Character assasination counters production

HARARE - There is no doubt that the media has become an integral part of human existence.

The right to correct information is as important as the right to life.

People need correct information to be able to make decisions affecting their lives and to make sense of the world.

As such, the media or those who have the privilege to publish or broadcast need to use the vital resource in a way that enhances and nourishes a society and not for purposes that dampen people’s morale or to use it to create confusion, anxiety and helplessness on the part of society.

For some “learned” fellows who frequent most news pages and television screens, it has become very fashionable to orchestrate character assassination campaigns on certain individuals and organisations.

In so doing some of these “learned” fellows seem gratified that they are doing a service to society, but one will ask what that service is and who is the loser or beneficiary?

In most cases the beneficiaries are non-existent and the losers are everywhere.

Sometime ago, then minister of Information and Publicity, the late Ambassador Tichaona Jokonya lamented the behaviour of certain media organisations when they went berserk week in week out in portraying a largely negative image of the country without even singling out anything positive.

He described the media as a “tool of mass destruction and character assassination”. Indeed he was correct as the media can be used for largely undesirable purposes all in the name of trying to outwit rivals in any sector and such character assassination can be very damaging to a country, individuals or institutions.

While some writers go on the overdrive to satisfy their personal egos, they defeat the whole essence of being Zimbabwean and African. If we take for example a person who professes to be a pan Africanist spends hectares of space in a Sunday paper castigating Beatrice Mtetwa and describing her as an alien.

It all confirms that the claim to be African and African pride is largely a utopian concept invoked for selfish convenient purposes.

If someone says Africans are proud people and then that discriminates on the basis of colonial identities then what makes them different from the colonialist themselves.

It becomes clear that in Africa, the concept of citizenship suffers from irreversible distortions that makes any claim of Pan Africanism null and void. The only criteria are the segregation of fellow black people. Are people in Swaziland not brothers and sisters to people in Zimbabwe?

If being black is being African why then do other people become aliens in African countries?

Events surrounding Beatrice Mtetwa and High Court Judge Charles Hungwe have aptly demonstrated how the media either as bark-dogs, attack-dogs or as lapdogs can orchestrate a sustained character assassination campaign with no evident winners but where everyone is an assured loser, a tragedy without a hero.

The country is getting a lot of attention for the wrong reasons because if a judge is appointed to such high office it means there is no doubt on the part of the appointing authorities and everyone has confidence in those judges.

But if all of a sudden one particular judge is portrayed as incompetent and unsuitable then will people have confidence in such institutions that are key in society?

The media might have succeeded in portraying an unsuitable version of that particular judge, but what about the whole institution of the judiciary? Writers should apply their minds first on the wider implications of what may seem to be mere personal attacks before putting pen to paper.

It also appeared as if the whole country can be brought to a standstill by just one woman as some writers went on the overdrive devoting four pages of editorial to a single person.

Is it an expression of fear or what?


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