HARARE – Early July, Zimbabweans woke up to a barrage of jingle-type music on the state-controlled Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC)’s.
They showered biased praises on President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu (PF) party, seriously undermining the relevance of the two other parties (both called MDC) in the shaky coalition government led by Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara.
Disc jockeys play the jingles every thirty minutes on the instructions of a Zanu (PF) minister Webster Shamu who controls the information ministry.
The MDCs put the matter on the cabinet’s agenda and were promised that the jingles would be removed immediately. Despite this promise, the songs still dominate the airwaves and the belittled parties have now referred the issue to South African president Jacob Zuma who is the mediator on Zimbabwean unity government matters.
ZBC and pro-Zanu (PF) political commentators have been defiant with a display of outright arrogance. They argue that the partisan songs are revolutionary in nature and remind people about the bitter liberation war of the 1960s and 1970s.
In defence, Rugare Gumbo, Zanu (PF) publicity chief asserts: “The songs just ensure that our people don’t forget where we are coming from as a nation. Ours, unlike other parties is a revolutionary party, with a history of the present and of the future.”
Nelson Chamisa, spokesman of Prime Minister Tsvangirai’s larger MDC party said: “ZBC’s portrayal of us is always negative, degrading and excruciating. It is always portraying the MDC-T as a ‘ragtag’ of an organisation. These hate songs seriously undermine the credibility and confidence of the inclusive government. It’s a grab and take-all scenario reminiscent of yester-year politics when Zanu (PF) was the only song in town”
Zanu (PF) could be positioning itself for possible elections in the near future. Facing a credibility crisis in recent years, the party through its over repeated songs may have won the hearts and minds of some adults and children, who now suddenly find themselves singing along and gyrating like the originators, Mbare Chimurenga Choir which has sprung to notoriety in recent months.
Political analysts say propaganda has been employed before but with disastrous results for the former sole ruling party. Meanwhile, rights movements are very angry at the way women are always used to divide the nation through divisive music and indecent dances during campaigns.
Constitution making snubbed
While happy to bombard the nation with partisan songs, the ZBC has downplayed the on-going constitution-making and national healing outreach programmes.
“ZBC won’t play constitution jingles. We are struggling to get airtime on ZBC-TV and radio to play our information jingles” complained Douglas Mwonzora, co-chairman of the parliamentary constitution making committee.