Lloyd Gumbo in Rusape
Zanu-PF secretary for labour and production in Manicaland province, Cde Nathan Mhiripiri yesterday disrupted an outreach of the Information and Media Panel of Inquiry in Rusape saying he had not been officially informed about it.
He also protested the inclusion of IMPI chairperson, Mr Geoffrey Nyarota, in the panel, saying he would use the forum to further MDC-T interests.
Mr Nyarota contested and lost a parliamentary race in the July 31, 2013 harmonised elections on an MDC-T ticket.
Government established IMPI to assess state of the information and media industry in Zimbabwe. It is the first such study of the information sector since independence.
Cde Mhiripiri arrived during cluster group consultations and threatened to lock people inside Vhengere Hall while some people who accompanied him said they would assault everyone.
“The person leading this delegation contested at the last elections on an MDC-T ticket,” he said. “He is now using this platform to mislead our people. I am the secretary for labour and production in this province, why was I not informed about this meeting? We don’t want our people to be misled.
“You people should go back and tell whoever sent you that Cde Mhiripiri sent us back and advised us to come back when you have informed us about the meeting.”
Cde Mhiripiri claimed Mr Nyarota had an axe to grind with Zanu-PF after his electoral loss. Mr Nyarota implored Cde Mhiripiri to stop the threats and advised him that the panel was on Government business and would fulfil its mandate.
“These meetings were advertised in the Press since last week.
“We did not have to come to Mhiripiri to inform you that there would be a meeting. It’s unfortunate that we are just starting our outreach so we have learnt a few things about how to address those issues going forward,” said Mr Nyarota.
The cluster groups prematurely ended their meetings as Cde Mhiripiri stole the show and headed to Marondera earlier than scheduled.
Both meetings had low attendance which Mr Nyarota attributed to poor communication.
“We got off to a reasonable start but the beginning of any project always entails challenges, i.e. communications about the project. In Marondera people gathered before the advertised time so by the time we got there, we found them gone. But we had a contingent plan to follow them wherever they were, like at the markets, to get their views. In Rusape, the meeting generated so much interest as we got a lot of feedback.
“However, going forward, we will ensure people are informed. The meeting in Mutare tomorrow (today) will be at Queen’s Hall not City Hall as advertised in the Press,” said Mr Nyarota.
Zimbabwe Union of Journalists secretary-general Foster Dongozi said most of the public’s submissions yesterday would contribute to growth of a better information and media sector.
“The issues being raised by journalists are that they want a national employment council and creation of an environment that is safe for their operations.
“Media consumers on the other hand are saying there is a need to improve content quality while at the same time imploring journalists to be ethical and professional,” he said.
Contributors said there was a need for the media to stop their obsession with politics and write more people-centred stories.
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They also implored all media organisations to respect the country and Government of the day.
Some contributors called for opening up of the airwaves to engender greater diversity, especially in regard to the electronic media; while national broadcaster ZTV was urged to improve its programming, though others said it was doing well under the economic circumstances.
They also hailed The Herald for providing reliable information while castigating some sections of the private media for publishing misleading and inaccurate information.