GOVERNMENT has ordered Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings (ZBH) to allocate airtime on radio and television to opposition political parties ahead of next year’s general election, the Zimbabwe Indepe
ndent has established.
Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa confirmed this week that ZBH would soon start allocating political parties airtime to articulate their policies ahead of next year’s election.
“We are working on creating a conducive electoral framework in line with the Sadc principles. This will include equal access to the public media by all political parties and programmes will be introduced on television and radio soon,” Chinamasa said.
This is part of government’s efforts to reform the electoral system in the country in line with Southern African Development Community (Sadc) principles ahead of the general election scheduled for March.
However, opposition parties have dismissed the move, saying it is an attempt by the ruling party to hoodwink the world whilst the public media continues to campaign against them.
The public broadcaster has in recent years become a crude instrument of the ruling party, abandoning professional standards to denigrate the opposition.
Sources in Zanu PF this week said the politburo had recently agreed that ZBH must offer airtime to other political parties in line with the Mauritius protocol agreed by Sadc heads of state last month.
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) secretary-general Welshman Ncube yesterday dismissed Zanu PF’s announcement to give his party access to the airwaves as mere posturing.
“This is part of the unstructured responses coming from the ruling party. What we need is a public media that is accessible to all political parties all the time, not just 10 days before the election date,” Ncube said.
“It is meaningless for government to appropriate the public media in favour of Zanu PF for many years and then pretend to open up to the opposition with only a few months before the election.”
Democratic Party leader Wurayayi Zembe said: “No, our rights are not dependent on the benevolence of Zanu PF. We dismiss as rubbish this claim by Zanu PF that it will open up the public media to opposition parties. Access to the public media is every citizen’s right enshrined in the constitution. So we can’t be hoodwinked by Zanu PF that has been denying us that right.”