Keep Public Officials On Their Toes, Citizen Journalists Urged

By Nhau Mangirazi

Karoi, November 11, 2016 – A top civic group leader has warned against the undermining of the role of citizen journalists play in covering additional issues that affect the citizenry.

Addressing participants during a recent capacity building training workshop for citizen journalists in Karoi, Centre for Community Development in Zimbabwe (CCDZ) director Phillip Pasirayi said non-mainstream journalists were also critical in keeping the state accountable on human rights and service delivery, among other important obligations.

He also challenged citizen journalists to be on guard for an informed nation.

“The Bill of rights gives the State obligation to account for our needs including right to clean water, food, health facilities, better service delivery among other rights,” Pasirayi said.

“You must not be ashamed that you have failed to pay school fees, government must meet that obligation. As citizen journalists, you must not therefore let loose those sleeping on duty including councils, central government. They must deliver.”

Pasirayi called on citizen journalists to be well versed with issues of national importance to be able to probe pertinent issues in attempts to enforce the positive delivery of services.

“An elected public official including the President, Senator, Member of Parliament and councillor must be accountable to the citizens and it is your duty as citizen journalists to empower the communities with credible, informative community based   stories that affect them daily.

“It is not a crime to ask why there is no water, burst sewer pipes, no medication in hospitals; rather state actors must provide answers and action to rectify worsening crisis affecting us all. They must provide this as duty bearers,” he said.

Media trainer Ernest Mudzengi also warned citizen journalists to be wary of creating unnecessary conflict through unverified stories.

“Try to research on a story that you are pursuing. Minimize harm by being truthful, objective, balanced and respect everyone right to privacy,” Mudzengi said.

“We want well-articulated stories that build trust in what we do and give authorities a run for their money. They must deliver.

“Do not trigger unfounded allegations but get your facts right and do not photo-shop pictures. As citizen journalists, you have a right to inform your audiences truthfully.”

The training is going to be a catalyst for citizen participation ahead of 2018 general elections as the crashing service delivery currently being experienced in the country clearly outweighs Zanu PF government promises in 2013.

The advent of social media has enabled ordinary citizens the chance to also capture newsy items in their areas, posting them to the attention of the world.

However, the innovation has brought its own challenges as the often untrained citizen journalists have been found posting raw footage of road accidents, offensive and unverified material.