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Opinion / Columnist

Mnangagwa and his Ministers are not the story

by Bishop
25 Mar 2018 at 08:52hrs | Views
ABOUT two weeks ago, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services and Presidential Press Secretary, Mr George Charamba wrote a thought-provoking article titled; "ED's 100 Days: Defying Horace's Burden" which appeared in this paper.

In that article, Mr Charamba wrote something that I found quite revealing and profound. He said: "Beyond this insincerity, who does not know that at the heart of what commentators have glibly termed succession battles which raged in the ruling party before this new era, was a clash of contending visions on post-Land Reform Zimbabwe?

"That pitted against a greedy and ambitious cabal was a group of veteran-cadres, both inside and outside Government, who saw beyond the worn and staid rhetoric of old nationalism and Cold-War type of anti-Western politics which though central to the liberation struggle and the recovery of Land, had become a needless cost after 2015?

"Or that this firebrand rhetoric had become a smokescreen for primitive accumulation by a few, while duping the youths through empty promises of indigenisation and empowerment for which there is absolutely nothing to show on the ground as I write?

"Except of course a badly depressed economy, an isolated country and high incidences of corruption?"

The piece by Mr Charamba was profound in two ways. First was the revelation that there were contending visions on the post-Land Reform Zimbabwe in Zanu-PF with one "greedy and ambitious cabal" against "veteran cadres" who "saw beyond the worn and staid rhetoric of old nationalism and Cold-War type of anti-Western politics." This revelation was quite refreshing even more so when Mr Charamba added that ". . . which though central to the liberation struggle and recovery of the Land, had become a needless cost after 2015?"

The import of the statement by Mr Charamba was that after 2015 and especially after the land reform exercise, we should have changed communication strategies and tactics. If we look back dear congregants, we see that indeed Mr Charamba was dead right. We shouldn't have continued with confrontational politics. Inga wani after winning a fist fight, you don't continue kunyomba the guy you have beaten. Instead you say; "handiti waona kurwa hakuna kunaka." Zvino baba vangu Moyo iwe, takaramba tongotsondokota kusvika isu vacho takuzvikuvadza. In this regard I mean both the private-owned and public-owned media. We are all guilty as charged.

Even the Holy Book in Ephesians 4 vs 26 is very clear. It says: "In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry." The sun went down while we were still angry.

Secondly, the narrative was profound because Mr Charamba gave a honest explanation why the sun went down while we were still angry saying "…this firebrand rhetoric had become a smokescreen for primitive accumulation by a few, while duping the youths through empty promises of indigenisation and empowerment for there is absolutely nothing to show on the ground as a write."

The honesty by Mr Charamba was mind-blowing. This is someone who was the spokesperson of the former President for quite a long time and so he knows what he is talking about. We should all learn from the mistakes of the past. Never again!

Talking about learning from the past, it seems as if quite a number of my good friends in the media haven't yet learnt a thing.

They are still stuck in the "worn and staid rhetoric" of the past. It's very possible I will be crucified here, because journalists for some strange reasons think they are immune to criticism but then kana Jesu akaroverwa pamuchinjikwa nenyaya yezvitadzo zvedu, who am I?

Journalists from both the public-owned and private-owned media are to blame. Hona matombo abatwa kwanzi Bishop isu hatinzwaro? Well, the truth shall set me free.

Let me start with journalists from the private-owned media in the country.

These scribes are still stuck in the mood and mode of the gone era. Just look at the way they are trying to create a rift between President Mnangagwa and the former President Mugabe. There is still an obsession for confrontational and divisive news.

Granted, the former President is really spoiling for a fight with President Mnangagwa and indeed it's a good story, but hey good people, the biggest story is that Zimbabweans want to move on with their lives and they want to live an enjoyable life.

If the former President, his wife marujata Grace and Professor Jonathan Moyo still want politics dzebopoto, let them exercise their freedom of expression on social media.

Let's not cover them as if we approve of what they are doing. Ngatirege kupembedza mapenzi.

