ZTV takes top slot in absurd inflation coverage

By a Correspondent
HARARE - Coverage by the state media of Zimbabwe's world record inflation soaring through the 1 000 percent barrier was both professionally dishonest and ridiculous. But first prize for the most ludicrous claim that the economy will recover, even as the state printing pre

sses turn out trillions more increasingly worthless bank notes, must go to ZTV.
Things will be all right, the state broadcaster announced, with an upgrading of Harare International Airport and the Beitbridge border post. Well, there you have it.
The Sunday Mail, however, offered some keen competition in this theatre of the absurd. “Zimbabweans should not be alarmed by the 1 000 percent inflation rate,” it said, ” … as the economy is set to be revived because of a combination of natural factors and government-initiated policies unveiled in the past few weeks.”
Battling on “to explode the whole myth about inflation figures,” the Sunday Mail had some alleged experts predicting the inflation rate would “tumble.” Zimbabweans, it further advised, should view inflation merely as “a record of the difficulties that Zimbabwe has experienced in the past few years.” But things were coming right and it would not be long “before the smiles return on the faces of resilient citizens.”
“Notably, none of the articles scientifically demonstrated how inflation would be tamed,” commented the media watchdog, Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe (MMPZ), said in its report covering May 8-14.
The rest of the state media carried on with mindless, unquestioning coverage of empty rhetoric by Robert Mugabe’s officials. Spot FM, for example, reported Industry Minister Obert Mpofu announcing that the regime had a plan to “boost foreign currency inflows by assisting companies to add value to their products before exporting.” There was, naturally, no detail.
In contrast, the private media remained forthright, categorically blaming the economic slide on the regime’s policies.
MMPZ cited SW Radio Africa reporting analysts saying that the hyperinflation was due to official mismanagement of the economy “on a spectacular scale.” The Zimbabwe Independent took issue with the patently absurd claim by the Central Statistical Office that the unemployment rate was nine percent. It contrasted this with a report by the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries showing that the manufacturing sector had lost 42 percent of its labour force in 2004-2005.
Highlighting the galloping cost of living and the state’s ballooning domestic debt, Studio 7 said the situation was so bad that the central bank is considering introducing a Z$100 000 bill in June. It quoted economist John Robertson as saying the authorities should instead print $500 000 and $1 million bills to avoid cash shortages and “wasting lots of paper.”
On agriculture, even the state mouthpieces carried tacit acknowledgments by the authorities that land seized from white commercial farmers is not being used productively by black farmers.
“However, the papers did not view the farmers’ alleged failure as an indication of government’s bungled land reforms,” noted the media monitors. “For example, The Herald restricted itself to reporting government officials threatening to repossess under-utilised farms from resettled farmers without balancing this with government’s agricultural policies.”
The private media continued to expose the problems in agriculture as being due to official policies. The Zimbabwe Independent reported two new farm invasions by Zanu (PF) officials. And The Financial Gazette, the Independent and The Standard all reported that the under-utilisation of the seized Kondozi Estate had compelled the authorities to consider returning it to its original owners.

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