The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has censored the State media for giving too much space to Zanu PF at the expense of opposition political parties.
Speaking at a workshop held for journalists in Chinhoyi last week, Dr Qubani Moyo, a ZEC commissioner said that the State media was being unfair to opposition parties by giving too much coverage to Zanu PF.
Dr Moyo who is the ZEC spokesperson was presenting a paper on Electoral Dispute Resolution and one of the major disputes has been inequitable media coverage.
Dr Moyo said because of the skewed coverage, ZEC was inundated by complaints from different quarters. He said while it happens all over the world that sitting Governments receive more coverage, this should not be at the expense of opposition parties.
Asked by one of the journalists attending the workshop on what ZEC is doing about the problem, Dr Moyo said the Commission’s mandate to monitor the media only starts when the President promulgates the elections. Outside that period ZEC cannot do anything, he said.
He however, said that ZEC was going to engage the Zimbabwe Media Commission and the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe over the matter.
Patience Zirima who heads an NGO involved in media monitoring concurred with Moyo and said that the State media which is mainly ZBC and Zimpapers are in contravention of the Constitution of Zimbabwe when they sideline opposition parties in their coverage.
“The public broadcaster stands guilty of giving too much space to the ruling party, not only in Zimbabwe but in most countries. There should be fair coverage of all political parties during the election period. We have witnessed situations where some political players are very thin on content and lack personnel to tackle issues in the media even if they get the opportunity, all the same we call upon fair coverage of all players.
“In 2018 the public media was very much biased towards Zanu PF and we had serious problems with that as we received so many complaints from stakeholders,” said Dr Moyo.
“There was a lot of bias towards Zanu PF in 2018. The ruling party got 90% of the coverage while opposition parties only got 10%. This is problematic because the Constitution says public media must report in a fair and equitable manner.
“Women’s voices were also much lower although this could be attributed to the low number of women who participated as candidates in the 2018 elections. Going forward in 2023 we hope to see increased plurality, diversity of coverage of the different groups and political parties in the country and this will provide an environment that is much fairer and equitable,” said Zirima. Masvingo Mirror