Media Commission commends journalists for vote coverage
Bulawayo (New Ziana) – The Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) on Tuesday applauded the media for competently, fairly and impartially covering the August general elections, which created a peaceful electoral atmosphere in the country.
ZMC chairperson, Prof Ruby Magosvongwe also patted the media on the back for working well with other electoral stakeholders such as political parties, monitoring bodies and organisations, and police.
“Let me applaud the role the media sector played during the 2023 edition of our national elections. Yes, there were some incidences that warranted attention, but the overall performance was commendable,” she said.
“The level of polarization that used to characterize our media in the past elections was not that visible. This is commendable as the media should not be seen to be dividing us as Zimbabweans, but should be seen to be championing the national aspirations of Zimbabweans,” she added.
In its 2023 Strategic Plan of Action, despite budgetary constraints, the ZMC came up with an Elections Reporting and Peace Building Manual to equip media practitioners with the necessary knowledge and skills for reporting elections.
The manual was produced with the support of UNESCO, and the UNDP. Over 2 000 copies were distributed to journalists and media houses.
It also trained nearly 1 000 media practitioners, distributed 2 000 press jackets for local and foreign journalists, and organised a national media indaba where media practitioners signed a pledge to maintain professional standards in their coverage of the poll.
Prof Magosvongwe said no incidents of harassment or clashes between journalists and law enforcement agents during the election.
Her sentiments were echoed by Richard Ngurunga of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, who said the media gave the elections balanced coverage.
“The monitoring exercise revealed that there was a general improvement as far as balanced coverage of elections was concerned compared to the same during the 2018 harmonised elections,” he said.
“However, the media needs to do more to foster inclusive coverage taking into consideration gender, the youth, and people with disabilities,” he added.
However, Ngurunga said there was a drop in advertising by political parties and candidates in the August elections compared to previous polls.
Media trainer, Vincent Kahiya, said he had also noted improvement in the coverage of the elections by the media, but lack of resources hampered this in some cases.
“There was an improvement in the professional conduct of journalists. Media houses had working plans to cover the polls but these were not supported by resources. There were attempts to adhere to basic journalistic tenets,” he said.
“The media generally avoided publishing blatant lies on fundamental issues. There were, (however), pitfalls in failing to verify information contained in official party documents,” he said.