Media should hold govt accountable

HARARE - The media should play a crucial role of positively engaging government and holding it accountable, University of Zimbabwe political scientist Eldred Masunungure has said.

Making a presentation on prospects for the future following the disputed election which saw Zanu PF scooping more than two thirds parliamentary representation, the Mass Public Opinion Institute (Mpoi) director said there was a desperate need for redefining the relationship between media and government especially after the coalition government.

“This redefining process will demand positive engagement with government but without being co-opted, but not abandoning the media’s role in society of speaking truth to power and the watchdog role,” Masunungure told an annual media stakeholders’ conference.

According to a Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe (VMCZ) study, Zimbabwe’s media is highly compromised to the point that journalists are now acting on behalf of politicians instead of keeping them in check.

“In the circumstances in which we are, specifically the decimation of organised opposition, it actually elevates the role of the media as an institution of countervailing power and horizontal accountability.

“And with the opposition on its knees, the media private or public needs to stand up and this does not require confrontation or capitulation, it requires positive engagement. With the gravely wounded opposition … will the media rise up to this expectation?,” asked Masunungure.

He said a one-party government was “dangerous” as arrogance and indiscipline are common features of such a political structure.

“I assert the role of the media will be more critical in a society with a de-facto one-party government. I take the media as an agency of horizontal accountability which should hold accountable the executive.
“Super majorities are dangerous for policy and the party itself. They cultivate a general rule, generate unilateralism in policy, and arrogance and indiscipline in the party.”

“Now the imperative within Zanu PF is to outdo the government of national unity,” said Masunungure.

Questions have however, been asked by journalists on whether the current restrictions on the fraternity would be lessened to make their jobs easier, especially where accessing information is concerned.

Zimbabwe’s media has been operating under “draconian” laws such as the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa), the Public Oder security Act (Posa) and the Broadcasting Services Act (BSA).

“There is need to amend the current media laws as they clash with the new charter. These inconsistencies are there and they should be amended,” David Tandiri, a lawyer with the Media Lawyers Network of Zimbabwe said.

VMCZ director, Takura Zhangazha said media regulations in Zimbabwe are undemocratic.

Comments (1)

How do youbexpect The Herald to abandon Zanu pf when interviews to work for the paper are done at Zanu pf headquarters?The only way to punish the paper is to boycott it,but sometimes one wants to laugh at the lies,so pplebend up buying it.

chovha - 7 September 2013

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