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Zanu PF, MDC-T Hog Media Space As Poll Looms: Survey

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By Nkosana Dlamini

Harare, June 13, 2018 - A recent survey by media based NGO, Media Monitors has revealed that Zanu PF and the MDC-T have dominated nearly the entire public and private media space during the period leading up to the July 30 elections.

The baseline survey, which sought to enquire into the behaviour of the local press during the electoral period, was conducted between 11 and 24 February this year using both quantitative and qualitative methodology.

Media organisations sampled included national dailies such as The Herald, Chronicle, NewsDay and Daily News; weeklies The Independent, Standard, Sunday Mail while radio stations monitored were StarFM, ZiFM, SFM and Radio Zimbabwe with ZTV also monitored.

“Overall the monitored print and electronic news outlets focused almost entirely on Zanu PF and MDC-T representatives, providing 94 % of their coverage to these two parties,” reads the survey which was launched Tuesday at an event attended by representatives of various media groups and journalists.

Although Zimbabwe has nearly 130 political parties that have registered with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, its electoral race remains a tight contest between the two main parties that have dominated local politics for decades.

Says the report; “Zanu PF and MDC-T took up 94% of the total space devoted to political forces, while the other 16 political parties covered by the media took up the remaining 6%. This shows a heavy focus on the activities of the two main political parties by the print media.

“The electronic media allocated 22,177 seconds to coverage of political actors during the monitoring period. Once again, Zanu PF and MDC-T accounted for 93% of the time allocated to political parties and players. The remaining three political parties and independent candidates featured in 6% of the time.”

The report further reveals that the State media has dedicated loads of media space on positive coverage towards President Emmerson Mnangagwa, his wife and the ruling Zanu PF party while the private media has focused mainly on the main opposition MDC-T and its leader Nelson Chamisa.

“To sum up, in terms of space and time taken up by political players, coverage appears to be heavily skewed towards the two main political parties at the expense of other smaller political parties,” says the report.

It emerged that the death of former MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai February this year and physical attacks which were directed at then party Vice President Thokozani Khupe also received generous coverage from both public and private media.

NewsDay editor Wisdom Mudzungairi said the private publication has done its best to grant coverage to other less known political players although he was quick to defend the paper’s continued focus on Mnangagwa and Chamisa.

Mudzungairi said in the two were the main actors on the country’s political front and would naturally be found occupying much of the media space adding that this brought “mileage” to the individual publications.

Speaking during the same occasion, former Media Institute of Southern Africa director Takura Zhangazha also urged the media to protect its profession by ensuring the interests of publishers and advertisers did not interfere with their editorial space.

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