EDITORIAL COMMENT : The bane of media misinformation

20 Feb, 2019 - 00:02 0 Views
EDITORIAL COMMENT : The bane of media misinformation President Mnangagwa

The Herald

GOVERNMENT, through the Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services on Monday dismissed false and misleading private media reports claiming President Mnangagwa threatened to track down lawyers who represented rioters during the MDC-Alliance instigated violence last month.

It was also reported that the President threatened doctors who treated the wounded.

The private media went further to allege that in his address at the Mwenezi rally on Saturday, President Mnangagwa threatened one of the funders of Command Agriculture Mr Kuda Tagwirei for withholding fuel, a development which affected the success of the programme.

All these reports by the private media packaged as facts, were false. Some of the said remarks by the President were wholly-taken out of context and sadly so by journalists who know what he actually said as they attended the rally. What is worrying is that this was not a mistake.

That it was not a mistake is confirmed by failure by the publishers to retract the misleading information, which by all intent points to a well-orchestrated anti-President Mnangagwa agenda setting project. It did not start in Mwenezi per se.

It has been going on for some time now. This anti-Government narrative was hyped especially towards the 32nd Ordinary Session of the African Union (AU) Assembly held in Addis Ababa early this month and in the run-up to the review of illegal sanctions on Zimbabwe by the European Union (EU).

Towards these two events, the private media characteristically toiled to frame President Mnangagwa’s administration as a regime that wantonly violates human rights and undeserving of a place in the community of nations.

The media went to town even without investigating their allegations, including grave allegations that security forces had systematically raped women during the alleged crackdown on rioters and that rape was being used as an instrument of repression in Zimbabwe.

Statements by the opposition MDC-Alliance and its allies in the non-governmental organisations (NGO) sector were published as facts and headline-after-headline screamed abuse of citizens by their Government. This deliberate framing of Government as barbaric was all meant to set the agenda for the AU and EU.

Students of journalism will quickly relate to the framing and agenda-setting role of the media.

The traditional media was to be abetted by social media where the same anti-Zimbabwe forces in the opposition and NGOs were aided by some characters such as self-exiled G40 cabalist Professor Jonathan Moyo, who upped the ante in the pursuit of his well-storied personal agenda against President Mnangagwa.

The target by both was not the Zimbabwean citizen, but the international community as represented by the AU and EU. We were suddenly thrown into familiar territory — the world was set against Zimbabwe with President Mnangagwa packaged as a man who took over from Mr Robert Mugabe and failed to reform an “oppressive system”. The story that the MDC-Alliance had instigated violence was never told by the private media.

The other side of the story — the wanton destruction of property and lawlessness by the opposition — was not told.

It will also be recalled that whereas the anti-Zimbabwe crusade ran some outrageous lies such as peddling false reports about people’s deaths, they never corrected the misinformation when investigations exposed the lies.

The Herald, which consistently and correctly called the orchestrated anti-Zimbabwe campaign, exposed some of these lies in particular the highly sensational cases of Tinashe Kaitano and Elizabeth Zimunda.

And now that the AU Summit has ended and the EU made its ritual of reviewing sanctions on Zimbabwe — the cacophony has died down.

There is much reduced volume from Jonathan Moyo, the private media and NGOs — on the allegations against Government they so much vigorously promoted in the run up to the two events.

We are supposed to forget about their noises, as though they never happened.

Until the next agenda item and pay cheque!

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