Since he took over, President Mnangagwa has been focusing on the economy, economy and the economy. During the first days, some people thought the President was playing some political games, but slowly the pessimism is giving way to optimism. Ngwena iri serious imi vanhu vaMwari. There is some good vibes going on in the country even though the President still has some serious work to do.

There is need for my good friends in the private-owned media to shift focus because the negative story, while it may excite one or two people, will not sustain the organisations. Audiences have shifted to positivity and so as the media our job is to follow those audiences.

I know some of my friends will say "hatiudzwe zvekuita naBishop" and I know there is something called the political economy of the media which dictates the goings on in newsrooms but its high time we differ constructively. Kungoratidza kuti tinofungawo so.

This past week, I was shocked that on a day that Zimbabwe signed a 4,2 billion mining deal, the private-owned media decided to downplay this investment deal.

Of course I know some people must be tired of hearing these big-sounding billions, but hey people, that 4,2 billion deal was not some memorandum of understanding.

It's a done deal with set time-frames. That deal is historic.

Besides that deal, several companies are opening and re-opening, but still these positive developments are downplayed in the private-owned media yet day in and day out, we scream kuti hakuna mabasa and people are looking for jobs. Hewozve mabasa acho nhai vanhuwe!

Then we come to the public-owned media. In their own way, some of my good friends in the public-owned media are still stuck in the past.

They still think the story is where the President is and the story is where the Ministers are. When they follow the President and the Ministers they think they are doing a wonderful job.

They actually think they are doing the President and the Ministers a big service.

Look, it's all good and fine to cover stories by the President and the Ministers. These are the biggest sources of news, but they are not the news. Now because of this mentality of thinking the President and his Ministers are the news, very important stories are dying as soon as the President and the Ministers leave.

These stories will be resurrected the day the President and the Ministers revisit them. That's lazy journalism, if you ask me.

Take for example, when the historic 4,2 billion deal was signed last week. On that day, ZBC-TV did a fantastic job talking to different analysts who commented on the deal. The next day, the story disappeared completely from News Hour. Completely dead. The President and his Ministers had moved on to other projects and so the 4,2 billion story died.

Semakwayi kumafuro the scribes follow the President and his Ministers on their next assignments. They cover these next assignments and the stories die again soon after. As a result, we have zvitunha zvemastories all over the country. Even a sensitive story like that of the striking doctors becomes a story only when the Minister of Health has said something, yet people are dying. It's really said.

Due to this lazy approach, investment deals are not subjected to interrogation and set timelines are easily forgotten. The journalists think they are doing the President and his Ministers a great service, but the greatest service is to ensure that these investment deals are unpacked so that there is accountability and transparency.

Speaking to delegates while opening the Zanu-PF Extraordinary Congress in December last year President Mnangagwa said: "The role you have given me and the office you have inserted me into, can never be partitioned to anyone.

"The praise song I desire, if you were to sing one, is that of our national anthem and those from the liberation struggle, not for myself, no! If you sing the national anthem, if you sing those national songs then me and you are together."

While this statement was directed to Zanu-PF supporters, all journalists who think the President and his Ministers are the story are no different from the ruling party supporters who sing songs to praise the President. Journalists should take this statement to mean "don't follow me, follow the story" because journalists sing through their stories.

Some uncomfortable truths there handiti? Kikikiki! And please don't get me wrong, Bishop Lazarus munhu wamwari but is not claiming to be God's gift to journalism. Kungowonesana. Ngatibude muhandaka.

In an article entitled; "Journalism Ethics" published in 2008, Stephen Ward asserts that the social utility of journalism is centred on its ability to function as a provider of public knowledge, and truthful, comprehensive and intelligent accounts of news and events. This is what a journalist in these ED times should thrive to do, kwete kuita mutswe weNgwena.

Over the years, the profession has been hit hard by arm chair journalists, then came the "copy and paste" generation with sedentary journalism practice and so surely, we can't add story-murderers to this worrying list.

Bishop is out!

Source - sundaymail
All articles and letters published on Bulawayo24 have been independently written by members of Bulawayo24's community. The views of users published on Bulawayo24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Bulawayo24. Bulawayo24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.

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