The role of media in elections is undoubtedly critical. Media gives politicians a chance to share their visions and plans with their supporters (aspiring supporters) on what they will do (for their voters) when they are elected into office. This gives voters a chance to choose which politician to vote for.
And as part of its various reasons for challenging the Presidential Election results, MDC Alliance has dragged state media (ZBC,The Herald and The Chronicle) into the picture for bad reasons. MDC Alliance is blaming state media for being impartial and being used as propaganda voices of Zanu-PF. As such, MDC Alliance says state media violated the Electoral Act. MDC Alliance’s petition also stated the failure of Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) in ensuring fair coverage of the election. Here is the full statement from MDC Alliance’s court petition;
The Constitution requires the state media to be impartial and objective. This was not so with the ZBC, The Herald and The Chronicle and yet not once did the twenty- third respondent speak about the violations. The ZBC, which is a State- owned broadcaster created by Statute, was a propaganda arm of first respondent and brazenly breached section 61(4) of the Constitution for the entire duration of the Election Campaign. The relevant footage will be played in court and the relevant newspapers placed before it…..Furthermore the Herald and the Chronicle, directly State- owned media of communication, were likewise in breach of this provision. Given that there are no other television stations in the country and that the Herald by its own admission is the largest circulation daily in the nation this was a serious breach of the Constitution which also went to the heart of the election. It should also be pointed out that well over 60% of the electorate in the rural areas only receive their information from the ZBC so this breach had, likewise, a profound effect on the electorate’s outlook and their ability to understand the divergent views and dissenting opinions offered by parties and candidates other than ZANU PF and first respondent…..The conduct of the public broadcasters articulated above is also in breach of the Electoral Act. ZEC was obliged to call the public broadcasters to order over these violations but refused to do so. The failure by ZEC to ensure that there was an impartial and fair coverage of the election goes to the root of the election, particularly when regard is had to the relevant constitutional provisions.