Munyaradzi Musiiwa Midlands Correspondent
INFORMATION, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Dr Christopher Mushohwe yesterday warned the media that while Government supported freedom of expression, it did not tolerate its abuse for political or factional interests.
Dr Mushohwe was officially launching 98.4 FM Midlands in Gweru when he made the remarks.
“Let me take this opportunity, ladies and gentlemen, to reiterate that as Government we support freedom of expression as enshrined in our Constitution. In the same vein, I would want to caution our friends in the media, both electronic and print, that while it is a right it is not a licence to propagate hate speech and spreading unsubstantiated and malicious stories about our country. The electronic, print and social media should not be used as an arsenal or battleground for political or factional battles,” he said.
Dr Mushohwe also warned politicians against abusing the media, including social media platforms, to pursue selfish or factional agendas.
“I want to remind you that radio, television and other media platforms should know that their role is exclusively to inform, entertain, educate and not, as I have said, be used as whips by political gladiators. Anything to the contrary is unacceptable,” he said.
Dr Mushohwe said the media must not be used to sow disharmony as this can lead to civil wars reminiscent of the Rwandan 1994 genocide.
“Radio can be used to build or to destroy societies if its use is left unguarded. During the build-up and execution of the Rwandan genocide, radio was used as a tool of propaganda to communicate and instil hate for the Tutsi minority.
“Up to one million people died during the genocide in which radio was blamed for playing a key role in inciting the mass slaughter. It is clear that the media, radio in particular, can be used to create disharmony and in worst cases it can be used to exterminate whole populations as witnessed in Rwanda. This must not be tolerated in Zimbabwe and elsewhere,” he said.
Dr Mushohwe said Government had licensed 10 radio stations over the past five years which are all operational.
“As Government we are pleased to note that the eight regional stations have started full stream broadcasting. In total over the last five years, 10 radio stations have been opened either at regional or national level. This has provided Zimbabweans with platforms to enjoy their rights such as freedom of expression,” he said.
Dr Mushohwe said Government was working on the digitisation process that would enable growth in local content creation and allow broadcasters to operate at par with global players.
“Government, through my ministry, is about to complete the digitisation process. The completion of the digitisation process is set to benefit the nation through more employment opportunities and the growth in local content creation since as Government we have stipulated a 75 percent local content policy among broadcasters. As Government, we strongly believe that the digitisation process shall allow our broadcasters operate at par with global players,” he said.