“What is the importance of that? It is to give the Zimbabwean citizens a fair assessment, a platform upon which they can assess the leadership qualities of the various leaders who would want to assume the position of State President,” he said.
“There should not be an unfair advantage to one of the participants because the idea is not really about having a President headed by one or another political party but the idea is to have a Zimbabwean President who is going to adhere to the desires, the interests and future desires of Zimbabweans.
“So, in order for us to be able to do that, we should be able to say all these Zimbabwean leaders vying for various political offices should be given equal access to the media; the slots should be equal so that Zimbabweans can be able to compare them in their multiplicity of ideas and promises that they have.
“This is also so that Zimbabweans can be able to say; the promises that are coming from this leader are better than the promises coming from that other leader. Hon. Speaker, we do not want a scenario where 90% of media coverage is going to a certain individual, thereby giving that individual an unfair advantage over others. We need to ensure that the playing field is indeed level in all practical instances.”
HON. P. D. SIBANDA: Thank you Hon. Speaker for allowing me to also add my input into this Bill which speaks to the manner in which elections in this country should be managed. I speak not only as a citizen but also as an interested party in the forthcoming elections. My debate will be informed by history as much as it will also be informed by the desire to have a free and fair election. As has been mentioned by the previous speakers, there can never be a situation where it is said that the electoral playing field is level if we do not speak about access to media coverage by all political players in a fair manner.
When I refer to the media in this instance, I refer to State owned public media. I am not going to dwell much on private media because like any other private enterprise, they are a profit making entity. Therefore, anything that they will cover will be aimed at ensuring that they earn a profit, but for State – owned enterprises, these are public entities which are sucking from public funds and therefore, the need for them to serve the public in an equal manner is desirable and critical.
During the days of the former President of this country, President R. G. Mugabe, especially in his final days, public media was known to cover prominently two people at the expense of everyone else. These two people were always Cde. R. G. Mugabe or Cde. Grace Mugabe. Those were the people that were prominently covered at any moment in the public media of this country. We know that everywhere Cde. Mugabe went or his wife went, ZBC would send outside broadcasting vehicles to go and beam to the whole nation what will be taking place live and at the expense of the tax payer.
After the removal of President Mugabe, we thought that things were going to change and we expected that in terms of media coverage, we will see at least a fair manner of coverage of all citizens of this country without giving prominence to certain particular individuals. However, as we currently speak, if statistics can be taken we will find that the State media, ZBC included has covered President E. D. Mnangagwa and his wife more than they have been covering anybody or any institution in this country.
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