Citizens urged to nurture Zim's democracy, media

MUTARE - Media advocacy group Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) has urged public participation in the strengthening of the country’s fledgling democracy as well as supporting journalists with relevant and credible information to improve their watchdog role.

Misa Manicaland advocacy committee chairperson Kenneth Matimaire told a Mass Public Opinion Institute meeting recently that unless the public participated in governance, the democratic culture will not take root in the country that is emerging from a 37-year despotic rule.

“We need citizens that are engaged in the affairs in the governance of this country. This is very important for our democracy to take root and entrench as a culture.

“Democracy should be part of our DNA as citizens before it takes effect in the institutions that serve us. This is not also something that will be given to us by government as an institution but something we should work with in fostering,” Matimaire said.

He also said the media’s effectiveness as a watchdog was only as effective as the public’s support of its work.

“Let’s be practical in terms of our expectations of the media. Journalists do not manufacture news. It comes from you, so you have a role to play in what is published or heard.

“It is your duty to the nation to alert journalists on what will be happening and to make sure that they get accurate information of what would be happening if it is in the public interest,” Matimaire said.

He, however, said government should also on its part take the initiative to facilitate people’s participation to foster people’s ownership of its activities, adding that adoption of participatory governance practices can lead to more effective and equitable government.

“By creating opportunities for community residents to engage in public policy decision-making, governments can arrive at better policy solutions to complex problems, increase the accountability of elected officials, and meet the needs of the communities they serve with greater success,” Matimaire said.

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