Cletus Mushanawani in Mutare—
Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Dr Chris Mushohwe has urged the media to portray a positive image of the country to help attract more investors. Addressing a Zanu-PF Manicaland youth inter-district conference at Marymount Teachers’ College on Sunday, Dr Mushohwe said it was disheartening to note that most of the companies leading in demonising Zanu-PF were enjoying brisk business from State-owned enterprises and parastatals.
“When I was appointed Minister of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services six months ago, I took time to learn media operations in the country, looking at all the headlines of the stories published. I realised that 99 percent of the headline stories especially in the private media were attacking the First Family and I invited editors of all media houses for a meeting on February 25.
“After meeting the editors, I met the chief executives and one of them said their headlines were a disgrace to the nation. I also had a frank discussion with the publishers where we explained to them that although the Constitution provides for freedom of expression and association, these were not for newspapers only, but for everyone. We expected cooperation from the media in telling the actual Zimbabwe story, but that is not what we are getting,” said Dr Mushohwe.
He added: “What is being published is having a negative effect on the country’s image. Investors are shunning the country because of what they are getting in the media. We are left with no option, but to act and correct the misrepresentation of the prevailing situation on the ground.”
Dr Mushohwe said Government was prepared to work harmoniously with all media houses that co-operate with the establishment.
“Most of the media houses generate almost 60 percent of their businesses from State-owned enterprises and parastatals through advertisements and subscriptions. You can imagine what will happen to these companies if Government-owned enterprises boycott doing business with them for just five days. These companies will surely collapse and they should not force us to take that route,” he said.
Dr Mushohwe also warned party cadres to desist from being moles of the private media.
“During our meetings with the media managers, it emerged that some of us in Cabinet and Politburo are the moles leaking information to the media and that should be corrected.
“My ministry is responsible for disseminating Government information and all line ministries should inform us of their activities first before they are released to the public to avoid contradictions on policy issues,” said Dr Mushohwe.
Turning to the ongoing digitisation programme, Dr Mushohwe, said it was progressing on very well with employment opportunities being created in the process.
“The digitisation of our airwaves will see the creation of 12 new television channels. Six of the channels will be opened for private investors. So far we have engaged 33 engineers and they are all youths. As you are aware that we have new players in the broadcasting industry like Diamond FM here in Mutare, our policy is that those recruited like DJs should be youths from that particular area. I am happy with the progress made so far at Diamond FM and I think most of you here who have had an opportunity to listen to its programmes will agree that the station has potential to grow to be a force to reckon with.
“We want our children to benefit from the digitisation programme. Youths should also be active content producers because they are the majority,” he said.
When it comes to coverage of youth programmes, Dr Mushohwe said: “You should not rush to blame the media for not covering your programmes. Are you doing the right thing in informing the media houses about your programmes on time? We have district and provincial information officers in all the provinces and you should make use of them to link you up with media houses.
“There is no deliberate policy of shunning youth programmes because it is your duty to inform the media about your programmes. “You should not rush to point accusing fingers at the media when you keep your programmes under wraps.
“There is no need of confronting media houses over alleged biased or partisan coverage because you should follow the properly laid-down channels.”