about them are hardly probed, while no positives are broadcast about the MDC.

However, Rusero said it’s unlikely that Zanu PF has got a hand in how the ZBC conducts itself. “We’ve got certain functionaries within State media who, for their own reasons, do this. They become over-enthusiastic and want to be seen as doing something the ruling party likes.”

But the fact that secretary for media, information and publicity George Charamba also doubles as president Mugabe’s spokesperson has contributed to ZBC’s way of covering news, Rusero said.

“It’s the agenda of the president first before it becomes the agenda of the public, but I don’t think this has got anything to do with Zanu PF directive,” he said.

Zimbabwean newspapers last week went all out campaigning for preferred candidates. Last Monday’s Daily News carried a frontpage headline saying, “Game over for Mugabe”.

The newspaper’s editorial, titled Mugabe must go, added to the bias.
“We say unequivocally that Zimbabweans must retire this mature citizen (Mugabe). We desperately need new blood. It is nothing personal, but about the future of our country.”

The Herald was not about to be outdone. The newspaper’s voting day editorial blamed the MDC for Zimbabwe holding elections a month after the June 30 expiry of Parliament. Mugabe had been ruling by a presidential decree during this period.

The paper said the MDC is the party that doesn’t like going back to the people for a fresh mandate. “This is also the nation’s chance to punish the MDC-T and its western handlers for encumbering us with a ruinous sanctions regime over the past decade,” The Herald editorial read.

It used Wednesday for a last-minute opportunity to help its preferred candidate win the poll, publishing an article, titled Tsvangirai, man who spat in communal well, accusing the MDC-T leader of forgetting his people in his home village Humanikwa, in Buhera district.

Humanikwa villagers face water shortages, while he has funded an irrigation scheme at his mother’s home, The Herald reported.

“That Tsvangirai has failed to impress in his own backyard is telling enough of his unsuitability for the highest office in the land, for, do they not say charity begins at home?”

During the elections in Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, working with the Zimbabwe Media Commission and the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe, were charged with monitoring the country’s media to ensure that the conduct of political parties, candidates and journalists are “generally above board during this period”, said the ECF-Sadc in a statement.


20 Responses to Media bias under spotlight

  1. Pastor August 5, 2013 at 7:33 am #

    Newsday and all trevor ncube publications supports welshman ncube directy or otherwise

  2. Conscience August 5, 2013 at 8:30 am #

    Alexander Rusero is complex. Doesn’t he contribute to Daily News?

  3. Taris August 5, 2013 at 8:52 am #

    The worst newspaper in pedling liesis DailyNews. Its support fo Tsvangirai is so glaring that it smacks of taking the nation fo granted,so much th way Tsvangirai did, and learnt the hardway! I wont be surprised if the readership of DailyNews dwindles. The Herald has the mandate to support state organs coz its a state paper. A prvt paper that purpots to be prvt wen it an Mdc ppr must be trimmed to become an Mdc newsletter and banned from selling in public! Who are they to scream Mugabe must go wen Mugabe has millions of followers? With parliament now under Zanu pf, the pper has only itself to blame if the ghost of 2003 revisits it!

    • bosco tanganda bizimungu August 5, 2013 at 11:50 am #

      You are an uneducated psychophant, idiotic buffon who doesnt know the meaning of “state”. The herald is owned by the government, which means every bonafide citizen of Zimbabwe is a shareholder in Zimpapers. What that means is the herald should be accountable to Zimbabwean citizens, who apparently the majority are not members of Zanu pf (nevermind the rigged election).
      You thisnk “state” means zanu pf thats why you are so so stupid to conclude that “The Herald has the mandate to support state organs coz its a state paper”???

      Is Zanu Pf a state organ? is the State Zanu Pf? You are ignorant yet you chose to talk abount things you are least informed about ?Keeping quiet when you are clueless is ok for it maintains your dignity, at least no one will know you are an empty humpty dumty

    • peter johns August 5, 2013 at 1:59 pm #

      your analysis is horrible……………..stupid

  4. reason August 5, 2013 at 9:28 am #

    The herald publishes common truths and is well balanced, if the herald was not there, people
    would have been fed with idiotic and neo-colonialist articles. The herald reflects the true mind and events in Zimbabwe. The Mail and the Guardian is a white man’s paper with a black man as a front. Daily news is not even a newspaper at all, it is propaganda pamphlet.

