Saturday, July 13, 2024
HomenewsWATCH:Reformed media a plus for poll coverage

WATCH:Reformed media a plus for poll coverage

The Chronicle

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Nqobile Tshili, [email protected]

THE liberalisation of airwaves under the Second Republic is a game changer in enhancing the holding of free and fair elections as political parties are spoilt for choice on the medium to use when campaigning ahead of polls, a senior Government official has said.

Since  2017, a total of 14 community radio stations and six commercial television stations have been licensed, in a departure from the past when the State heavily controlled the airwaves.

Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Deputy Minister Kindness Paradza said this while addressing media stakeholders and representatives from political parties on the coverage of elections during a two-day workshop ending today in Bulawayo.

The Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services in collaboration with the Zimbabwe Institute organised the workshop. Deliberations were made on how the media can improve coverage of elections ahead of the forthcoming harmonised polls slated for August 23.

“This election is not going to be held under those hostile conditions, which were there before 2018. We are going to hold these elections in a free and fair environment. Why am I saying that? Because we have reformed the media,” he said.

“The Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) is no longer there. We are now going to have the Freedom of Information Act.

“Yes, we had the Media and Information Commission, which was abused to some extent but now we have a properly constituted Zimbabwe Media Commission, which is working in a professional manner,” said the Deputy Minister Paradza. 

“So, because of that arrangement, I’m sure we are going to see a different attitude from our international election observers in terms of the behaviour of the media industry because we now have so many outlets in terms of radio and in terms of television.”

Deputy Minister Paradza said he was confident that the observer missions will have a different view on media access ahead of the coming polls.

He said this time around the major concern is that opposition parties are not forthcoming to be interviewed by the public media.

“Our journalists are struggling to get comments from opposition candidates. Some are refusing to talk; they would say talk to Mahere (Fadzai Citizen Coalition of Change spokesperson) or Ostallos (Siziba, her deputy),” he said.

“We have been encouraging them to say this is the election season and it’s your time and within the law and you must at least talk about your manifestos.”

Deputy Minister Paradza said when the Zanu- PF Government is seen having a huge coverage on the national broadcaster, it is because, unlike the opposition, it is communicating about the works it is already doing.

“Manifestos are more of a wish-list and is therefore different to what we have done as Government. What we have as Government is a compendium of projects that are at district, provincial and national level. 

dfx fbnm Lake Gwayi-Shangani

“So, what the  Second Republic is doing is just ticking boxes when it comes to projects such as Lake Gwayi- Shangani and Harare-BeitBridge road for example and it’s now up to you as journalists to interrogate the wish list versus reality,” he said.

Deputy Minister Paradza said there are 32 radio and four commercial television stations in the country that political parties can engage to communicate their messages. He said the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has even partnered  with community radio stations to spread information on electoral processes.

“They are using those radio stations for voter education apart from national radio stations, apart from provincial radio stations. This is to make sure that  our citizens have information and this time around the situation is different to what it was prior to 2018. We also have campus radio stations and now we have four more television stations that are on air,” said Deputy Minister Paradza.

deputy minister Kindness Paradza Deputy Minister Kindness Paradza

Deputy Minister Paradza said journalists should remain professional while executing their duties and avoid being involved in political activism. 

Speaking during the same event, Bulawayo police spokesperson Inspector Abednico Ncube, who was representing the police said under the Second Republic there is increased cooperation between the police and journalists.

“It’s a fact that before the advent of the Second Republic, there was acrimony between the Zimbabwe Republic Police and the media,” he said.

“The Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Service, Zimbabwe Media Commission and media bodies such as the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists, Media Institute Southern Africa, Media Alliance, and the Zimbabwe National Editors Forum have been pivotal in building good relations between the ZRP and the media,” he said.

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