Yeukai Karengezeka Herald Correspondent
Government has discouraged the dissemination of fake news on media platforms as it results in panic among citizens. International Communications Services Director in the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Dr Ivanhoe Gurira, made the remarks yesterday during a public discussion forum on the impact of fake news and disinformation on society.
The event was organised by Perch Media and had panellists comprising Dr Gurira, Mr Cris Chinaka from ZimFact, Ms Koliwe Majama, a media consultant, and Ms Debra Katswe from Katswe Sisterhood.
Dr Gurira said it was the responsibility of media institutions to report issues based on facts and they should shun the habit of breaking unverified news.
“Fake news erodes the trust and confidence of citizens in the Government,” he said.
“The fake news also disturbs the democratic process of any nation and as such it should be eradicated.”
Dr Gurira said Government was putting mechanisms in place to ensure that information on social media and online platforms was regulated through the Cyber Security and Protection Bill, which will be gazette soon.
He said the ministry was developing a National Media Information Policy.
He said the new dispensation made tremendous efforts in disseminating information to the public through the introduction of post-Cabinet media briefings.
Journalists raised concern of some institutions such as Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority, which usually denounces social media claims of fuel price increases and few days later announce the same figures.
Mr Chinaka said there was need to educate the public on digital literacy.
“As Zimbabweans, we brag about being learned and literate, but in terms of digital literacy we are actually one of the worst people because we easily believe everything that is circulated on social media,” he said.
“Therefore, there is need to educate our people on how to use the internet and how to verify information before spreading it to others.”
Media practitioners recommended that Government allows licensing of more community radio stations and other channels of communication to increase official channels.