‘Media polarisation counter productive’ Professor Moyo and his entourage at the Daily News offices
Professor Moyo and his entourage at the NewsDay offices

Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo and Deputy Minister Supa Mandiwanzira during their tour of Alpha Media Holdings

Peter Matambanadzo Senior Reporter
Government is committed to engaging the mainstream media to end polarisation that has negatively affected national interests as well as the media sector’s profitability over the years, Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo has said.Prof Moyo was speaking after a tour and meeting with Alpha Media Holdings top management and editorial team in Harare yesterday as part of his ministry’s efforts to get first hand information on challenges confronting the media.

The tour comes in the wake of similar tours the ministry made to Zimpapers, Associated News of Zimbabwe and all stakeholder engagement meetings held in Harare and Bulawayo.

“The truth though is that all of us accept that there has been polarisation. That is an acknowledged truth. It is also acknowledged that the polarisations has not been good to us from a national point of view,” Prof Moyo said. “It has not been in the national interests and going by some of the sentiments expressed on the table it has also not been good for business. It’s not profitable.”

Prof Moyo said it was important for Zimbabweans to engage each other than for them to engage with foreigners. “We should engage each other, have mutual respect and recognition of each other’s role,” he said.

The minister noted that this was the first step to take and we cannot be defined by colonisation and Zimbabwe’s media should not be an extension of other media.

“Surely when we engage we should be able to agree on some fundamental things on some important things. Some important and fundamental things about the national interests and some important and fundamental things about the business interests and then hopefully in that process we find each other. That’s the purpose of engagement.

And also if we engage it does not mean today we come out of this we come out of this important opportunity with some Magna Carta signed. It simply means we are coming with a process. We are starting with the future in mind so that we can work together,” he said.

Prof Moyo said Government has a responsibility to all Zimbabweans and it was aware that Zimbabweans have different interests, but there were important things, which brings them together. “Government is informed by the pursuit of common good, the national interest. From our visit today there are certain things, which stand out about you as a media house as Alpha Media Holdings, which we think should add to the pursuit of collective good to our country,” he said.

“We should be able to contribute together towards a national ethos which can be the basis of dealing with some of the challenges faced by media.”

He emphasised the need for media houses to put national interest first and contribute in the development of the country.
“We are here because we believe we can work together and be closer and it can be possible to have background briefings,” he said.

“Political perceptions of what Government has not been doing, difficulties in accessing the minister, problems around printing press newsprint, legal issues. You have raised issues that the President has assigned us to address,” he said.
Prof Moyo said the Government would look at various issues relating to professional and ethical standards and relating to digitalisation of the media.

“If you have other ideas on how to deal with industry issues we are really looking for that because from a policy point of view that would inform us to address some of these concerns. We would like to invite you even your written submissions,” Prof Moyo said.

Deputy Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Cde Supa Mandiwanzira also urged the private media to demonstrate its commitment to the engagement process.

“You should be honest with yourselves so that we are able to establish the right foundation for a relationship to go forward,” he said.
Cde Mandiwanzira said Government was committed to bridge that gap with a great deal of honesty. “It is important on your part to demonstrate that you are ready to engage.”

He said the ministry was committed to create a new relationship between Government and media across the spectrum.
Information, Media and Broadcasting Services permanent secretary, Mr George Charamba said the ministry had committed itself to building the information industry.

“The idea is to really begin to address industry-wide issues, be it business, institutional whatever I think let’s take advantage of this opportunity and begin to work together and stop quarrelling and accusing each other of witchcraft,” he said.

Alpha Media chairman, Mr Trevor Ncube who spoke to the minister through teleconference expressed confidence about the engagement.
“The spirit of the conversation we had last time I’m sure the team continues with it and we are really looking towards a fruitful working relationship with you and to get Zimbabwe working again,” Mr Ncube said.

Alpha Media chief executive, Mr Raphael Khumalo and his management team also outlined the challenges faced by the media group to the minister.

The minister mingled with staff as he toured the facilities asking them where they trained, and in one such interaction he got a classic, albeit revealing response from a female journalist who said she was  trained at the US embassy in Harare.

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