THE VOLUNTARY Media Council of Zimbabwe (VMCZ)’s media ethics committee (MEC) analysed stories from different media houses. Among them are the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) television and the five daily newspapers, namely, News Day, The Herald, The Chronicle, Southern Eye and Daily News.
Media coverage on the President Robert Mugabe’s inauguration
Although the MEC lauds a fair coverage of the Mugabe’s inauguration, cases of partisan reportage are still conspicuous. MEC took into account how the public media focused on congratulating the president-elect on his seventh five-year term as head of State with private media focusing on the preparedness of the event.
However, MEC also took note of some newspaper sections that were awash with inflammatory language. The public media mocked perceived losers through unsavory language and inferences.
On the opposite end, the private media declared the inauguration the last of its kind for the ailing leader amid succession disputes within his (Mugabe’s) party. There was also emphasis on the issue of how many heads of State and government from Sadc and the African Union eventually turned up at the event without follow-up as to why they could or could not have attended. MEC urges editors of all daily newspapers to take note of the need for continued professional and ethical standards in reporting even in highly political moments such as was the Presidential inauguration ceremony.
The election of mayors and council chairpersons
The MEC also observed that the election of Mayors and council chairpersons has been a contentious issue in the media. Particularly where it concerned the legal criteria for the election of selected candidates. There was inadequate follow-up stories on the MEChanisms in which the mayors were to be elected and some of the stories that were eventually published had components of political bias, particularly in the public media. It is therefore pertinent for media practitioners to be accurate, fair and balanced in their reporting and also to undertake the necessary follow-up stories on issues that will not yet be concluded.
Newly-elected Members of Parliament
The MEC observed that both public and private media covered some newly-elected Members of Parliament extensively. The coverage has also focused on issues of the limited academic credentials of some of these new Members of Parliament. If members of the public are not happy with any story published by the media in Zimbabwe on any election related matter they are free to lodge a complaint with the VMCZ’s media complaints committee.