Fake news disrupting  ‘country’s growth trajectory’ The mainstream media should play a significant role in fact-checking news.

Tracy Machekwa-Correspondent

Today, democracy and development are being weakened by lies that come in waves and pound our senses. 

Leaders who play by the rules are having trouble staying ahead of a relentless news cycle; they devote too much effort in trying to disprove stories that seem to come out of nowhere, yet crafted solely to disrupt the peace of the society. 

Such has been the case for Zimbabwe, fake news has gathered momentum in the country. 

The past few months have seen the Second Republic putting out more fires than ever before as a result of the menacing problem that is fake news. 

Zimbabwe has risen against all odds to re-define its historic predicament.

The western economic sanctions designed to cripple the country’s economy left the country “scarred but not scarred for life’. 

The Second Republic under the capable leadership of President Mnangagwa stepped up to the challenge and started building the country brick-by-brick. 

The Government has been up in arms fighting to transform Zimbabwe to a middle income economy. The Government has taken up the task of making economic and political reforms aimed at transmuting Zimbabwe for the betterment of all its citizens. 

Although the journey has been long and hard, the Government’s re-engagement efforts are gaining ground, and the international community is slowly warming up to Zimbabwe’s foreign engagement policy. 

Zimbabwe’s resilience is finally turning heads. More and more countries are coming forward seeking bilateral relations with our country.

The country’s agricultural sector’s success story also inspired other African countries during the Second Feed Africa Summit which was held in Dakar, Senegal recently. 

In spite of the Government’s palpable pure intentions, anti-Government media outfits have taken every chance and opportunity to discredit the State’s efforts. 

Humiliating and criticising the Government’s efforts has become their daily diet. 

In a polarised political climate Zimbabwe is in fact battling a new wave of “false news platforms” and the proliferation of doctored narratives. 

“Regime change” influenced media outlets are seeing their audiences grow as a result of falsified information. 

However, the tide of fake news has negative repercussions on the country’s growth trajectory. 

The attainment of the country’s Vision 2030 agenda relies on the unity of Zimbabweans working harmoniously with all hands on deck. 

The phenomenon of fake news is destroying the harmony and peace in society. 

Political opportunists and pure criminals have taken advantage of people’s desire to know what is happening around them by feeding them poison, some of which borders on being a national security threat.

The media has long been recognised as the cornerstone of democracy as it plays an important role in influencing unity and peace. 

The non-state media has been caught misleading the public for political gain.

Media commentators have argued that efforts to fight misinformation through fact-checking are “not working” (Levin 2017) and that misinformation overall is “becoming unstoppable” (Ghosh and Scott 2018). 

Reporting negatively about Government initiatives has become the new order of the day. Fake news sell the paper and its effects on the country are underestimated.

Zimbabwe is currently undergoing a facelift and fake news has rendered the work futile. 

Fake news and negative reportage taints the image of our country and affects our day-to-day business endeavours with other countries, shying away prospective investors. 

The overall aim of media coverage during elections campaigns in democracies is fair and objective reporting and encourages peace and unity.

His Excellency, President Mnangagwa has pleaded with the media to take up the role of encouraging peace and harmony ahead of this year’s harmonised elections. 

The President highlighted that the elections must maintain and consolidate the current peace, unity, harmony, and love that we have built. 

This has been backed by the United Nations Human Rights Office (OHCHR), who have called for peace in the upcoming elections.

This is essentially important on the country’s path towards having the sanctions removed. 

The anti-Government continues to hype the narrative that the ruling Zanu PF is using violence and abuse as part of its campaign strategy.

These claims are in fact uncalled for because none of them have been proven in court. Some opposition elements have taken it upon themselves to stage manage events and laud pointless issues at the expense of the well-being of our country. 

This in turn wrecks our chances of freeing our beloved and cherished country from the yoke of sanctions. 

The Second Republic is doing a lot and has accomplished a lot in the past five years. 

Some sections of the media are negating its duties by clouding Zimbabwe’s hard work and choosing to report negatively instead of reporting on what the Government has achieved. Transformation will only be realised from what Zimbabweans have to offer instead of what Zimbabwe is not offering. 

The media therefore becomes important by focusing on highlighting the investment opportunities that Zimbabwe has to offer across all sectors of the economy. 

Media transparency will improve the efficiency of the economy by providing actors more and better information that will connect investors with our local companies. 

In the midst of all the tumult Zimbabwe remains our motherland, therefore it remains the duty of Zimbabweans to work harmoniously and proudly carry out their duties and responsibilities which will subsequently push the country to greater and better heights.

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