Mushohwe must stop reckless humour

THE public attack and threats to tighten screws on private media houses deemed too critical of government programmes by Media, Information and Broadcasting Services minister Christopher Mushohwe is reckless and ruinous and must not be taken lightly given that the country is inching close to the 2018 general elections.

Comment: NewsDay Editor

Christopher Mushowe

Christopher Mushowe

Although the State-run media and his Zanu PF acolytes will hail the attack as his finest hour, government could pay a high price for Mushohwe’s reckless private media folly.

Mushohwe must understand the full implications of his threats to the privately-owned independent media, especially as Zimbabweans have witnessed the abuse of the State-owned media, which is being used as a battleground for Zanu PF factional fights, with rivals trading insults almost on a daily basis, in an effort to gain ground against the other over the succession of the 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe.

Besides, the threats could result in loss of life as journalists are targeted by Zanu PF apparatchiks for doing their job. Everyone must condemn Mushohwe for seeking to criminalise the profession.

It is ironic that Mushohwe of all people would accuse others of abusing the media, when some in Zanu PF have pointed fingers at him for abusing the State-run media organisations to further the interests of his favoured faction in Mugabe’s succession fights.

We would want to remind Mushohwe that the privately-owned independent media has for long practised watchdog journalism informing the public about the goings-on in institutions and society, especially in circumstances where a significant portion of the public would demand changes in response.

We are, therefore, duty-bound to remind Mushohwe of his role to promote a diversified media industry grounded on key journalism tenets for the country to build strong democratic institutions.

The media is supposed to be a watchdog in a democracy, and a fundamental quality of the media in a democracy is the function of the media as an independent watchdog.

While we agree with Mushohwe that he must be seen to be defending his appointing authority, Mugabe, we, however, do not agree with the minister that the private media are surviving under the consideration of the President.

The media operates on the dictates of the country’s governance charter, and, hence, we will continue to hold the authorities to account for a better Zimbabwe.

What boggles the mind is why Mushohwe is eager to stifle debate and scrutiny. Yes, the Zanu PF government under Mugabe has bred endemic corruption, poor governance and reduced every citizen of this country to a pauper.

This is not an ideal situation for an independent country like Zimbabwe. Hence, NewsDay will stand shoulder to shoulder with other privately-owned media players, in order to bring accountability in how the country is being governed.

What is clear with our mandate is that we are here for nation-building and eager to create a democracy in Zimbabwe.

Mushohwe should not take advantage of his role as minister in charge of the media to spew reckless humour and media accusations. We believe debate is healthy, and Mushohwe and his Zanu PF counterparts must brace themselves for more scrutiny going forward.

The economic fundamentals should govern how the media will operate in the country rather than control by politicians at the expense of the public, who need to be well-informed.

Zanu PF must be warned that the days of big media State-controlled monopoly are slowly waning. There are far too many outlets and channels that have democratised the information flow and this will only increase. The writing is on the wall.