Tendai Mugabe Senior Reporter
Government is ready to work positively with both the public and private media in the furtherance of the national interest, Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Dr Chris Mushohwe has said.
Dr Mushohwe said the goodwill extended to the media should be reciprocated in equal measure, failure of which Government would be left with no option except to take necessary measures in terms of the law.
By the same token, Dr Mushohwe lashed out at some Government officials whom he accused of planting stories in the media for nefarious personal agendas.
Dr Mushohwe said this yesterday to journalists at his Munhumutapa Offices where he shared his experiences in the media sector since his appointment to that brief three months ago.
“As we open a new year, which is virtually upon us, we have very definitive expectations in respect of the media industry,” he said. “We expect a high sense of professionalism and sensitivity to matters of national interest. I committed myself to working with proprietors to ensure good practices in the media.
“However, in the event that the hand of goodwill extended by Government is not reciprocated in equal measure, then Government will take corrective measures in terms of the law.”
See Statement on Page 8
Continued Dr Mushohwe: “I am committed to depolarising the media, which in my view should be defined not on the basis of ownership, but on the basis of professionalism.
“I was, however, caught flat-footed by some media proprietors who, when I challenged them about the negative stories that come up often in their publications, told me that most of those stories were being planted by some of our own leaders pursuing personal agendas.
“We say shame to such leaders because they are not different from those using the media as a tool for regime change. Government is on their cases as these figures are undermining cohesion in the party, Government and could end up dividing the country.”
Dr Mushohwe said the media industry was facing numerous challenges as a result of the illegal Western sanctions, adding that some of the problems were self inflicted.
He said sustained negative portrayal of the country and its leadership by the media had resulted in some of the economic misfortunes such as capital flight.
“In my interaction with the media proprietors, having listened to some of the challenges they were highlighting to me, I also put it to them that they had themselves to blame for failing to protect their own business interests and their own investments,” said Dr Mushohwe.
“I asked them, who needs a bad Press, who invests in a bad Press? A bad Press is simply bad, it is not good for the country, it is not good for the Government, and it is bad business.
“In the three months that I have been in charge of the media sector, I have been struck by the occurrences and intensity of bad Press targeting in many instances His Excellency the President, the First Lady and the two Vice Presidents.”
Dr Mushohwe said it was time that media owners dealt with errant reporters and editors in their stables.
As such, Dr Mushohwe said, Government, together with all stakeholders in the media industry, would embark on a retreat to come up with a new media policy.
The meeting was also attended by his deputy Cde Thokozile Mathuthu and permanent secretary Mr George Charamba.