LUPANE villagers yesterday told the Information and Media Panel of Inquiry (Impi) that the media set-up is fuelling divisions in the country as newspapers are aligned to political parties.
Impi, set up by the Information, Media and Broadcasting Services ministry, is on a nationwide tour to engage with communities on the state of the media industry in the country.
Villagers said apart from the media being divisive, it was also marginalising the Matabeleland region and portraying it as being “backward”.
Alfred Ncube said the print media should balance its content, which he said was dominated by politics.
“Newspapers are divisive in the communities as they are too much into political news,” he said.
“If you are seen reading one paper you are branded an opposition member and that applies to the other, which is linked to the ruling party (Zanu PF),” he said.
Villagers blamed the government and individual journalists of causing divisions.
“It is the State which is causing polarisation. The State newspapers and ZBC disseminate information which is suspicious,” Ncube said.
“That space is now being filled by private media houses, and these tend to confuse readers as to what to believe.”
Others said “unprofessional” journalists thrive on sensationalising stories. Impi chairperson Geoffrey Nyarota said the issue of polarisation had dominated meetings they have held so far across the country.
“People are speaking passionately about polarisation as if someone is briefing them in advance, but it is spontaneous,” he said.
“This issue has to be addressed. Also people are not happy with government aligned and private media in terms of content.”
Lupane villagers also passionately spoke about the need to license community radios saying that would foster development.
“The media has been portraying Lupane as a poor region, which is not true. There is no publicity on what is happening here hence the need for community radio stations,” a villager Peter Gumede said.
He said the current media set-up undermined artists from Matabeleland regions.
“We don’t know artists from this region because all media outlets are focusing on people from other regions,” he said.
“It’s good that Fungisayi and Plaxedis Wenyika are here, they are known and easily identifiable because they are given priority on radio and television.
“If Ndolwane Super Sounds walks in here we cannot identify them.”
Gumede said the perception that community radio stations were seen as a platform to oppose or topple the government, was not the case.
Impi would be in Tsholotsho today.