THE GOVERNMENT should ensure the media complies with sections of the Constitution on hate speech to prevent political, ethnic and racial intolerance, a media monitoring watchdog said.
The Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe (MMPZ) said regulatory authorities such as the Zimbabwe Media Commission and Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe should penalise the media for use of hate speech. In its latest report, MMPZ said it had recorded 10 counts of inflammatory and abusive language in the media in February, a decrease from the 12 that were recorded in January.
“There were two cases in which the media were directly responsible for disseminating intimidating, abusive or intolerant language. These involved The Herald’s columnist Nathaniel Manheru and Australia-based Zimbabwean political commentator Reason Wafawarova,” the report read.
“Politicians and members of the public were responsible for the other eight counts of inflammatory and abusive language. Of the 10 counts, seven appeared in the State-owned media, while the remaining three featured in the private media.”
MDC-T MP Settlement Chikwinya, retired Brigadier-General Benjamin Mabenge and MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka were cited as some of the politicians and members of the public who uttered inflammatory and divisive remarks.
Tamborinyoka — on the new ZBC board — said: “What do you expect from a board full of bootlickers and Zanu PF supporters? This does not augur well for the institution . . .”
Mabenge reportedly said: “Which investor will come to Zimbabwe if the country is full of thieves that are never brought to book?”
The MMPZ noted that while there was no specific legislation against hate speech in the country, a lot could be done to prevent the practice of stoking intolerance and hatred.