Is there media capture in Zimbabwe?

By Tafadzwa Muranganwa

Media Alliance of Zimbabwe (MAZ) this week held a media conference with a view to find out if there is indeed media capture in the country as is alleged by some sections of society.

There has been concern over the state of affairs of the media in Zimbabwe and the situation was further worsened by the licencing of radio stations.

A few years ago, the country made significant progress in trying to open up the broadcasting space, by licencing two commercial radio stations one owned by Zimpapers (Star FM) and AB Communications (ZiFM).

However, since then, licencing of radio stations has been limited to subsidiaries of these two companies prompting people to allege there is media capture especially by the state.

Veteran journalist and Zimbabwe Independent editor Dumisani Muleya says there is nothing wrong in moguls investing in the industry but says there is every reason to worry about when there is editorial intrusion by the investors.

“When we have investors having interest in the media business there is the nothing wrong about that but if it then it turns out like what the Guptas in South Africa were doing by interfering with the editorial policy then that is when we say its media capture,” he said.

According to Muleya ZimPapers publications such as The Herald, Sunday Mail and The Chronicle and many others are under heavy-state-control with the main culprit being Secretary for information, media and broadcasting services George Charamba.

“It is clear that Zimpapers publications have been captured and they have been at the mercy of George Charamba since the minister is not in charge and privy to all these developments,” he said.

There are however, allegations also that even the private media has not been spared but has been captured also by corporates.

Media analyst Alexander Rusero said “In Zimbabwe what we have is not media capture but polarization and false consciousness among journalists,” he said.

Another media expert Jealousy Mawarire also reiterated that there is no media capture in the country but spoke on how some radio channels are being ‘captivated’.

“There is no media capture  but if  you say Star Fm has been captivated with ‘prophets ‘, I am agreeable to that,” said the former NPP spokesperson.

There were also assumptions that today’s journalists lack skills to be able to remain professionals in the face of this alleged media capture.

And as the 2018 elections, beckons the debate on media capture is becoming louder and louder and for Faith Ndlovu, VMCZ programs officer it should be a concern that needs to be looked at.

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