via Moyo urges media to end polarisation by John Nyashanu for NewsDay October 11, 2013
MEDIA, Information and Broadcasting Services minister Jonathan Moyo yesterday made a passionate plea to the media to turn a new leaf and bring an end to the polarisation that has characterised the industry for over a decade.
Speaking at a meeting with management at Alpha Media Holdings (AMH) – publishers of NewsDay, ZimbabweIndependent, Southern Eye and The Standard — Moyo promised to bridge the gap between government and the private media, saying it was time to let bygones be bygones.
“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.
“There is no reason why we should compete for the acquisition of newsprint. It’s the same at Zimpapers, ANZ and AMH.
“Another major problem here is that each media house has its own printing press. We need to converge like they do in South Africa and do our printing from one centre.”
Moyo, who was speaking after touring the NewsDay, Zimbabwe Independent and Standard newsrooms to appreciate their difficulties, also said it was important for journalists across the political divide to work together and put the national interest at heart.
Group Senior Associate Editor Iden Wetherell said: “The public media cannot be a tool for one political party. We do not want to see abuse of the public media.”
But Moyo said: “You and I have a duty to make sure it’s possible and I think your experience will help to tell the youngsters that there is more to journalism than pushing political positions.”
AMH Chairman Trevor Ncube hailed Moyo’s initiative, saying it was time for all Zimbabweans to embrace each other and chart the way forward. “We really appreciate your endeavour to engage us. We look forward to a good working relationship with you, Honourable minister, deputy minister (Supa Mandiwanzira) and (permanent secretary) Cde George Charamba,” he said. AMH Group CEO Raphael Khumalo brought to the minister’s attention numerous obstacles faced by the private media, chief among them inaccessibility of government officials, hassles in getting newsprint and spare parts as well as hardships in getting advertisements due to political reasons.
“Access to government officials has been a real nightmare,” he said. “Our journalists are facing difficulties accessing public officials every day as they fear that they may be reprimanded if they interacted with the private media.”
Group Editor-in-Chief Vincent Kahiya added: “Two weeks ago we called the police about homicide statistics, but were told ‘What do you need the information for? You want to tarnish the image of the police.’ It makes the State appear as if there is something to hide even if there is no issue at all.”
Moyo, who was accompanied by deputy Supa Mandiwanzira, presidential secretary George Charamba and director of Urban Communications Retired Major Anywhere Mutambudzi, admitted that the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act had not been beneficial.
“The good thing is that we now have a new Constitution and this is the fundamental law,” Moyo said. “If there are issues requiring legal attention, put them on the table and we will see if they require government attention. Fortunately for me, those who were in government have amended it for me – they have done it on my behalf.”
Earlier, Moyo and his delegation toured all AMH newsrooms – NewsDay, Zimbabwe independent and Standard — meeting journalists and other staff members before meeting the company management.