CCC Accuses Deputy Minister Of Lying Over Free Broadcast Airtime On ZBC
Zimbabwe’s main opposition party, CCC, has rubbished claims by Deputy Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Kindness Paradza that opposition political parties in the country are reluctant to utilise free airtime that the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) provides them to reach out to potential voters.
Paradza told diplomatic missions accredited to Zimbabwe that ZBC has slots such as the Ballot, the Candidate, the Manifesto, and the Constituency Indaba for all political parties on all four radio channels and television stations to deliver their messages free of charge.
However, in a statement released this Tuesday, 25 July in response to Paradza’s claims, CCC spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere said nothing could be further from the truth. Reads the statement:
ZBC, STATE MEDIA REPORTING UNCONSTITUTIONAL & BIASED IN FAVOUR OF ZANU PF
Citizens’ Coalition for Change notes false claims by the Deputy Information Minister, Kindness Paradza, that the opposition is “refusing to take up airtime on ZBC.”
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It is a matter of public record that ZBC refuses to give any independent or fair coverage to the CCC, our Presidential Candidate, Adv Nelson Chamisa, our star rallies, our cluster rallies, our rural penetration drive, our campaign 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 in contravention of the Constitution and Electoral Law.
Section 61 of the Constitution obliges state media to be impartial and to afford a fair opportunity for the presentation of divergent views and dissenting opinions.
Additionally, the Electoral Law including sections 160G and 160J of the Electoral Act require state media to be fair and grant balanced allocation of time and prominence between Zanu PF and the CCC.
The CCC is legally entitled to equitable treatment including a reasonable opportunity to present our case.
It is a matter of public record that, the state media in general and ZBC in particular, have failed to comply with the law.
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 the skewed news and current affairs coverage that is heavily biased in favour of Mr Mnangagwa and Zanu PF in terms of content, support and time allocation (over 90%).
This unconstitutional conduct cascades as far as the Permanent Secretary for Information who has a constitutional obligation to act in a non-partisan manner as a civil servant.
Instead, he has demonstrated clear support for Zanu PF in the exercise of his functions. His conduct in this regard offends section 200 of the Constitution and further undermines the ability of state media to act in a non-partisan manner as is required by law.
For the avoidance of doubt, the CCC is available to participate on all fairly-moderated platforms that accord with the Constitutional standard.
We further challenge the ZBC to afford our Presidential Candidate, Adv Nelson Chamisa, the opportunity, on a live and unfettered platform, to present his message of hope to the nation, in the same way in which it provides live, wall-to-wall coverage of Mr Mnangagwa, Zanu PF activities and Zanu PF rallies.
State media coverage must never be biased, manipulated or unjustifiably skewed to present the Citizens’ Movement in a bad light.
We draw the attention of state media, stakeholders, the public and election observers to the Government’s refusal to follow the recommendations of the 2018 SADC and the African Union election observer missions.
The reports found that the coverage by ZBC of the elections was “in favour of one political party, contrary to the relevant provisions of the Constitution, the Electoral Act, and the Revised SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections, which requires State-owned media to be impartial.”
Regrettably, our state media and ZBC have failed to reform.
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