  5. TM August 5, 2013 at 10:37 am #

    Alexander is avoiding the truth where he says “Zanu-PF has nothing to do with it…’ refering to the Herald. Who else would have anything to do with it then?

  6. BaNga August 5, 2013 at 11:48 am #

    The Daily news is an MDC-T mouth piece, a campaign pamphet, on election day they had a headline “89 reasons why Mugabe must go” this is in line with Bob’s years and I could not even read such blatant bias. It is for that reason that people end up in violence. Our media in Zimbabwe is the number one instigator of hate speech by their screaming headlines. I foresee Daily news closing shop because Gushungo will be on your neck soon. Don’t say I did not warn you. What is going to happen to PM staffers now?

    • jojo August 5, 2013 at 12:51 pm #

      Both Daily News and the MDC T stand for the truth, they dont compromise on that one!! So naturally they augment each other!![ Check what augment means if you have a dictionary, i know you dont know what it means]

  7. Shinzoh August 5, 2013 at 12:36 pm #

    Wheres the Newsday in all this????????????
    Are you seriously telling us that the newsday was/is partial . Nxaaaaaaaa
    All the private papers tried but ultimately failed to help Tsvangirai, maka kundwa ne 1 bepa nhau…….Lol
    The opposition now has a tv station, oh and several radio stations too, Ichooo!

    • jojo August 5, 2013 at 12:56 pm #

      Shinzoh, uchasura nenzara in the near future, kusura kuti bhuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu!!!!!
      Mumashops hamutengwe necard remusangano!!!

  8. scot August 5, 2013 at 2:39 pm #

    All mainstream newspapers are biased all across the world, that is hardly news!

  9. Dzvinyangoma August 5, 2013 at 4:14 pm #

    How shocking that there is no mention of Newsday’s own plethora of biased articles and opinion pieces? But then again and M&G are owned by Ncube same as Newsday hence the ommition of Newsday’s openly biased coverage against Zanu PF and Mugabe.

  10. Taris August 5, 2013 at 4:41 pm #

    Bosco bizimungu, why scold me?Chokwadi chinorwadza handiti? Hw educated z ur Tsvangson? No matter your opinion, Mdc and DailyNews wil always b losers.U r also a loser yourslf, enjoy licking mh***t* dzevarungu and liv us alone. About NewsDay, at least these guys try to balance,at least!

  11. Self censorship ndizvo! August 5, 2013 at 10:48 pm #

    Some people are principled. Others support genocide blindly. Others inherited a good newspaper, Daily News and now it has no visiblity. Zanu pf folks prefer Newsday to their own Herald. We can tell by their letters on here. Government is not worried about Daily News or Herald for that matter. I won’t touch Herald with a long pole till further notice. Daily News insults my intelligence, no free-reading, even. Do they even have a website (Daily News)?

  12. noname August 6, 2013 at 4:43 am #

    newsday supports MDC there is no doubt about that.u never say anything good abt Mugabe and u try by all means to tell us whats going wrong in Zimbabwe and less about whats going right just like studio 7 does.

  13. kitnaik August 6, 2013 at 9:40 am #

    If newsday editor has any brain left……listen to constructive criticism.

  14. Chirau August 6, 2013 at 2:54 pm #

    Alexander Rusero was commenting on his capacity as a media lecturer at the most respected Journalism School in Zimbabwe. That he writes for the Daily News is out of context because he is an academic, not a blind activist who is gullible.

  15. Chirau August 6, 2013 at 2:55 pm #

    Its about what the Herald and the Daily News have done, they are really the same in terms of their slants, I concur with Rusero.

  16. kasirori yeukai August 6, 2013 at 2:58 pm #

    Contributing to a paper is one thing, doing an analysis to it is another, well done Rusero, you are really a true analyst, no wonder why you cultivate all media landscapes in Zim despite extreme biases existing

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