ZBC Denies CCC Allegations Of Bias | Full Statement
The Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) has denied allegations by the opposition CCC party that its coverage of the 2023 general elections is biased.
On Tuesday, 25 July, CCC spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere issued a statement saying that “it is a matter of public record that ZBC refuses to give any independent or fair coverage to the CCC” leader Nelson Chamisa.
In response, ZBC said that everything it has done is within the confines of the Constitution of Zimbabwe. Reads the statement:
ZBC Election Coverage
The Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation notes with concern a statement released by the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) spokesperson Ms Fadzai Mahere.
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The statement dated 25 July 2023 has serious allegations to the effect that the ZBC in particular has failed to comply with the law in the coverage of the 2023 General election.
The ZBC is alive to the fact that it is a National Broadcaster and its elections coverage is guided by the laws of the land in this case, The Electoral Act (Chapter 2:13) and the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment number 20 of 2013 of particular note Section 61.
The ZBC appreciates that according to the Electoral Act, the election season runs from the day of the Proclamation of the election dates until the day of the inauguration of the winner of the Presidential election.
In this case, our election season began on Wednesday the 31st of May 2023 and will end on the day of the inauguration of the Presidential winner.
Guided by the Electoral Act that requires the National Broadcaster to ‘equitably’ distribute free airtime to contesting political parties, on Proclamation Day, the ZBC had a news story aired on the Main News (8 pm television) and other bulletins including all the six radio stations under the ZBC stable namely, Radio Zimbabwe, National FM, Power FM, Classic 263, Khulumani FM and Central Radio.
The story featured the three main political parties at that stage namely CCC, MDC A and ZANU PF. From the CCC it was Fadzai Mahere who spoke on behalf of her party. (ZBC Main News bulletins are a matter of public record and can be viewed on ZBC News Online stream on Facebook as the bulletins are streamed).
On the day of the nomination Court i.e. Wednesday the 21st of June, ZBC News covered and aired a story that featured CCC President Mr. Nelson Chamisa commenting about the nomination process.
The following day 22 June, again Mr. Chamisa was on the news commenting about double candidates.
ZBC News that their party has made a decision not to speak with the ZBC. This statement has however not stopped the ZBC from seeking interviews from other CCC candidates.
The ZBC as a National Broadcaster respects journalistic ethics such as fairness, accuracy, balance, objectivity and confidentiality of sources but also respects the rights of individuals not to speak to the media.
It is also important to note that the ZBC is independent ad has a competent editorial team that understands what to publish and how to publish it.
Even an election season doesn’t take away this editorial independence that is provided for by the Constitution of Zimbabwe Section 61 (4) ‘All state-owned media of communication are:
(a) free to determine the editorial content of their broadcasts or other communications’ The Supreme law of the land thus gives the ZBC editorial independence to decide what and how to publish though. Section 61 (5) of the Constitution also gives ZBC the basis of its editorial policy.
According to the law, ZBC is mandated with offering political parties a discount of 30 percent during prime time.
Other political parties have submitted their advertisements and to date, the National Broadcaster is yet to receive any such from the CCC.
No right is absolute
All content including the commercial content is subject to editorial scrutiny as provided by the law in section 61 of the constitution of Zimbabwe.
61(5) ‘Freedom of expression and freedom of the media excludes-
(a) Incitement to violence
(b) Advocacy of hatred or hate speech
(c) Malicious injury to a person’s reputation or dignity
(d) Malicious unwarranted breach of a person’s right to privacy
As the Constitution provides, we therefore urge political players not to use hate speech, misinformation among others as this cannot be broadcast on ZBC platforms.
While it is understood that elections are an emotive subject and that the campaign is hot and might cause frustrations, it is however unfair to vent these frustrations on the ZBC.
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