By Prince Tongogara
Harare, November 14, 2013 – Media in Zimbabwe should be wary of getting caught in false debates but must start telling the African story honestly and candidly, local media practitioners have been warned.
This came out at a media workshop addressed by editors from both private and public media during Zimbabwe’s month long commemorations of media diversity being organised by media practitioners in partnership with the donor community.
Editor of The Star, a South African daily, Makhudu Sefara told journalists that the media had a very important role to play in a democracy and that in particular the journalists had a responsibility to posterity to accurately tell issues of our times.
“We should not be caught in false debates. The truth must be sacrosanct and it must not depend on who we sell our labour to,” Sefara said.
He added that it is important that the media should not exaggerate issues or else its credibility will be questioned.
“We must not exaggerate our own situation if we exaggerate we will expose ourselves and ultimately our credibility goes down,” he added.
Sefara in stressing his point further quoted Ngugi waThiongo who said, “Africa needs back its patriotic writers.”
He, however, qualified that being patriotic meant ‘the African story has not been told as full and honestly and adequately as possible.’
The workshop was also addressed by Zimbabwe Independent editor Dumisani Muleya and The Herald editor Caesar Zvayi.
Muleya said the coming back of Jonathan Moyo as Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister was good for the media fraternity particularly his re-engagement approach.
“Professor Moyo’s return was a progressive and useful appointment after the elections and this has been enhanced by his reengagement because that is what the media has been looking for,” Muleya said.
However, Muleya, the award winning journalist added the media should remain vigilant despite the government softening of its stance on the sector.
“We must remain vigilant, alert and skeptical of the government because of our past experiences despite these new overtures by the Information minister,” he added.
On the other hand Zvayi said that the media should remain factual in its news reporting but have diversified opinions on its editorial pages.
“On our news we should remain factual but I will use the opinion pages to advocate strongly on my positions on certain matters,” Zvayi said.
He added that he welcomed the thawing of relations between the public and private media after more than a decade of acrimony.
“In the past we could not sit together like this and this was because for the last 13 years we were not in a normal environment,” he added.
The media diversity campaign is being supported by the Embassy of the Kingdoms of Netherlands, Norwegian Embassy, Hivos, Embassy of Denmark in partnership with local media organisations. The local groups include Media Institute of Southern Africa-Zimbabwe chapter, Alpha Media Holdings, Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Association of Community Radio Stations and 263chat.