Opposition parties decry lack of access to state media

Opposition parties have decried lack of access to state media ahead of by-elections next month.

Zimbabwe is set to hold by-elections on March 26 to fill in 28 vacancies in Parliament and more than 100 in local authorities across the country.

Public media, especially the national broadcaster, is mandated by law to give all political parties contesting in elections fair coverage, something they have failed to do in the previous polls.

Some election observer missions in 2018 reported that the national television was biased in favour of the ruling ZANU-PF party.

With only a month and 10 days remaining before the mini polls could be held, opposition parties are accusing Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) and Zimpapers of either turning a blind eye on them or giving them negative coverage.

Newly formed Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) Midlands provincial spokesperson, Dr Takavafira Zhou told CITE that none of its by-elections candidates has had access to state media since the sitting of the Nomination Court on January 26.

“None has had access to state media,” he decried.

“We are not getting coverage from state media. The only time we get coverage is when the state peddles falsehoods that CCC members attacked ZANU-PF supporters.

ZAPU has also echoed similar concerns on state media coverage of opposition political parties.

“We have not received any coverage from state media and quite honestly we are not desperate for their coverage,” said the party spokesperson, Msongelwa Ndlovu.

“We know that they are partisan, they are used as a public relations arm of ZANU-PF regardless of the fact that they are funded by taxpayers; by the common person on the street.

He said ZANU-PF was abusing power to ensure that the public media only covers them and side-lines opposition political parties.

“We wear that as a badge of honour because when you see organisations that have taken the side to support ZANU-PF supporting you then Zimbabwean voters will immediately view you as a compromised organisation. So they might as well continue covering their ZANU-PF. If they want to cover us, they will and we will welcome them.”

He further said it was regrettable that ZANU-PF has long captured state media.

CCC Bulawayo provincial spokesperson Swithern Chirowodza said ZBC has failed to play its true role as the public broadcaster, adding the broadcasting media in general needs reforms to ensure adequate and meaningful coverage of all political parties contesting the polls.

 

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