Zimbabwe’s media has been commended for its improved reporting and coverage of the country’s harmonized elections held on 23 and 24 August 2023.
Officiating a post-election media Indaba in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second largest city, organized by the Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC), the Chief Director in the Ministry of Information, Publicity & Broadcasting Services, Dr Jonathan Gandari, applauded the media for objectively giving accurate accounts of events transpiring during the election period, keeping the electorate informed for decision making. An indaba is an important conference held by a multi-stakeholder group and community members to discuss pertinent societal issues.
The impact of the work done by the different stakeholders is quite visible for all to see… we saw an increase in balanced reportage and a genuine desire to uncover facts and relate them objectively
The event was attended by officials from the Ministry of Information, Publicity & Broadcasting Services, different political players, and media stakeholders.
Albeit the need to continue working towards balanced, equitable, transparent, objective, and peaceful reporting on elections, the media showed improvement in their reportage in 2023 compared to the previous election in 2018.
Prior to the elections, the Zimbabwe Media Commission partnered with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and other organisations to conduct election reporting trainings, reaching over 1000 key media stakeholders throughout the country. The trainings were enrichened by the Elections Reporting and Peace Building Manual produced by ZMC with technical and financial support from UNESCO, aimed at equipping media practitioners with the necessary knowledge and skills on reporting elections.
The Commission rolled out a nation-wide training programme based on the Election Reporting and Peace Building Manual which was part of its efforts to capacitate the media industry to cover the 2023 elections objectively and fairly.
During the Indaba, the Zimbabwe Media Commission presented certificates of appreciated to election reporting trainers for building the capacity of media professionals and other key election stakeholders in the build up to the August 2023 election. The certification accords the trainers the right to continue training the media on election reporting during the election cycle.
UNESCO Regional Adviser for Communication and Information, Al Amin Yusuph, in his remarks encouraged the media to uphold media ethics and standards throughout the electoral cycle because they are not an event but a process.
The media has a responsibility to continue to monitor and report on the implementation of the electoral promises and commitments, and to hold the elected officials accountable to the people. The media also has an opportunity to reflect on the successes achieved and lessons learned, so that more improvements can be made from now onwards into the next elections.
The second media Indaba was a buildup to the first pre-election Indaba held in Mutare in July 2023. The elections media capacity strengthening actions were conducted with support from the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Capacity Building Project: Strengthening media capacity for responsible election reporting (ZIM-ECO2) coordinated by UNDP. The project is implemented by UNDP, UNESCO, and UN Women with funding support from France and Japan.