MISA urges media not to imitate Mutsvangwa’s tribalistic rants
By Nyashadzashe Ndoro
The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Zimbabwe chapter has urged the media not to imitate, entertain and accommodate divisive hate speech and inflammatory content following Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa’s unbridled tribal outburst against Catholic Bishops.
In an unrestrained attack Mutsvangwa went for the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference (ZCBC) using all sorts of derogatory language after the clergymen condemned the wanton human rights violations and clampdown on opposition activists amid escalating political tensions.
Last Friday, ZCBC released a statement condemning President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s under-fire administration for being perpetrators of the political and economic crisis in Zimbabwe.
The pastoral letter was signed by ZCBC president Archbishop Charles Ndlovu, Archbishop Alex Thomas (ZCBC deputy president), and bishops Paul Horan (ZCBC secretary and treasurer), Michael Bhasera (Masvingo), Albert Serrano (Hwange), Rudolf Nyandoro (Gokwe) and Raymond Mupandasekwa (Chinhoyi).
MISA Zimbabwe accused Mutsvangwa of peddling unacceptable discriminatory language unbefitting of a public official when she branded the Ndebele ethnic group as minority second class citizens.
“The tribally connotative remarks attributed to the Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Senator Monica Mutsvangwa, following the pastoral letter issued by the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference (ZCBC), are not exemplary or helpful when viewed in the context of the constitutional obligations that bind senior government officials.
“In her strongly worded response to the pastoral letter, Minister Mutsvangwa singled out and accused Bishop Robert Christopher Ndlovu, ZCBC president, of leading the bishops on the pathway of petty tribalism, narrow regionalism and racial antagonism.
“MISA Zimbabwe’s great concern in that regard, is informed by the minister’s proximity to the media, more so as it pertains to the public media, which, as is expected with all other media, should guard against being the purveyors of hate language.
“The Constitution of Zimbabwe by virtue of its being, the supreme law of the country, binds every person including the State, executive, the legislature, the judiciary and agencies of government to fulfill its obligations,” MISA said.
MISA Zimbabwe in they argument cited Section 56 the constitution which deals with equality and non-discrimination, stipulating that every person has the right not to be treated in an unfairly discriminatory manner on the grounds of their nationality, race, colour, tribe, place of birth, ethnic or social origin, language, class, religious belief, political affiliation, opinion, custom, among others.
In the 1980s Zimbabwe experienced the Gukurahundi Massacres where over 20 000 innocent civilians were killed in a vicious blood bath.
Zimbabwe has not undergone a genuine national healing process and Mutsvangwa’s reckless statements are likely to fuel animosities between the Shona and Ndebele ethnic groups in the country.
Mutsvangwa singled Ndlovu, saying he wants to: “posit as the leader of righteous Ndebele minority by fanning the psychosis of tribal victimisation.”
“Concurrently, he sows seeds of collective guilt on the Shona majority,” she charged, while also calling Ndlovu a “dyed in the wool coward.”
MISA Zimbabwe in the statement also appealed to Mutsvangwa as a public official to be exemplary in promoting national unity and peace.
“In that regard, ministers and government officials, among others, should be exemplary in upholding the supremacy of the Constitution. Equally, the media plays an important role of ensuring that it does not disseminate information that is likely to engender discrimination, hostility or enmity on the basis of one’s tribe or ethnic or social origin.
“The media should always, thus be on high alert and guard against propagating information that has the potential of triggering tribal or ethnic hostility among the citizens of Zimbabwe.
“While Section 61 of the Constitution provides for freedom of expression and media freedom, it emphasizes that these freedoms exclude, incitement to violence, advocacy of hatred or hate speech and malicious injury to a person’s reputation or dignity.
“Public officials, should in that vein, be mindful of statements that have the potential of inflaming hatred or discrimination along racial, tribal or ethnic lines and should always use temperate language in their communication or responses to issues to avert animosity and hostility among citizens,” read the statement.
MISA Zimbabwe noted the media should be impartial and afford fair opportunity for the presentation of divergent views and dissenting opinions as highlighted and advised by the Constitution in terms of the enjoyment of the rights to media freedom and freedom of expression.