By Amos Maseko
Harare, January 31, 2015 – Zimbabwe’s private media have been found to
be publishing the most offending stories with the Daily News topping
the list of complaints made against local papers by mostly private
A report just released by the Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe
(VMCZ) depicts that 11 of a total 33 complaints made against
local papers and radio stations between September 2013 and September
2014 were against the privately owned paper.
“Most of the complaints filed during the period under review were
against the conduct of the privately owned daily newspapers,” reads
the VMCZ report, which was launched in Harare Thursday.
The Daily News’s main competitor, Newsday followed a distant second
with five complaints against it while the Herald, the flagship paper
among state controlled publications, ironically had two complaints
filed against during the entire year. The Chronicle, its sister
publication, had a single complaint against it.
Says the VMCZ report: “Notably, no complaints were received against
tabloids such as H-Metro and B-Metro.
“However, lack of complaints against the tabloids during this time
cannot be read as a sign of public satisfaction with the ethical and
professional conduct of these media. Rather it can suggest public
resignation to the way these media operate and a sense of futility in
complaints against them among other possible explanations.”
Of those who filed complaints against the local media, 14 were private
citizens while seven were church leaders and other prominent
Civil society organisations weighed in with three complaints, with the
rest coming from business, government institutions and lawyers.
Among those who made complaints against the local press were the then
Energy Minister Dzikamai Mavhaire, who took issue with a September 3,
2014 Zimbabwe Independent story which suggested he abused his powers
to write off electricity bills owed to the country’s power utility,
ZESA, by a Zanu PF faction he belonged to.
Tendai Biti of the MDC Renewal Team also took matters with the Daily
News early last year after the paper alleged he had teamed up with
Zanu PF and Western donors to cause anarchy within the opposition
Speaking during the launch of the document Thursday, William Dhewa,
who chairs parliaments’ portfolio committee on media, information and
broadcasting services called for a wider distribution of VMCZ
publications to create awareness among the greater public and scholars
as this will allow them to “interact and engage constructively in
efforts to improve media professionalism in the country”.
He added: “I want to appeal to media organisations to reflect on the
recommendations from the various reports launched today and action
positive aspects of the recommendations in order to improve the
quality of media reportage in the country.
“Despite our diversity, l am hopeful that we will be able through open
dialogue and critical analysis to revitalise efforts towards achieving
the professional and ethical standards that we aspire to be.”