THE opposition MDC says it is dismayed by the state-owned Zimbabwe Newspapers Group (Zimpapers)’s refusal to publish its advertorial material in violation of the Southern African Development Com
munity (Sadc) protocol on elections.
The Chronicle and Sunday News newspapers, part of the six government mouthpieces under the Zimpapers stable, have in the past two months refused to publish advertorial and press releases from Bulawayo mayor Japhet Ndabeni Ncube and MDC MPs in the city.
MDC spokesperson for Bulawayo, Victor Moyo, said the Chronicle and the Sunday News had turned down advertorials from Ncube and press releases from his party’s MPs.
“It is sad that the Chronicle and the Sunday News continue to turn down our adverts and press releases yet the two papers are supposed to be part of the public media,” Moyo said.
Moyo said the Sunday News turned down a press release from the mayor responding to allegations in the same paper alleging that he was making up figures of malnutrition-related deaths in the city.
“It is sad that these papers continue attacking us but they do not give us a chance to respond to the lies they publish about us. This is despite the fact that we are ready to pay for these advertorials,” he said.
Moyo said Bulawayo South MP David Coltart had adverts on report-back meetings turned down by the state newspapers in September. Others MPs have also been denied access to the newspapers.
The MDC has also been denied access to other state newspapers such the Herald, the Sunday Mail and the Manica Post.
Sadc norms and standards on democratic elections demand that all parties have equal access to the public media, in particular in the run-up to elections. However, Zimpapers and Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings, which runs television and radio stations, have sealed access against the MDC. They currently operate exclusively as government propaganda mouthpieces, just as they were before independence in 1980.
Information minister Jonathan Moyo, who rigidly presides over the state media, has said the MDC will not get access to the public media because it is allegedly disloyal to Zimbabwe.
Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa has also repeated the same claim, equating Zimbabwe’s main official opposition party to the stateless al-Qaeda organisation.