By Hopewell Chin’ono
The irresponsible lie published by the Herald newspaper insinuating that the leader of the MDC Alliance, Nelson Chamisa, spoke about impregnating women shows why there is an urgent need for media reforms in Zimbabwe.
The lie is callous and disrespectful to women and does nothing but malign President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s electoral campaign and reputation in the eyes of reasonable and sane minds, because it is being said in his name by the state controlled paper.
In their quest to try and please, cozy up and bridge their proximity to the political elites in government, the Herald has lowered its professional and ethical obligations from the gutter into the sewer.
The State controlled paper has a higher ethical responsibility because it is part of the public print media that should have been running papers of record relied upon both home and abroad.
Instead it has abrogated its ethical obligations in chase of cheap, narrow, shallow and irresponsible pot shots at the opposition parties and their leadership.
This leaves both the government of the day and the President exposed to both local and international scorn and a demand for immediate media reforms that are now at the center of electoral legitimacy calls. It does the President’s stature more harm to the international partners that he promised a free and fair election that would meet the credibility test.
There is nothing credible about a State media machinery which seeks to score cheap political points on behalf of the President and his party through crass and ludicrous lies packaged and published as news.
We can’t talk of a new dispensation when evidently the State media still lives in the past and is continuously drawing its wisdom from the pre-November prescriptions rooted in old propaganda models of the 70s and 80s.
These are the issues that will make floating voters walk away from the promises of a new beginning by the current government.
This crude propaganda is damaging the President’s brand because it makes a huge mockery of his calls for a decent and new Zimbabwe rooted in hard work, honesty and a patriotic desire to see successful economic outcomes.
The political will to drive a new progressive deal for Zimbabwe which includes the long awaited media reforms meant to create a responsible media can only come from the Presidency. That is where the power to reform the way the Herald operates resides in at the moment.
I wrote about this yesterday when the Zimpapers group was once more given a Television Content License, the future of media industries will not be determined and shaped by propaganda models.
That is a model that has NO place in a modern world of social media and the videophone. Nelson Chamisa was exonerated by a social media video that exposed the gigantic Herald newspaper as a source of divisive journalistic output and lies.
This is not a new discovery, it is the extend to which they were prepared to go this time that was shocking!
The future of media and journalistic reportage will be determined by common sense.
The ability to be creative in finding ways to support a chosen candidate without resorting to cheap lies and resolutely holding on to ethics requires journalistic minds which have evolved with the moving world.
The continued peddling of cheap propaganda reflects on the lack of big and sophisticated ideas by the state media empire to evolve with the times, they are simply lazy to think.
Those that genuinely care about the President’s reputation must put an end to these irresponsible acts of journalism, otherwise the buck will stop on his door at Munhumutapa and he will have to carry the responsibility.
Those who assume that a world of lies will win hearts and minds are living in the past, it is soiling the Presidency! Until the Herald starts reporting responsibly, there won’t be any Free and Fair election to talk about.
Election rigging does not only relate to what happens on the day of polling, what the Herald is doing is a form of election rigging because it is meant to weave a false perspective and narrative to be deceitfully consumed by voters through a pack of lies in their reportage.
A friend posted the attached picture with a spoof headline “We Hate Nelson Chamisa,” it is a fitting tribute to the Herald’s lie published by its irresponsible editorial team!
It is embarrassing for a newspaper controlled from the President’s office to behave in such an unprofessional and unethical manner.
It is simply Power without Responsibility, it is a dangerous prospect for a country which assumedly is trying to move from a dark past to a better future!
It will result in a contested election result that will recede the stature of the current President if he wins.
This country deserves a better public media, which takes its role seriously and does not seek to denigrate the name of Zimbabwe and drag it down to the old pariah yard that stole 18 years of our expected potential and future.
It is in the interest of the public and indeed the President’s own standing that this reputation is now restored without delay.
The highest office in the country can’t and shouldn’t be associated with Fake News factories like The Herald has become.
We also don’t need foreigners to let us know that we are hurtling towards the wrong path with these old methods, it is evidently clear even to villagers that state media is peddling fibs.
Zimbabwe can’t survive another five years of pariah status caused by irresponsible officials whose sole aim is to line their pockets at any cost that seeks to punish the masses to a continued life of penury.
We know that there are some good men and women around the President, they must now stand up and be counted or they will sink with the old order and its proponents!
Original Herald Story: https://www.herald.co.zw/i-can-impregnate-any-woman-says-chamisa/
Hopewell Chin’ono is an award winning Zimbabwean journalist and documentary filmmaker. He is a CNN African journalist of the year and Harvard University Nieman Fellow. His next film, State of Mind looking at mental illness in Zimbabwe will be launched in June in Harare and Johannesburg by Graca Machel. He can be contacted on [email protected] or on twitter @daddyhope
Trailer for State of Mind