AMH is an independent media house free from political ties or outside influence. We have four newspapers: The Zimbabwe Independent, a business weekly published every Friday, The Standard, a weekly published every Sunday, and Southern and NewsDay, our daily newspapers. Each has an online edition.

Media team letting down President

Opinion & Analysis
President Emmerson Mnangagwa

GOOD day President Emmerson Mnangagwa,

Your Excellency, as I see it, the communication practitioners who disseminate information from your office do not seem to know where they fit in the scheme of politics, power and governance.

Consequently, they have a credibility and proficiency deficit. Methinks you were spot on when you raised concern over their low competence recently. It is apparent that their dearth of decorum leaves a lot to be desired.

I was impressed by your speaking out. Oftentimes I have restrained myself from drawing your attention to the need for resourcing them. I heartily compliment you for initiating  the discourse. It appears to me as if communication is not their calling.

Your Excellency, I was avoiding the risk of being misconstrued as intending to supplant fellow communicators that I held back. Now, given that you publicly rued their want of proficiency, you inadvertently made it possible for me to air my sincere thoughts.

Although your specific concerns might not dovetail with mine, they nonetheless usher me into the arena to discuss a topic that I subscribe to dearly.

Your Excellency, from where I stand, it is my profound conviction that it is beyond the scope of a communication practitioner in your office to threaten to arrest journalists. It is abuse of privilege. It diminishes the standing of your office in the estimation of citizenry.

It was a wanton stray from diligence when the communicator issued the chilling threat to cause the arrest of any journalist who reports on the ongoing documentary, Gold Mafia: The Laundry Service. Methinks his unilateral declaration amounts to a wilful act that brings disrepute to the Presidency.

Duly, such untoward conduct results in credibility gaps in the highest office in the land. There have been several incidents in which your communication practitioners presented themselves as haughty. They have displayed utter lack of professionalism.

Granted, it is not within their purview as public servants to belittle the opposition. Yet, they periodically meddle in politics, oftentimes making denigrating remarks about proponents of alternative views to those of government.

Your Excellency, it was rank arrogance for key members of your communication staff to have the audacity to storm out of a debate that was being livestreamed. It suffices to draw their attention to the transcendent wisdom of critical thinker, Francis Bacon.

Speaking about social responsibility in general, and communication professionalism in particular, Bacon stated: “I hold every man a debtor of his profession from which men of course do seek to receive countenance and profit, so ought they of duty to endeavour themselves by way of amends to be a help and ornament thereunto.”

Yet, it is apparent that your team is not a debtor to its profession. Although it seeks to receive countenance and profit, it is not of help, neither is it ornamental. It is startling that it took you moons to make an observation of the dearth in their ethical conduct.

Your Excellency, it is long overdue for your communication team to  be fine-tuned. It is imperative for them to desist from the tendency of resorting to pious platitudes. It would be largely beneficial to society if they were to hasten to attain professionalism.

There is a lot to be gained by adhering to ethical standards. Methinks there must be an earnest search by the practitioners themselves for thorough knowledge, diligence and expertise.

It is a basic requirement for any profession, moreso communication, to adhere to not only a strict code of conduct, but of ethics as well. Each practitioner ought to be driven by self-consciousness to conduct themselves orderly, with accuracy and in truth.

It is incumbent upon practitioners to note that professionalism is earned through being proficient. As late former United States President Theodore Roosevelt noted: “Everyone owes some part of their time to the building up of their industry or profession of which they are a part of.”

Your Excellency, the attitude  of your communication team is largely a reflection of the hostility you oftentimes exhibit towards the opposition. It must be underscored that all the words you speak and how you speak them, have a domino effect on the shaping of the communication culture of your office. Or maybe you have been so hypnotised by your team’s eye-popping ineptitude that you are now mirroring them.

While it is common knowledge that you cannot always see eye to eye with the opposition, it is, however, imperative that you, as a Statesman, disagree with them honourably, with respect and consideration for their perspectives. It builds mistrust in government if it constantly speaks dismissively of the opposition.

A military supremo, General Omar Brandley, has influenced the building of cordial understanding between successive generations of leaders with their publics. His presage goes: “No organisation so directly concerned with the public interest can hope to escape the effects of popular opinion, nor can personnel do their best work without adequate knowledge of where they fit in.”

Your Excellency, as I see it, your communication team lacks the  knowledge and expertise to fit in the apolitical category. It must be responsive to the citizenry it was created to judiciously serve with accurate and timely information.

Cyprian Muketiwa Ndawana is a public-speaking coach, motivational speaker, speechwriter and newspaper columnist. He writes here in his personal capacity.

Related Topics