By Hildegarde The Arena
Last month, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) was compelled by the Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) and the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) to ensure that all political parties and candidates receive equal coverage after the sitting of the Nomination Court on June 14.
ZEC chairperson Justice Priscilla Chigumba intimated: “The commission has written to the Zimbabwe Media Commission and the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe in line with Section 160 of the Electoral Act.
“The best time to ensure there is access to and equal coverage of all political parties by the media would be after June 14 when the commission knows who will be contesting.”
ZEC was not asking for the impossible, because the role of the media, in an electoral process cannot be underestimated.
A free and unbiased media is a catalyst to inclusivity that each election process strives for. Apart from providing voter education, the media also has watchdog and peace building roles.
While these expectations are for the local media, there is need to see how ZEC, political players, observer missions and other stakeholders view the participation of foreign media in the forthcoming electoral process. How far do they influence the process – be it positively and/or negatively?
Satellite television, the Internet, social media and other information, communication technologies have reduced the world into a global village, although it is a village governed by different laws and none whatsoever, in some cases.
A British-based consultancy company, Portland Communications, yesterday released a study – “The How Africa Tweets” that covers elections “held between June 2017 and May 2018 in Angola, Kenya, Egypt, Liberia, Equatorial Guinea, Senegal, Lesotho and Rwanda – as well as the self-declared Republic of Somaliland in northern Somalia.”
Zimbabwe is no exception to these “non-domestic voices” being major influences in the July 30 harmonised elections, but what this writer takes issue with is how they do it. Do these platforms make a deliberate effort for these “non-domestic voices” to influence the processes? Do the owners of these platforms want to expose their prejudices? Do they have a sinister agenda they are advancing?
The writer once again writes about the South African-owned satellite TV station Afro Worldview and the insensitive programmes about Zimbabwe that they continue to air. On June 7, I wrote about the TV station regarding their hosting of the foul-mouthed Tinashe Jonas, who claims to be the leader of a political outfit called Ideal Zimbabwe.
Why is Jonas so important to Afro Worldview and its broadcasting of the Zimbabwe narrative that this week on Tuesday, news anchor Lesego Mokonane once again spent an hour with him, as he spewed venom on the personalities of Zimbabweans?
What is the bigger story behind Jonas and Afro Worldview, who seems to have an attention seeking deficit disorder?
As a Zimbabwean national and professional, I continue to be amazed at how the former satellite TV channel ANN7, now Afro Worldview, seems to be making strenuous efforts to play devil’s advocate in Zimbabwe’s 2018 harmonised polls to be held on July 30.Just a few days ago, South African TV stations were apologising profusely for capturing a live event involving Black First Land First activists and an AfriForum personality because of the vulgar language used. When the footage was later replayed, all the uncouth language had been muted. Jonas is not, and has never been a player in the 2018 elections, but Afro Worldview believes otherwise, as it continues to invite him to make damaging and unsubstantiated claims about people whom they do not give a right of response. They invited him even after the violence he perpetrated against a Zanu-PF activist in the studio, during a live programme with the same anchor.
He called leaders from both the ruling party and the opposition: murderers, vampires, devils, gay, to mention but a few of the disparaging remarks?
Why should DStv get our hard-earned currency if they continue to host a TV station that is so anti-Zimbabwe, and a station that believes that the voices of thousands of intelligent Zimbabweans resident in South Africa are inconsequential, except of the outrageous Jonas? As a media house, what is Afro Worldview’s role in Zimbabwe’s election, and the prevailing peaceful environment?
Do they believe that they have a positive role to play, or they do not care who says what about Zimbabwe? Are they stoking some fires using Jonas? If the more than 15 personalities that Jonas called despicable names in his hate-filled ranting and raving were to sue, what then for the struggling media house whose paper Afro Voice collapsed a few weeks ago?
We hope the social media responses will make Afro Worldview rethink their tact on Zimbabwe. Below are a few responses that the writer took: Ndunankulu writing on his Twitter handle @nyatidumi remarked: “Such insults on a public media is uncalled for. Let dignity b preserved”; with Takunda Chawatama @BreezyT Raww saying, “You need to get real, does Tinashe Jonas pay you guys to be on ur show? The producer of the show needs to be serious. That Jonas dude is nuts!”
Bruce K @; Geo©þ @WejenaMafura responded: “If you invite the same calibre of activists who are a nonentity you lose your rating. Whoever is managing this station is not business minded.”
However, the media in any country does not exist in a vacuum. If a Zimbabwean broadcaster were to do the same: take a foreign national to say despicable things about his/her country, complaints would have been raised a long time ago.
The media industry has self-regulatory mechanisms through its own gate-keepers, who ensure that the profession is kept in good standing.
We have in each country editors’ platforms. In South Africa, there is the South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) while Zimbabwe has the Zimbabwe National Editors Forum (Zinef).
“We also have the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA); the Press Council of South Africa; African Media Barometer and other advocacy groups.
When Afro Worldview is drubbing journalistic principles and values in a manner witnessed by many viewers this week, who will stand up to speak for true journalism?
When Afro Worldview uses an unsuitable personality to comment on Zimbabwean affairs despite his claims that he is Zimbabwean, who will stop the madness?
Do we need a tragedy before Jonas is stopped insulting the people of Zimbabwe, irrespective of their political standing?
But the million dollar question is: What is Afro Worldview’s agenda regarding Zimbabwe’s forthcoming harmonised elections?