BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA/PRIVELEGE GUMODETE/SHARON BUWERIMWE
THE ruling Zanu PF party yesterday scoffed at the opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) complaints about a public media blackout ahead of the March 26 by-elections.
Zanu PF said the opposition party should conduct its campaigns on social media platforms.
Nelson Chamisa’s CCC has often accused the State media, particularly ZBC, of bias in favour of Zanu PF.
But Zanu PF political commissar Mike Bimha said ZBC was not the only campaign platform, urging the CCC to canvass for support on social media.
“ZBC is not the only channel of communication. We have so many channels of communication. And we also have social media and to me, there are limitless sources of disseminating information and singling out one source. I don’t think it’s fair,” Bimha told NewsDay.
“As a party, we want the media to talk about anyone who is in this game and there is no time that we have given instruction to ZBC to talk about us and us only. There haven’t been any instructions to any media house and ZBC for that matter to say that it should talk about us only.”
The CCC accuses the State media of abdicating its constitutional mandate to provide equal and fair coverage to all political parties.
Section 155 of the Constitution compels the State media to provide all political parties and candidates, contesting an election with fair and equal access to electronic and print media, both public and private.
Addressing a Press conference in Harare on Wednesday, CCC deputy secretary for elections Ellen Shiriyedenga challenged the State media to be non-partisan in covering political party events.
“We demand credible media reforms. Partisan State media reportage has to stop,” Shiriyedenga said.
CCC has also alleged increase in State-sponsored violence against its members ahead of the by-elections.
Yesterday, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said CCC activist Godfrey Karembera, popularly known as Madzibaba Veshanduko, was brutally assaulted by police for allegedly wearing the party’s yellow regalia.
Karembera is a prominent CCC supporter, who is always seen at rallies in yellow apostolic garments “anointing” party supporters.
Police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi could neither deny nor confirm Karembera’s arrest, saying: “If someone breaks the law, does it mean that they should not be arrested because they are political activists? In Zimbabwe, there are laws to be observed and followed. If someone does not want to get arrested they should not commit a crime.”
The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, in a report released on Tuesday, accused police of acting as an extension of Zanu PF to derail the CCC campaign momentum.
“Partisan policing of opposition political party rallies growing and disturbing trend has been observed in the run-up to the March 26 by-elections where police have been blocking CCC rallies while allowing Zanu PF and MDC Alliance to freely campaign,” the report read.
The opposition has also accused police of blocking its campaign rallies, over “flimsy excuses”, the latest being in Marondera on Sunday, Binga on Tuesday and Masvingo this coming Sunday.
In banning the Masvingo rally, police claimed that Zanu PF had already booked the venue and when the CCC chose an alternative, the law enforcement agents said it was too close and could cause inter-party clashes.
In a statement, the Election Resource Centre (ERC) said “police-led repression” undermined the crediblity of the upcoming polls.
“ERC has noted with grave concern the rising levels of police-led oppression and intimidation which are characterising political and campaign activities ahead of the 2022 by-elections,” ERC said.
In a recent report, the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute (ZDI) said State-sponsored violence targeting the opposition was being used as a strategy to tilt the electoral environment in favour of Zanu PF.
“The State-sponsored violence against the opposition shows the covert and overt manipulation of the electoral processes. This is a signpost revealing the nature and context within which the 2023 electoral processes will be conducted,” the ZDI said.
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