By Leonard Ncube
Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa has challenged the mainstream media to diligently play its informative role and protect citizens from being misled through social media.
There have been concerns about denigration of Government programmes on social media which President Mnangagwa writing in his weekly column published in The Sunday Mail and Sunday News, referred to as “an anti-development agenda on social media”.
Speaking during a tour of digitisation projects in Matabeleland North on Saturday, Minister Mutsvangwa urged the media to complement Government’s efforts towards ensuring universal access to information.
She was accompanied by her deputy, Cde Energy Mutodi, and secretary Mr Nick Mangwana when they toured Binga, Hwange, Kamativi and Kenmaur transmission sites on Friday and Saturday to assess progress.
“We can get there, but the media should be able to disseminate information for this goal to be achieved,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.
“With the advent of social media which exposes people to lies and misinformation, we need to fill the gap because if we don’t, people will always be misled.”
“Chiefs in Binga expressed concern over failure to receive local broadcasting, saying they are exposed to outside news and social media,” she said.
“This is a challenge to mainstream media and we are very conscious about it.”
Minister Mutsvangwa said partnerships were key to complete the digitisation programme which started in 2016 and slowed down because of foreign currency shortages.
“This has been a critical tour to us because as the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services we are mandated to disseminate information and be the lead agency,” she said.
“His Excellency has been clear that no one should be left behind, hence we started with Matabeleland North where there are areas that have been suffering from lack of access to information.
A total of $104 million in foreign currency is needed to complete the project and Minister Mutsvangwa said she had already lobbied Treasury for the funds.
“We feel a lot of money has been invested and cannot be allowed to lie idle,” she said.
“We should complete the project in the shortest possible time. People need to know what is happening and that Government is concerned about the economy.”
The migration from analogue to digital will see six new TV stations and 12 radio stations being opened.
Already, national radio stations are now reachable in Matabeleland North on a trial run.
The project involves construction of 24 new transmitters and upgrading of 24 existing ones.