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MAZ Coordinator Sets Tone For Media Indaba

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By Nkosana Dlamini

Harare, September 06, 2017 - ZIMBABWE’S mainstream media organisations are currently meeting at a Harare hotel to chat a coordinated media strategy ahead of the country’s watershed elections due next year.

The two-day event is organised under the auspices of the Media Alliance of Zimbabwe(MAZ) along with cooperating partners.

Addresssing participants during the opening session, MAZ coordinator Nigel Nyamutumbu set the tone for the discussion with a scan of the country’s socio-political environment he said will largely inform the stance taken by Zimbabwean media as the country gears for fresh polls.

On the economic front, Nyamutumbu said the environment was currently dominated by a protracted cash crisis, emerging fuel shortages, high unemployment, shortage of drugs in the country’s hospitals, continued delays in the alignment of laws by government and tensions generated by government’s push for internet regulations.

The political environment is equally volatile with a Zanu PF push to amend the Constitution to grant a sitting President powers to handpick the country’s top judges, continued military interference in civilian affairs, Presidential interface rallies, BVR issues and intra party politics dominated by a push for an opposition grand coalition.

In terms of the media environment, what has been dominating the landscape from a government perspective has been digitisation, Nyamutumbu said.

Tensions have also emerged around telecoms mogul, Strive Masiyiwa’s Kwese TV saga which has been denied a broadcasting licence by government.

Nyamutumbu also expressed regret that government’s Independent Media Panel of Inquiry (IMPI) report has been “gathering dust amid promises of an indaba” by government.

“The safety of journalists remains a concern with a number of cases already recorded. In 2017 already, we have had serious cases where journalists have been arrested and harassed,” he said, adding that issues of media capture also remain a concern among media players.

Nyamutubu said journalists and media players are set to come up with key advocacy areas while there was need to train journalists on the Electoral Act and various components of the electoral circle.

Journalists safety also remains key.

“There is need to safe-guard the messenger during that period,” Nyamutumbu said.

He also said there was need for a concerted approach around media and gender equality, maintaining links with local and international media, archiving the media’s coverage of elections as there will be need for “empirical evidence on how we covered elections”.

Nyamutumbiu said media sustainability was also key as there was need to provide technical support to under-equipped local journalists who, by default, end up relying on politicians for transport to events.

The use of social media, professionalism, media capture now a global phenomenon will be on.

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