Give all parties equal public media access

HARARE - Information minister Simon Khaya Moyo was on Wednesday dodgy when asked what government policy is regarding coverage of independent or opposition political parties by the public media during this election campaign season.

The minister, who was repeatedly asked the same question by different legislators as he tried to evade it, could not give a satisfactory answer, instead opting to tell the august House that the issue can only be resolved when President Emmerson Mnangagwa meets opposition political parties.

Khaya Moyo told the concerned legislators: “ . . . I want to remind all of us that it has recently been announced that . . . the president will be meeting all leaders of political parties.

“This is where we want to thrash out the issue that the . . . Member has raised. What I can assure you is that there will be openness and people will have access to the media in all forms.

“Certainly, we must all agree that freedom also goes with responsibility and therefore I believe that when the time comes, whoever takes to the airs will also be cognisant of the fact that he or she has got a responsibility because there is no freedom which is just free and therefore entertaining any form of irresponsibility…”

From the response, you could see that the minister was running away from the question because the coverage of other political parties on ZBC and other public media outlets does not need Mnangagwa to first have a meeting with the opposition.

The operating parameters for the public media when it comes to covering other political parties is well spelt out in the national Constitution and nowhere does it point to the fact that the president is the one who gives the go ahead for public media to commence opposition coverage.

The public media should already be covering other political actors like it is doing to Zanu PF officials and rightly so as one legislator pointed out in a follow-up to the debate.

“Whenever we view television, we see the same thing like what happened during the time of Dr Amai Mugabe, the same is now prevailing.”

I wouldn’t agree more with the legislator for indeed the ZBC; especially television, is giving acres of space to Mnangagwa and his wife like it used to do with former president Robert Mugabe and his wife, Grace. And it is sad, especially coming as it is during “the new dispensation” when we are supposed to be doing things right!

And the legislators had another bone of contention; licensing of genuinely independent radio and television stations.

Another concerned legislator said: “ . . . I just want to check with the minister what government policy on the issuance of a radio licence is. A few weeks ago, ZBC opened a new radio station in Bulawayo and I am sure it is not lost to us in the opposition that this is yet another Zanu PF mouth-piece . . . ”

The public media capture by the ruling Zanu PF over the years has eroded all the trust that Zimbabweans have in ZBC to the extent of others actually thinking that the former liberation party owns the entities.

It is sad that even after Mugabe’s departure, Zanu PF officials — including Mnangagwa and the First Lady — continue to dominate television programming.

And Zimbabweans are right to think that actually ZBC is a Zanu PF entity.

Khaya Moyo, however, denies his party owns a radio or television station. “ . . . as far as I know, there is no party which owns a radio or television station.

“If there is, I would want to see that evidence because I do not think they are allowed, if at all it is used as a national instrument to favour one side. I would want to see if there is any proof to that effect . . . ”

 

Comments (1)

To expect a straight answer from a guy who is lucky to still have a govt job is to expect too much. Why does he want to lecture opposition parties about? irresponsibility? Who in this govt was responsible enough to argue with RGM when he was destroying the economy? Noone in this gov should be lecturing opposition parties on anything, they wanted Bob & his gangsters gone at least 20 years ago.

Sagitarr - 29 March 2018

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