Speaking on SFM today morning the Minister of Tourism, Cde Walter Mzembi, said “the media in this country is very poisonous”. Whilst I am sure the honorable minister was speaking in relation to the media’s contribution to the generally negative perception of Zimbabwe by the international community, the statement is also equally true when applied to the quality of information that we receive from our media houses- especially the state run ‘The Herald’.
Because it is election season the hypocrisy and deception is at an all time high and is expected to get higher as we approach the election day.
As a public broadcaster The Herald should try to operate in a non-partisan manner, give the people truthful information and fair and equal representation to all political parties. Whilst this is not strictly possible, it is expected that The Herald should behave reasonably, in a way that is consistent with journalistic ethics.
The Herald has dismally failed at this.
In an article in today’s edition, the chaos of the special vote that left thousands of police officers without voting and thereby exposed the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission’s (ZEC) unpreparedness was attributed to a secret plan by MDC to sabotage the electoral process. The article claims that the MDC had five strategies to sabotage the voting. Predictably all the “sources” are anonymous and no doubt the creation of a very imaginative mind.
The truth of the matter is that ZEC is trying to hold a rushed election without adequate money and preparation. Concerns have been raised before but they were ignored.
In another article titled “Drama as MDC-T supporters disown party candidate”, one Herald correspondent Noah Pito claims that at the MDC-T rally held in Mucheke stadium on Sunday Tsvangirai was left stunned after supporters booed him for imposing candidates and “Less than five out of the 26 House of Assembly candidates that were introduced to party MDC-T supporters before Mr Tsvangirai at Mucheke were applauded, while the crowd remained indifferent to the other candidates.”
This infuriates me because I was there. All the candidates for parliament – those who will actually be voted for- were loudly applauded though the loudest applause was for the Masvingo Urban, Central and West candidates – understandably so because they are the constituencies around Masvingo town.
To be fair there were some shouts of disgruntlement, but only for the six candidates for the women’s quota. These were not voted for, and to my knowledge no party held primary elections for the women’s quota.
All this in one edition.
The Herald seeks to deliberately misinform the people of Zimbabwe and therefore influence their choices as we approach this month’s elections.
The lies and distortions about opposition political leaders in particular Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai are malicious and divisive.
However those who seek to lie to and misinform the people of Zimbabwe should remember that in this age the internet makes it very difficult. Ordinary people will report on rallies, meetings and other events in real time. Pictures and videos can be captured and shared by mobile devices.
There are also other alternative newspapers which, though they may be biased, try to be objective.
Too much propaganda works adversely. People quickly tire of lies and outlandish claims and seek alternative sources.
Few will drink from Herald’s poisoned chalice.