Media reforms a must before elections


The issue of media reform has once again resurfaced, as State media continue with its skewed coverage, which is in favour of the ruling Zanu PF.

Why this is an issue to this day beggars belief, as the Constitution, adopted five years ago is quite clear on the operations of State media.

This is something that should have long been sorted ago and speaks to a government that has no political will to reform the media sector.

No doubt, Zanu PF is benefiting from the one-sided coverage and are loathe to implement any reforms.

Elsewhere in this edition, there are opinion pieces that reveal how scathing election observer missions were about the obvious bias in State media, particularly ZBC.

It is embarrassing that the same observer missions will troop back in a few weeks’ time and find the issues that they spoke about yet to be addressed.

The purpose of these observer mission reports is to commend the good and point out flaws in the hope that these will be addressed when the next election comes along.

Sadly, in Zimbabwe’s case, at least when it comes to the media, the country learnt nothing and is perpetually repeating past mistakes, a clear sign of lack of growth.

A free media is at the centre of any democracy, with the public media expected to serve everyone regardless of party affiliation, but in Zimbabwe’s case ZBC has been woeful and has failed to serve the country’s needs.

Time has come to remove ZBC from the clutches of government and make it a truly representative broadcaster, catering for all Zimbabweans.

Failure to do that will mean every election cycle becomes farcical, as one party can campaign continuously for five years on public television and radio, while others are given a token month or so to try and reach out to the electorate.

ZBC management have no reason to be reporting to the Information ministry, but an independent board should be set up, to create a buffer between the broadcaster and the government.

Zanu PF should not be seen to be the only party that is given airtime, but every party should be given equal access to the broadcaster, without partisan programming.
The ruling party’s stranglehold on information through State media houses speaks of a paranoid party, that is afraid of letting people express themselves and does so by controlling what the watch or listen to.

This is mentality of the Cold War and has no place in a country that is desperate to get a seat at the table of progressive nations.