State media find more success in latest flop

By a Correspondent
HARARE - Reflecting their fiddling-while-Rome-burns approach to news, the state-run media hailed the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair as a huge success, giving no figures for attendance or business generated at the event, which private radio stations bluntly revealed was a fai

lure.
Similarly, the 300% pay hike for teachers and the uniformed services – another huge boost to inflation – was reported by the state media passively without questioning where the money would come from (more printing) or the effect of spiralling the budget. Independent broadcasters SW Radio Africa and Studio 7 said the Trade Fair was a flop with few foreign exhibitors and many unoccupied stands. ZTV, perhaps wisely, dropped its past practice of reporting the exact number of visitors to the Fair, noting vaguely “a fairly large turnout” on the opening day. The state-run Chronicle, however, pulled out all the stops, saying the Fair “will be a panacea to the country’s economic challenges.”
“However, like ZBH, there was no methodical assessment of the projected economic benefits of the event and how these will alleviate the country’s economic distress,” the media watchdog, Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe (MMPZ), said in its report covering April 24-30. “Neither would the papers carry comparative analysis of the Fair’s alleged successes with its predecessors to justify their optimism that this year’s event would be the cure-all for Zimbabwe’s economic woes.”
The pay rises got the same treatment. “Rather than view the development as an indication of the authorities’ failure to arrest economic decline, they simply portrayed it as an eloquent expression of government’s commitment to improving the living conditions of its workers,” said MMPZ. The private media said the pay rises and huge hikes in fees at state health institutions were all symptomatic of spiralling inflation. Studio 7 quoted economist Tony Hawkins as saying that another 300 percent increment to “civil servants would add another $70-$80 trillion to the budget which was the equivalent of doubling the current budget.” The Zimbabwe Independent cited analysts as revealing that the authorities needed to print nearly Z$60 trillion to fund the salary hikes, pushing inflation way above the current near 1 000 percent. “All these increases cause more inflation but have also been necessitated by inflation,” the paper said. The state media did another masking job over the chaos in agriculture. The monitors said, they gave no coherent background to the standoff between Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono and tobacco farmers after he scrapped previously promised financial support incentives.
“For instance, they hardly went beyond Gono’s claims that the policy shift would ‘promote high quality leaf as well as incentives to tobacco growers to deliver their crop early.’ Neither would they wonder why tobacco quality had suddenly deteriorated in the aftermath of the land reforms.”

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