Zanu’s election tactics

Over the last couple of months there has been a series of seemingly unrelated events that have occupied the space of political discourse in the country, which few of us have bothered to tie together.

In spite of the seemingly unrelated nature of the incidents and conversations around them, a clear thread can be seen. At the centre of attacks on Civic Society actors’, or the unrelenting prosecutions for purposes of persecution that journalists from The Standard and the Daily News have to endure, is an attempt to intimidate those who are pursuing a more democratic dispensation in Zimbabwe.

A conundrum

The conundrum that pro-democracy actors have found themselves in is a case of focusing too much on the incidents, creating the impression that, while they demand transparency, accountability and good behaviour from the state, they may appear not to be keen on allowing themselves to be subjected to the same scrutiny. So, these calculated attacks meant to move people’s attention away from pertinent political questions, are left unchallenged. The net effect being that Zanu (PF) gradually succeeds in its attempts.

Credibility is loosely defined as the quality of being trusted or being believed in. Often, this is a character that one gains through time, effort, and a track record in ones’ work.

Take for instance the case laid against Nxaba Matshazi of The Standard and his editor, Nevanji Madanhire. This is not the first time that the Standard or its Editor has been subjected to unjustified police and judicial action. It is clear that in this case, there are two primary cases at the centre of this incident. The first is of misdirection. Credible cases of corruption, rape involving minors (which seems to have been swept under the judicial carpet) and release of information in the public interest can be laid against the Reserve Bank Advisor, Munyaradzi Kereke.

Nxaba is portrayed as a thief for having written the story. We all believe in ethical journalism and agree that subjects in stories should be afforded the right of reply. Having said that, we also believe that unwarranted police and judicial action, especially around civil defamation, is unwarranted and impedes the greater cause of freedom of expression. Journalists should not be arrested for doing their jobs.

Neither here nor there

This is an example of how we are forced to divert from issues of corruption, alleged rape and crumbling medical services to focus on an issue of law and media ethics, which is neither here nor there.

It is the same case in Minister Ignatius Chombo’s riches saga, a story which itself was first broken by the Herald in 2010, but which Xolisani and Stanley Gama from the Daily News are now being persecuted for. In both instances, the journalists, instead of digging deeper on the issues, are now having to focus on defending themselves in court. The second issue stems from the first.

By portraying The Standard and the Daily News as unethical newspapers, their journalists as thieves and gossipers, and the editors as reckless – there is a clear challenge to the credibility of the papers. The attempt is to create a credibility gap between the Newspapers and their readers, while at the same time intimidating into inaction the journalists in question.

Not very patriotic

Civic Society has not been spared. The Patriot Newspaper has spun sensational stories based on a mixture of stolen information and Google journalism. Organisations such as the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network, National Association of Non-Governmental Organisations, ZimRights and the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions to name a few, have been targets of the vicious attacks.

The Patriot, in whose Editorial of the 2nd of December 2011, pretty much dismissed any pretentions of being an independent newspaper, has been aptly aided by the captured Public Media. However, it has gone a step further in propagating hate and putting the lives of democratic actors at risk through the release of addresses of so-called enemies of the state.

What is the motive behind such actions? It is my hope that Super Mandiwanzira and his editorial team are aware that if any harm of a physical nature occurs to these people based on the private information that they have provided, they will be responsible. – Mcdonald Lewanika, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition

Post published in: Politics

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