Government has pledged to continue opening up to the media and engaging it to portray a good image of the country that all people will be proud of, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa has said. She said this during a familiarisation meeting with editors from the print media at her Munhumutapa Offices yesterday.
The meeting was also attended by her deputy Energy Mutodi, permanent secretary Mr Nick Mangwana, principal director Mr Regis Chikowore and directors Dr Anyway Mutambudzi and Dr Ivanhoe Gurira .
Minister Mutsvangwa said the ministry had seen the benefits of opening up the media.
“We are here to carry out the mandate and vision of President Mnangagwa. Our President has been very clear and consistent from last November when we had Operation Restore Legacy. We have seen the benefits of opening up the media and we would like to continue with that.
“We have also seen that in the last elections there was more progressive engagement and we want to continue with that. As a ministry and as a policy when we look at you, we are not looking at public or private media, but we are looking at editors of newspapers in Zimbabwe because what we are engaged with as a ministry is to make sure that we rebrand our country to become the Zimbabwe we all want.
“We need to remove the polarisation, which has been there in the country and even in the media. We have come to a point where we say what is it that we want as Zimbabwe?” she said.
“We will continue to promote Press freedom because we have seen the benefits and we do not need to go back; we are looking at AIPPA and we are saying who does it benefit? And we will be using a tail comb to brush off the legacies of that, which we do not want.
“We are here as Zimbabweans. What kind of a message do we want to package as Zimbabweans? What message do we want to give out there?
“We have a lot of children in the Diaspora and we have lost that generation, but we can’t continue to lose those children; what type of an image should we project so that those children out there would be proud to be Zimbabweans. Each one of you matters so much to us. We want to move together and build a Zimbabwe that we want,” she said.
“We are Zimbabweans so let’s move together. We have equal shareholding in this company called Zimbabwe. There is no one who is more special than the other,” she said.
Deputy Minister Mutodi expressed concern that some journalists were writing unbalanced stories by not giving the Government the right to reply.
He urged editors and journalists to report responsibly and seek Government comments to have balanced articles.
“The journalist writes and does not phone the minister for clarification until the final full stop. It is important for editors to seek the view of Government on allegations that other political parties will be making against it.
Responding to the issue of promoting media pluralism and issuing of licences to other media houses, Mr Mangwana said more television stations will be opened.
“We do not expect in future to have a conversation that ZBC did not feature a football match because it was featured by a sports channel owned by somebody else. That will fall away,” he said.
He applauded Zimpapers for its pluralism and accommodating different people in its radio programmes.
“Zimpapers has been a channel of pluralism. They have been objective and everybody has been there. Even the radio stations such as Star FM. The EU Observer Mission said it was one of the most objective channels.
“The accommodation of different voices has very little to do with the proprietor, the publisher or the editor and it has to do with us (editors) whether we can still bring in everybody on our channels. It’s us editors; it’s up to you to have that conversation with everybody, from the ministry’s point of view, we accommodate everybody and our door is open for everybody,” he said.
On their part, the editors expressed concern over the shortage of newsprint, social media abuse and Government communication, among other things.