Opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) has rubbished claims by the Deputy Minister of Information, Kindness Paradza that the opposition is refusing to take up airtime on State controlled media to air their election campaign messages.
The opposition described the coverage of this year’s general elections by State media as unconstitutional, biased, and manipulated in favor of Zanu-PF.
This follows after Paradza told foreign observers and diplomats accredited to cover Zimbabwe’s August 23 polls that opposition parties were not willing to utilise free airtime slots offered by ZBC for their campaigns.
In a statement, CCC national spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere trashed Paradzayi’s claims saying: “The Citizens’ Coalition for Change notes false claims by the Deputy Information Minister, Kindness Paradza that the opposition is ‘refusing to take up airtime on ZBC’.
“It is a matter of public record that ZBC refuses to give any independent or fair coverage to the CCC, our presidential candidate, Advocate Nelson Chamisa, our star rallies, our cluster rallies, our rural penetration drive, our campaign messages or any of our wide-ranging political activities,” she said.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the CCC is available to participate on all fairly-moderated platforms that accord with the constitutional standard.”
Mahere further challenged the national television broadcaster to afford CCC’s presidential candidate, Advocate Nelson Chamisa, live coverage during campaign rallies.
Mahere also accused Information ministry permanent secretary Nick Mangwana of fuelling political polarisation on social media.
“Instead of acting independently and in a fair manner, Zimbabwe’s state media has degenerated into a political reporting arm for Zanu PF as demonstrated by the skewed news and current affairs coverage that is heavily biased in favour of Mr Mnangagwa and Zanu PF in terms of content, support and time allocation (over 90%).
“This unconstitutional conduct cascades as far as the permanent secretary for information who has a constitutional obligation to act in a non-partisan manner as a civil servant.
“Instead, he has demonstrated clear support of Zanu PF in the exercise of his functions.
“His conduct in this regard offends section 200 of the constitution and further undermines the ability of state media to act in a non-partisan manner as is required by law,” Mahere said.
The 2018 SADC and the African Union election observer missions found out that the coverage by the state media of the elections was “in favour of one political party, contrary to the relevant provisions of the Constitution, the Electoral Act, and the Revised SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections, which requires State-owned media to be impartial.”
Regrettably, Zimbabwe’s state media has failed to reform, Mahere said.