via Media advocacy groups duping donors – DailyNews Live 6 July 2014
HARARE – While it may be a well-known fact that most civic organisations in the country are out to milk the donor community of their money, we find it more disturbing that media organisations from the civic society are doing nothing but using journalists to source funds for themselves.
In the past few years, we have seen journalists, including those from the Daily News being arrested under the draconian Criminal Defamation law but all we see from the media advocacy organisations are press statements meant to hoodwink their paymasters that they are doing something for journalists.
We have more than 10 media organisations in the country all being funded by the donors, but what are they doing for journalists? Nothing. No doubt in a country, with an unemployment rate of over 80 percent, civil organisations offer opportunities for many — including those who may naturally lack the vigour and spirit to advance the rights of the persons they purport to serve.
The media terrain may have opened up over the past few years but the so-called advocacy groups, whose staff members have become regulars in the country’s expensive hotels, are not doing enough to inspire confidence. Indeed when reporters are arrested, they rehash their usual attacks on the government then fold their arms. They never mobilise their so-called members to attend court processes to show solidarity with the arrested journalists and will never communicate with the persecuted scribes to find out what really would have transpired.
Not even one organisation among the many proponents of a free media have time to go to the courts in support of journalists, unless if it is a propaganda trip to appease and hoodwink gullible donors. Sitting in their cosy offices complete with all the rich trappings that come with working for foreign-funded organisations, most of the so-called free media proponents have completely and dangerously lost touch and contact with the media.
Because there is so much to pick from the feeding trough, it is little surprise that elections involving such organisations are oft stoked with controversy simply because those in the saddle are hell-bent on retaining their posts by hook or crook and cannot afford to let go their comfy lifestyles. Is it because these organisations are led by non-journalists who are after making money and who are only good at writing enticing project proposals?
That is not only commonplace in media advocacy and representative groups but prevalent in the whole spectrum of so-called NGOs that are profiting from the pain of ordinary Zimbabweans.
They could be watchdogs — but they don’t have a bite in their bark. It is not because they don’t have the resources but simply because their priorities are misplaced, misguided and egocentric. Why don’t they take a cue from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) which is genuinely standing up for the people?