State media aiding rights violations

ZIMBABWE has a well-known record of human rights violations dating back to the 1980s when an estimated 20 000 civilians from the Midlands and Matabeleland regions were murdered in cold blood by the North Korean trained Fifth Brigade.

There have been numerous attempts from the Zimbabwean government to sweep the issue of the 1980 massacres, otherwise known as Gukurahundi under the carpet.

Since the formation of the MDC in 1999, Zimbabwe has witnessed a surge in political violence that has resulted in the deaths of opposition and civic society activists.

During the controversial 2008 elections, over 200 opposition supporters lost their lives at the hands of ruling party Zanu PF activists, soldiers and state security agents. The world also witnessed soldiers killing civilians who were protesting against electoral theft in 2018.

Since the coming in of the so-called new dispensation (following the military coup that dethroned former leader, Robert Mugabe) the state has intensified clampdowns on dissent and abduction and torture of activists continues. Extrajudicial killings have also been witnessed with families of the victims failing to get justice.

Arbitrary arrests and capture of the judiciary have resulted in persecution by prosecution, a trend that has resulted in activists as well as journalists being detained for lengthy periods only to be acquitted later.

The situation is made worse by the fact that the state media has always acted as an appendage of the ruling party and in the process working tirelessly to undermine or most precisely, to sweep under the carpet, cases of human rights violations in the country.

It is quite evident that in Zimbabwe, the state media is complicit in human rights violations. This was the case during the Gukurahundi massacres.

The case of the abducted trio of MDC Alliance members, Joana Mamombe, Cecilia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova reveals how the state media has aided rights violations while trying to underplay the extent of the crisis in Zimbabwe.

The state media has already given a verdict on an issue before the courts and continues to sing from the same hymn with regime sympathisers.

That has always been the stance of the state media even on cases were activists have been charged with treason only for the cases to fall away without any conviction.

Some Journalists from state media have even turned into political activists and are amplifying voices from regime sympathisers and ruling party officials that the abduction of the MDC Alliance trio was stage managed.

It is disturbing that the state media continues to be complicit in human rights violations and thwarting efforts to create a democratic Zimbabwe.

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) Spokesperson, Marvelous Khumalo said the state media complicity in rights violations is regrettable.

“Our constitution is the supreme law of the land and given that we have an extended Bill of Rights in Chapter 4 of the constitution, it means that no institution or organisation can be seen to be assisting or influencing the violation of human rights. The constitution is clear in terms of observance, protection and enjoyment of civic liberties and rights.

“So media organisations should not be seen to be writing in favour of human rights violations. It sends a wrong message both locally and internationally,” said Khumalo.

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