Media reforms imperative

HARARE - The servile media have upped the ante in propaganda over the past few weeks.
To speak of “State-controlled media” is, of course, charitable when such media invariably serve the interests of a single political party.

In recent weeks, we have been told Western nations have been “stampeding” to normalise relations with Zimbabwe.

This, of course, smacks of delusions of self-importance on the part of Zanu PF. Such reports draw from recent visits like Andrew Young’s, whose trip may simply have been cleared by the US administration out of official etiquette.

Andrew Young, a former US ambassador to the UN, is no longer part of the US administration. He is reported to have apologised to Zimbabwe. Firstly, Young does not speak for the US government.

And poring over the text, nothing remotely suggests an apology for the sanctions imposed by the US.

In any case, Zidera, the US sanctions regime on Zimbabwe, remains in place.

And Young cannot lift them. The US Congress can.

The “stampede” rhetoric has been further fuelled by the recent visit to the UK by three government ministers, including Patrick Chinamasa.

If Zimbabwe, or Zanu PF to be precise, was experiencing a “stampede”, then one would think UK government ministers would visit to plead with Zimbabwe or Zanu PF, and not the other way round.
Instead, three ministers travelled to the UK — Patrick Chinamasa having to be cleared for the trip — only to be attended to by a junior minister.

If anything, it appeared more like little kids being summoned to the office of a headmaster. So if three whole ministers fail to draw the attentions of equivalents, you can easily read the attitude of the UK authorities.

The truth is, no official in the Western nations is losing sleep because they do not have relations with Zimbabwe. Zanu PF better get that straight.

It needs to shape up; if the next elections do not meet international standards or continues to violate citizens’ rights, Zimbabwe will face international retribution.

If sanctions have adverse effects as it claims, Zanu PF will have noone to blame for the continued isolation and the economic repercussions.

As I said last week, Zanu PF needs to exorcise itself from delusions about absolute sovereignty in this increasingly interconnected world.

If it wins and rules again, it will need to ensure it is a full member that abides by the rules of the community of nations if Zimbabwe is to enjoy the benefits of international co-operation.

If the servile press are to be believed, Zanu PF will indeed win.

Apart from contested survey results, such prediction has, however, come from anyone.

If some new organisation has been struggling for publicity, the time to enhance its profile is probably now.

All that such “organisation” needs to do is assert that Zanu PF will win the next election; the “organisation” is sure to gain itself some column inches in the servile press.

The other day I read that The Guardian, the “establishment newspaper” in the UK, had also predicted a Zanu PF win.

I can only think that the local servile press thought it had found an ally.

However, The Guardian is remotely an “establishment” newspaper both in terms of ownership and editorial stance. If anything, it is Left-leaning and a leading critic of the current centre-right Tory government.

UK newspapers do not worship governments of the day for the obvious reason that governments have to be held to account for the good of the nation.

If there is a case to be made for media reforms in Zimbabwe, the evidence to support such move tends to show in the current pre-election period. The bias is odiously overt.

Media reforms are imperative, now or in the future. Our neighbours have moved forward, with diverse and flourishing print and media sectors.

It is wrong for a party to manipulate so-called “State media” for political benefit, suppress privately-owned media through draconian laws and also stifle media growth.

Governments should simply have no business in the media; they can compete for media space like any other institution in society.

The business of government is to govern; that includes facilitating free media. - Conrad Nyamutata

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