via Leave the media alone by Tanonoka Joseph Whande | SW Radio Africa October 28, 2013 by Tanonoka Joseph Whande
I am amused by what has been said by those in charge of information in Zimbabwe, particularly those from government and the ruling party.
Their supremo, Jonathan Moyo, “promised to bridge the gap between government and the private media, saying it was time to let bygones be bygones”.
At least, he admits to attempted murder of the media in Zimbabwe.
“Polarisation hasn’t been in anyone’s interest, yourselves, ourselves or business. Of course, when we engage it does not mean we will agree on everything. However, at the end of the day, we should be able to agree on certain aspects and in that process, find each other,” he said.
That is a very bad start indeed, for we do not need to agree on anything. The only thing we should agree upon is for government to leave the media alone.
Government has no business telling the media what to print and for that reason, a so-called Ministry of Information should concern itself with making sure that people get information, not manufacture or control information.
Jonathan Moyo has a lot of work to do and should not bother about bridging the gap, whatever that means.
If he wants to deal with the media and remove what he terms as polarization, he should bring media practitioners on to an equal footing by removing the laws he, himself, instituted during his last stint as Minister of Information.
If he wants to engage the media as equals, he must go back to his bosses and remove the AIPPA and POSA laws that continue to oppress the media.
Only equals can negotiate; only equals can make a deal and for him to spout all this nonsense when the media in Zimbabwe is working under the draconian laws he imposed is a vile attempt to make people think he has changed.
He can go hang.
Moyo must survey the damage he caused in his overzealousness to please his masters; he must acknowledge the destruction he caused before urging a truce. He is the one who attacked the media and tried to destroy it.
Having failed to do that, he now comes back and urges us to end the polarization.
Was it the media that caused the polarization?
In the last several days, a Member of Parliament has urged government to eavesdrop on people’s cellphones, saying that is the best way to fight terrorism.
A chief has stood up in the Senate and demanded that something be done about the flow of communication using the proprietary, cross-platform instant messaging subscription service commonly known as WhatsApplication.
It’s his way to fight pornography.
The Chairman of the Zimbabwe Media Commission, Henry Muradzikwa, recently told journalists during a media workshop that “the pathetic media situation in the country needs urgent attention”, saying that the liberty of individuals is downgraded to licensing.
Then there is Supa Mandiwanzira, a Deputy Minister of Information, armed with such a license of his own, going on the war path, declaring his intention to fight for the closure of what he called “pirate radio stations” broadcasting to Zimbabwe.
Mandiwanzira’s way of bridging the gap is to issue as many radio licences as possible. To him, that is the kind of diversity that will put other radio stations out of business. He is concerned about the number of radio stations, not content; he wants to control what people say and hear. That, to him, is diversity.
Oh, dear me; now I know why we have mental homes everywhere.
For many years, these external radio stations have been and continue to be the only source of independent and accurate news in Zimbabwe, given the government’s tight control of the media.
In 2009, ZANU-PF blamed the MDC for the existence of these radio stations and demanded that the MDC stopped the external broadcasts, although they knew that the MDC has no control over these broadcasts.
ZANU-PF still wants other nations to be complicit in the abuse of information and in denying people access to information.
They want other nations to assist them to deny Zimbabweans their rights. I find it more than amusing that a Deputy Minister of Information is not aware of the fact that some countries have freedom of speech and their governments do not have the power to just march into a studio and switch off the microphones like African dictators are fond of doing.
As for Mandiwanzira, someone should advise him that a proliferation of radio stations in Zimbabwe is not an indication of democracy. What good are a hundred radio stations spouting the same ZANU-PF nonsense?
Zimbabweans need diversified sources of information; we want to hear different opinions and we want to say our part without being threatened or without some fool tempering with the message before it reaches its intended audience.
So Mandiwanzira should retire to his office and take the time to understand the role of the media in any society instead of just jumping up and repeating the same old vomit we have heard from ZANU-PF morons over the years.
While I know nothing about his academic background as far as media is concerned, Mandiwanzira, given his background of at least having worked in a newsroom at the ZBC, has an opportunity to make a difference. If he has ever gathered and disseminated information, he should understand the simple principles of journalism.
Unless, of course, he is just one of those morons who blindly follow political parties while destroying their own professions.
The heart of the matter is that if Jonathan Moyo wants to see a healthy revival of the Zimbabwean media, he and that contraption called the Zimbabwe Media Commission should leave the media alone and not venture anywhere near it.
I am intrigued by the First Amendment to the US Constitution which simply states that: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble…”
There is a very good reason why the Americans put up a law that prohibited their law makers from making any law that touched on the freedom of the press.
My point is that governments must leave the media alone. Curtailing and attempting to control the media is a cowardly thing to do yet ZANU-PF spends millions of dollars eavesdropping on people’s conversations.
This is only done by those who know that they have no support and are forcing themselves on the nation.
If Jonathan Moyo and his gang want to make amends and “bridge the gap” with the media, they must go away from media houses. Not a single law should be imposed on the media.
After Moyo removes the laws he used in his failed attempt to castrate the media in Zimbabwe, then we can view each other as equals. But as long as they view themselves as masters of the media and owners of information, they are bound to fail just as much as Jonathan Moyo failed to vanquish the media in Zimbabwe although he had all the arsenal he wanted at his disposal.
The three musketeers of Jonathan Moyo, George Charamba and Supa Mandiwanzira must simply leave the media alone.
The Ministry of Information should not even exist but should just be a department in some other office.
The mere existence of a Ministry of Information is a curtailment of the media.
There can never be a democracy in the absence of a free media. Abolish the Ministry of Information and leave the media alone.
I am Tanonoka Joseph Whande and that, my fellow Zimbabweans, is the way it is today, Monday, October 28th, 2013.