Something interesting happened in Kadoma at the beginning of this week. Top representatives of the three main political parties met under one roof and for one and half days they discussed electoral issues openly without a single stone being thrown across the room. The meeting, organised by the Zimbabwe Institute in collaboration with the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, was aimed at discussing the contentious issues of “Elections and the Media”.
The three parties are the ruling Zanu PF, the Citizen Coalition for Change and the MDC-A. They were defined as the “major” political parties because of their representation in Parliament. The Zanu PF delegation was led by party spokesman Chris Mutsvangwa; the CCC by secretary-general Charlton Hwende and the MDC-A by Paurina Mupariwa. Each led a high powered delegation that included top leadership of the parties. War veterans were represented too; ably led by Douglas Mahiya. One would have literally expected fireworks but the discussions were surprisingly very civil and good humoured. One had the feeling, after it all, that Zimbabweans have more that unites them that divides them.
The Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Monica Mutsvangwa and her deputy Kindness Paradza professionally led the indaba and were listening to the concerns raised. Hwende, in presenting his party’s concerns began by reminding the gathering about President Mnangangwa’s oft quoted mantra that no one and no place should be left behind in anything. Of course there was a sting in the tail. He said his party the CCC was being left behind in the public media. He said as a huge section of the society and political space the opposition party also deserved to get air time on national radio and television.
This concern apparently was common among both opposition political parties in attendance. The minister and her deputy, one supposes, took heed of this and as the country moves towards the 2023 elections hopefully opposition political parties will get a fair share of the airwaves.
The media too had their issues with the political parties. The main one was to do with violence against journalists. It seems all parties have been found guilty of manhandling journalists trying to cover their events with some sustaining serious injury. This intolerance towards the media must stop, the journalists said. Veteran journalists John Masuku and Miriam Sibanda succinctly spelt out the expectations of the journalists and the etiquette they should abide by in order to avoid danger.
Kenyan journalist Linus Kaikai’s enlightening presentation showed that when concerted efforts are made it is possible to create rapprochement between political rivals and hence create a new Zimbabwe out of the chaos of the past. And, the media is critical in all this.
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