Concerns raised over Zimbabwe media bias
This is one of concerns raised by observers of this week’s general election, in particular the Electoral Commissions Forum of SADC countries (ECF-SADC).
While ECF-SADC said it was happy with the establishment of the Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC), meant to ensure that citizens enjoy fair and wide access to information among others, the body said the media was blatantly biased.
“The mission noted with concern the partisan and biased coverage given to some political parties and their candidates by both the public and private media,” ECF-SADC mission leader advocate Notemba Tjipuja told journalists at a press conference.
“This undoubtedly compromised the guiding principles of equality, equity and fairness,” said Tjipuja. Two daily newspapers, the Herald and Daily News stand out with taking political sides.
The Herald is a Zanu-PF mouthpiece, while the Daily News sings MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s praises.
Media analyst Alexandre Rusero, a lecturer at Harare Polytechnic College, told the Mail & Guardian that the Zimbabwean media failed to practice what it’s supposed to.
“The media is a yardstick to assess democracy in any country. Sadly in Zimbabwe we’ve got something completely different.” Rusero said the Zimbabwean media started wearing political colours after the formation of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in 2000, with the public media taking Zanu-PF’s side and private media largely sympathising with the opposition.
He said the Daily News was formed “exactly six months after the formation of the MDC”.
“The position of the Daily News is as good as the position of the Herald. In a normal media environment this should not be the case. Different views should mix and mingle in the media,” said Rusero.
While being biased is acceptable in other countries, Rusero said in Zimbabwe the media is so bad “to the extreme of peddling lies about a certain politician or party that’s opposing their chosen side. Here, the media is going beyond biasedness and is undermining the intelligence of readers, insulting the public.”
While the political battle continued in newspapers, there was no television competitor for the country’s public broadcaster Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC), which confidently takes Zanu-PF’s side. Read more in the Mail & Guardian.