CCC Dismisses Information Minister’s Claims Over ZBC Coverage

Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) has trashed deputy information minister Kindness Paradza’s claims that opposition parties have abandoned free slots offered by the national broadcaster, ZBC to air their election campaign messages.

Paradza told foreign observers and diplomats accredited to cover Zimbabwe’s August 23 polls that opposition parties were reluctant to take up free airtime slots on state television.

Reacting to Paradza’s comments, CCC national spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere dismissed the claims and further challenged ZBC to air party leader Nelson Chamisa’s star rallies live.

“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.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the CCC is available to participate on all fairly-moderated platforms that accord with the constitutional standard.

“We further challenge the ZBC to afford our presidential candidate, Advocate Nelson Chamisa, the opportunity, on a live and unfettered platform, to present his message of hope to the nation, in the same way in which it provides live, wall-to-wall coverage of Mr Mnangagwa.”

Section 61 of the Constitution requires state media to be impartial and to provide a fair chance for the dissemination of opposing ideas and opinions.

In the instances in which the opposition features on state media channels, the particular news content has been noted as biased and intended to influence and shape public perception in contravention of the Constitution and the Electoral Act, according to observers.

Information ministry permanent secretary Nick Mangwana has come under the spotlight for repeatedly gaslighting CCC rallies on his social media handle while showering praise on President Mnangagwa’s rallies.

Mahere said despite the fact that CCC, like any other political party, is entitled to equal treatment on state media, this has not been the case.

She blamed Mangwana for alleged partisanship and fuelling political polarisation.

“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.

“We draw the attention of state media, stakeholders, the public and election observers to the government’s refusal to follow the recommendations of the 2018 SADC and the African Union election observer missions.

“The reports found that the coverage by ZBC 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, our state media and ZBC have failed to reform. Fair, unbiased media coverage is not optional. It is a constitutional imperative.” ZimLive

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