CCC, Govt haggle over ZBC airtime

Libinance Dokora

Government and the main opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) party are engaged in a war of words over coverage of the latter on State media.

The haggling started when a junior minister claimed that CCC was not taking offers for coverage and airtime on the
Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, a claim swiftly dismissed by the party.

In a statement Tuesday, party spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere said State media had sidelined CCC in coverage,
and was biased in favour of the ruling Zanu-PF.

“It is a public record that ZBC refuses to give any independent or fair coverage tone CCC, our presidential candidate, Advocate Nelson Chamisa, our star rallies, our cluster rallies, our rural penetration drive, our campaign n messages or any of our wide ranging political activities,

“Not only is the state media’s coverage unequal, but whatever token coverage is accorded to the opposition is biased, derogatory and manipulated by in contravention of the Constitution and
Electoral law,” she said.

Section 61 of the Constitution obliges state media to be impartial and afford a fair opportunity for the presentation of divergent and dissenting opinions coupled with the electoral law which including sections 160G and 160J of the Electoral Act require media to be fair and grant balanced allocation of time and prominence between ZANU PF and
the CCC.

Mahere further added that instead of the state media to serve its constitutional mandate it has deviated to be an instrument of the ruling party while paying a blind eye to opposition parties, “said Mahere.

“Instead of acting independently and in a fair manner, Zimbabwe’s state media has degenerated into a political reporting arm for ZANU PF as demonstrated by skewed news and current affairs coverage that is heavily biased in
favour of Mr Mnangagwa and ZANU PF in terms of content and time allocation,” she said.

CCC challenged the state media to afford them an opportunity for their activities to be aired on the polarized
television.

However, in an escalation of the war of words, Permanent Secretary for Information, Publicity and Broadcasting
Service, Nick Mangwana today said the opposition party snubbed the time which was allocated to it by the state’s broadcaster as enshrined in the Electoral Act while making unrealistic demands for their commercial advertisements to be aired.

“The position of the government is that the public broadcaster is there to serve all. This includes all political parties, all natural and juristic persons.

From our preliminary inquiry, we have been made to understand that there are challenges with bringing CCC people on air as they either don’t want to come to programmes or they have internal contradictions which give them a challenge on deciding who should moderate or appear on the programme and how the programme should be
structured,”

“When it comes to the airing of CCC adverts, ZBC reports that CCC leadership has unrealistic expectations that ZBC
should do the commercial for them. This is a misunderstanding of the public broadcaster’s role,” he said.

Mangwana also added that the government’s involvement with the state broadcaster ends in policy making and
does not interfere with the operations of the broadcaster as alleged by the main opposition party.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) dismissed the allegations which were leveled against it by the CCC citing that the public broadcaster availed free airtime to all political players and political parties with other main opposition party candidates utilizing the service while others spurned the opportunity on a political candidates
programme as no special treatment should be given to one political candidate over another.

“On the day of the nomination court Wednesday the 21st of June ZBC covered a story that featured CCC President
Nelson Chamisa commenting about the nomination process.

The following day again 22 June Mr Chamisa was on the news commenting on the double candidates,” said ZBC.

“On 19 July 2023, the opposition party spokesperson Ms Fadzai Mahere was featured in news commenting on the double candidates,”

ZBC maintains that it’s editorial is independent and free from the manipulation of the government.

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