ZMC to train 1 000 journalists in elections reporting
Kadoma (New Ziana) –As the country moves towards the harmonized elections scheduled for August 23 this year, the Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) is concerned about the conduct of journalists in promoting peaceful, free and fair polls.
In an interview during the ongoing Train the Trainer Program on Reporting Elections and Peace Journalism, ZMC executive secretary Godwin Phiri said the trainers are going to train about 1 000 journalists in all the provinces in an effort to improve the quality of journalism.
He said the primary objective of the ZMC is to have a media that supports free and fair elections.
“Ordinarily, we are concerned about the media being professional, doing its job in an objective manner
“What we have done is that we have already launched an Elections Reporting and Peace Journalism Manual which speaks to issues of how journalists should conduct themselves during the elections, … understanding the Acts and other regulations that govern elections.
“The most important thing is that citizens must be given space to make informed choices, so there is no space from our point of view for fake news and there is no space for sensationalism. We want quality information to be given to our citizens to enable them to make informed choices,” said Phiri.
The ZMC is also concerned about the safety of journalists during elections “as emotions do run high and journalists find their safety being compromised”.
Phiri said the ZMC will soon distribute press jackets and branded tents to be pitched at rallies so that journalists can be easily identified and protected by law enforcement agents.
“We are also talking to players, we are talking to political parties for them to understand that when journalists are covering elections, they are simply doing their job. They should not be harassed; they should be allowed to do their job without any unnecessary hindrance.
“On the other hand, it is the responsibility of the journalists to conduct themselves in a professional manner without bringing the profession into disrepute,” he explained.
The ZMC plans to hold a Media Indaba for critical stakeholders to discuss the basic standards in order to hold each other accountable in terms of elections.
Phiri applauded the Second Republic for opening up the media space through engagement with police, political parties and other media players.
He urged media owners to adequately resource journalists and avoid situations where journalists are compromised by being given transport and bribes by politicians.
The ZMC is working with the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) to fund its programs and is looking for other partners to also come onboard.