via Battle of wills for control of media | The Zimbabwean 2 July 2014 by Zara Mhofu
The state control of the media and suppression of the free press form part of the battle in the on-going war for a democratic Zimbabwe. This is a battle of wills between those who believe in democratic values and those who believe democracy is an enemy of the state and that its values belong to white, western outsiders and are a threat to the freedom of the Zimbabwean people.
The situation has been in deadlock for the last 14 years at least; the political elite and their social entourage have openly demonstrated their contempt for the wishes of the people. During that time we have protested with our words and our feet- but in the end we are unwillingly complicit in the violation of our homeland. Our actions have failed to bring significant change to our political landscape.
This is a war of attrition between the loud and thunderous powers that be and the whispering masses. It is redefining our national identity. Almost paradoxically, in this stagnant position, we have found stability.
Our political system is stable; we have a long-term one party state with clearly identifiable strategies that have been and will continue to be implemented fastidiously for the foreseeable future. In refusing to uphold democratic values, the ruling elite has deemed the people subhuman; we do not qualify for human rights.
Our leaders have demonstrated that they do not respect our individual and collective rights: our education system has been dismantled; free and fair elections remain rather a facet of socio-political debate than a certainty, coupled with fearful memories of torture and inhuman treatment.
We are complicit in this dehumanising by failing to change this reality, or in some cases, by actively joining the ruling elite to extend its reach and longevity. It is here that we have all sanctioned the betrayal of our ideals, families and future.
Battle of words
Each element of peaceful protest we the people have employed has been countered and supersized by the state; media, activism, and resources on a scale that cannot be undermined.
For those without jobs, money for education, food for their families, or shoes and clothes for their children, it must feel very much a battle of words and nothing more. However, it has not escaped the general population’s attention that the omnipotent elite is experiencing something of an on-going internal crisis.
If only this Jukwa fellow would just go away! But he has lingered too long and something must now be done.
At first, the arrest of journalists in the throes of what appears to be a conspiracy against the ruling party seems like business as usual. But I urge you to look closer. Hacks at the helm of state-controlled media are also being arrested for allegedly attempting to sow divisions within ZANU-PF.
Is this an admission by default that the inner machinations of the ruling party are indeed in cataclysmic battle as we see the mighty strike out at its own shadow? Yes, the cage has been rattled and the extent of fear and paranoia has been laid bare for the nation to see. Perhaps this war of words is not as fruitless as it can sometimes feel. We should take hope and inspiration from these events.
It is the job of journalists and commentators to keep the nation informed and analyse events, not to coordinate the ruling party’s social or strategic propaganda; for this we have the Ministry of Media, Information and Publicity.