Writes Marlvin Ngiza The Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) has embarked on safety measures for journalists and expressed commitment to taking important steps to ensure media participation while expressing great interest in professionalism and responsible media in necessitating the free flow of information for informed choices for the electorate during the elections period.
This follows the proclamation of the date of the 2023 elections by President Emmerson Mnangagwa last week.
The commission has vowed the safety of media practitioners during the coverage of elections and this was evidenced by the launch of a press jacket which was for identification purposes for all those who will cover elections and a call for stakeholders to shun harassment of journalists during their duties was made.
Speaking at a press conference held in Harare on 5 June 2023, ZMC chairperson Professor Ruby Magosvongwe said should persist during the elections period.
“The ZMC is taking important steps to ensure that the media plays its role in the upcoming elections. Regarding the upcoming elections, the commission is particularly concerned with seeing professional and responsible media which promotes the free flow of information and content which enables our citizens to make informed choices and decisions.
“Elections should not divide us. Different choices do not diminish our collectivity. We are still Zimbabweans, one family driven by shared hopes, dreams, and aspirations and we share a common history. The role of the media should be to inform voters on how to exercise their rights and monitor the electoral process, ” said Prof Magosvongwe.
She added that a media monitoring committee was yet to be established specifically to monitor the coverage of the elections with media capacitation ahead of the elections already underway.
“In line with the provisions of the Electoral Act, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission(ZEC) will soon be setting a media monitoring committee to monitor the coverage of 2023 harmonized general elections. The committee is comprised of the ZEC, ZMC, and Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe(BAZ). The committee is chaired by ZEC and is required to produce a report which is an addendum to the main elections report.
“In line with these legal requirements, the ZMC has already begun processes to capacitate the media players to play their role efficiently, professionally, and effectively. The commission has already launched an election reporting and peace Journalism manual. ZMC will train 1000 journalists on peace and conflict-sensitive journalism, ” she added.
ZMC is the regulator of the media industry in the country whose functions include the duty to uphold, promote and develop freedom of the media, to promote and enforce good practices and ethics in the media, and fair competition and diversity in the media.
This year’s harmonized general elections were set for 23 August.