Govt scoffs at Chamisa’s demands for fair media coverage

CCC has been accusing the State media of abdicating its constitutional mandate to provide equal and fair coverage to all political parties.

GOVERNMENT has revealed that main opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) leader Nelson Chamisa will not get equal coverage with his rival President Emmerson Mnangagwa in public media outlets because the latter is the Head of State.

CCC has been accusing the State media of abdicating its constitutional mandate to provide equal and fair coverage to all political parties.

Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services deputy minister Kindness Paradza told the opposition party to “accept reality” and wait until it takes over power to enjoy public media coverage.

Paradza said this during a workshop on elections and the media which was organised by his ministry and attended by journalists and representatives from CCC, MDC-T and Zanu PF in Bulawayo last week.

“Accept reality. We cannot equate President Mnangagwa and Mr Chamisa. He is the Head of State and government and we should not expect ZBC to treat them equally,” Paradza said.

“In the unlikely event that he (Chamisa) will become the next government, you will see what I am talking about. So can you just relax until you are in government and you will see what we are talking about?”

Information ministry director for media services George Chisoko also weighed in saying: “The question here is about Mnangagwa being a president of Zanu PF doing Zanu PF work and he being the Head of government. Now there are stories we see on television where President Mnangagwa is doing government business, there is no way we can ignore that he is doing government business and, therefore, he will be covered.”

Chisoko said if it is about politics about Zanu PF “that is a different ball game but don’t get agitated because he is doing government business and he will be covered as the President of Zimbabwe, the Head of State doing government business.”

The CCC party has often accused the State media, particularly ZBC, of bias in favour of Zanu PF, where Mnangagwa as a presidential candidate enjoyed live coverage of his campaign rallies while his rival Chamisa did not have the same opportunity.

Section 155 of the Constitution compels the State media to provide all political parties and candidates contesting an election with fair and equal access to electronic and print media.

Tempers flared during the workshop after Paradza accused the CCC of instigating hate speech which resulted in the public broadcasters denying them airtime.

“ZBC charges for the outside broadcasting, the live broadcasting that you are talking about. If you want you can approach ZBC and you pay for that. If you want your rallies to be covered as live events you can approach ZBC they will tell you the charges. But this is election period, the charges have been reasonably reduced.

“But, language, because some of you in the opposition especially the CCC, munongoita basa rekutuka chete, munoita basa rekutuka… (all you do is spawn hate speech).”

CCC deputy secretary for elections Ellen Shiriyedenga, however, interjected and dismissed claims that the party fuelled hate speech.

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