via Media now sober | The Herald November 2, 2013 by Makomborero Mutimukulu
Zanu-PF’s resounding victory during the July 31 elections has sobered the country’s media industry, which for years has been polarised along political lines, Secretary for Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Mr George Charamba has said. In a no-holds barred address at a post-elections media workshop convened by the Southern African Research and Documentation Centre in Harare yesterday, Mr Charamba highlighted that Zimbabwean media, across titles, is presently fumbling for editorial direction.
This, he added, comes at a time when the Zanu-PF Government is forging ahead with efforts to empower the people with such initiatives such as the soon to be launched the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation economic blue print.
Local media has an unhealthy fixation with elections and politics, said Mr Charamba.
“For some, Zanu-PF is the beginning and the end.
“For some the MDC is the beginning and the end.
“For some elections are the beginning of the end. When you look at 2008 and you thought Zanu-PF is the beginning and the end then surely 2008 would have been the day that journalism died isn’t it?
“If you thought MDC was the beginning at the end of the July 31 elections then journalism died and if you thought elections are the beginning at the end then you don’t know where you are.
“My biggest point is the media tends to locate itself on the transient.
“What do you do when the people have voted this party in and this party out?
“In other words what happens to a corked gun long after the target has fallen?
“That basically, in figurative terms, is what you guys (media) are facing,” he said.
Mr Charamba added that the media urgently needed to do away with its fixation with elections and politics.
Instead, the media should start indentifying itself with issues that readers, viewers and listeners care most about as failure to do so would see some media houses continuing to be out of sync with developments in the country and subsequently closing shop.
He said the media needed to rally together and come up with strong positions on issues such as the importation of newsprint, relationship with the advertising industry and the remuneration of journalists, among others.
Mr Charamba said the ministry of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services was in the process of engaging all the country’s media houses after discovering that the ‘‘political trials of the country have stood in the way of a clinical, scientific analysis of the information sector.
“It has been very easy to dodge key issues affecting your industry by simply mouthing political complaints. Fortunately for us we have a result and that result has sobered all of us. Now we can now look back and say how do we shape an information sector in this country?
“You cannot shape an information sector from a position of partisanship,” he said.
Mr Charamba noted that the tour of media houses conducted by officials from his ministry led by the minister Professor Jonathan Moyo has seen some quarters seeking to create mistrust between the Government and the media.
“Some are saying let’s test Jonathan Moyo . . . well I have news for you. You won’t find him there, he has since moved.
“We are on the verge of a new dawn in the media industry and those who earn a living from creating tension between the Government and the media will soon be leading miserable lives,” he said.
In her address at the same workshop Zimbabwe Electoral Commission vice chairperson Mrs Joyce Kazembe conceded that the media was polarised in the run up to the July 31 elections but expressed confidence that the situation would have changed for the better the next time the country heads for polls.
The workshop was attended by journalists, Sardc officials and members of ZEC.