Nyanga (New Ziana) – Timely dissemination of accurate information is imperative in national development, and the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services sits at the heart of this, a senior government official said on Thursday.
Officially closing the Ministry’s strategic planning workshop here, permanent secretary Nick Mangwana said no development, or national cause, can be accomplished if stakeholders – particularly the citizenry – were
not fully mobilised through dissemination of information.
Citing, among other things, Zimbabwe’s top-rated success in the fight against Covid-19 – achieved against the odds of Western sanctions – Mangwana noted that much of the achievement was due to the role the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services and its various agencies played in disseminating information to, and mobilising, the citizenry to fight the pandemic.
Without this, he said, predictions by the West and others of colossal deaths from the pandemic in Zimbabwe could have become reality.
“Zimbabwe’s gains against Covid-19 would not have been possible without the mammoth contribution of this Ministry. We mobilised the national psyche, mustered the needed critical mass and built the national consensus in the fight against this marauding pandemic. The detractors of this country had prophesised Amageddon for us by predicting that three million Zimbabweans would die of Covid-19,” he said.
The workshop, which also involved all the Ministry’s agencies such as New Ziana and the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, focused on mapping communication strategies, and points of emphasis, for the coming year.
Mangwana said key among these was formulating and implementing dynamic information and media policies that promoted human rights and development, secured national sovereignty, ensured two-way communication between the government and its various publics, and disseminated government policies and programmes to the citizenry.
“You all sat through long and grueling hours of candid debate and dialogue, all for the purpose of coming up with winning annual plans. Winning not against other Ministry or government entities, but winning against poverty and poor development. For this is what Vision 2030 is about. It is a National Vision, a National Aspiration to reduce poverty and increase prosperity,” he said.
“In our space, the idea is to defeat the poverty of information because information sits at the heart of human development. What you did over the last four days is highly commendable because it will make the Ministry live up to its Mission to mould a national consciousness, defend, uphold and promote Zimbabwe’s interests and aspirations worldwide.”
Mangwana said disinformation and peddling of fake news had become prevalent around the world, to the detriment of national interests, and this demanded the Ministry and its agencies to be always alert and prepared to fight this as part of the collective mandate.
Over the last two decades, Western governments and media subjected Zimbabwe to a torrent of negative publicity over its land reforms, in addition to imposing sanctions against the country over the matter.
Much of the publicity was disguised as pointers to human rights abuses, and political intolerance by the government, especially towards the opposition.
This, Mangwana said, needs to be discerned and fought against through timely dissemination of truthful information in the broader national interest.
“We live in a world of emerging threats such as disinformation, misinformation and atrocity propaganda on social media. These all require us all to be proactive and strategic in the execution of our mandate. Let us disseminate and promote accurate and factual information all the time because fake news thrives in the absence of accurate information. Nature hates a vacuum, so does information,” he said.
He commended the culture of zero tolerance to corruption in the Ministry and its agencies as shown in a national survey in which it was judged by the public to be the least corrupt Ministry.