Have you heard the intense squealing that goes on when countries such as the Netherlands express their support for democratic diversity in broadcasting?
All sorts of dubious “experts” are wheeled out to complain bitterly about foreign intervention in the Zimbabwe broadcasting process with the word “pirate” introduced at some point.
This is all nonsense of course.
The Netherlands and other democratic countries which have helped Zimbabwe in the past have every right to insist on democratic behaviour. And in the absence of that, they should help Zimbabweans cultivate bro-adcasting skills.
Let’s recall that in 2000 the Supreme Court ruled in favour of local broadcasters who were then forced to leave the country in order to practise their skills. And because Zimbabwe didn’t permit free broadcasting, external stations were obliged to fill that space. Zimbabweans wanted news and views that would be considered normal content anywhere else, except perhaps Belarus!
Yearning for chance
There are currently dozens of Zimbabwean broadcasters working abroad who would welcome the chance to practise their skills here at home.
Zanu PF is preventing that. It is behaving like a fascist state. Meanwhile, our neighbours in the region are happy to allow radio stations to flourish. Do you really want someone like Tafataona Mahoso telling us what we can and can’t listen to?
Supa Mandiwanzira gave a good account of how a minister should respond when tackled by a feisty interviewer.
The BBC’s Zeinad Badawi had done her homework and Mandiwanzira was on top of his game. However, Badawi should have asked him why the 2000 ruling in favour of local broadcasters and against the ZBC monopoly had not been upheld? Why should their rights in a free Zimbabwe be abridged so crudely?
And why should we have such amateur and clumsy broadcasters working for the state broadcaster?
The public deserve much better from the public broadcaster which trots out a diet of partisan and unprofessional content, boring the public to tears? Perhaps Mandiwanzira could attend to this democratic deficit in the broadcasting sector instead of having Zanu PF zealots determining our fate.
Meanwhile, transmissions from ZBC have a very limited range. Anybody living east of Marondera or at Victoria Falls can’t receive a signal even if they wanted to.
And this is 2014! Rhodesia, as it was then, had a television service in 1960. The signal extended from Salisbury to the Copperbelt and Bulawayo. We are now actually going backwards!
Sunday Times columnist and former editor Barney Mthombothi said President Jacob Zuma had some home truths for his party in the wake of the election, castigating the “clever” people in the ANC who criticised the Nkandla extravagance.
This is misconceived. An educated questioning citizenry is vital for the progress of any country, Mthombothi points out. While the ANC retains an overwhelming majority, it’s a party in decline, he says.
The ANC has already started rehearsing its excuses for losing Johannesburg in municipal elections in two years time.
“The ANC could follow in the foot steps of other liberation groups in Africa that, after Independence, steadily lost support in urban areas but remained entrenched in rural districts,” Mthombothi reminds us.
“But that is often not enough to sustain them in power.”
“Zanu PF for instance lost the major urban centres more than a decade ago and could have been dumped from power had South Africa not rushed to its rescue.
Since then Robert Mugabe has survived by rigging the elections.”
The May 7 elections have been a wake-up call for the ANC, Mthombothi writes. It knows what the problems facing it and the country are but it lacks the courage to confront them.
Little to learn
It appears there is little to learn from the just-ended peaceful polls held in South Africa recently as shown by the violence which reportedly erupted in Malawi during the presidential elections held on Tuesday.
So much for Africa! It seems every election must be accompanied by irregularities of this sort. Even South Africa’s recent poll was criticised for partisanship.
In Malawi the incumbent President Joyce Banda urged voters to remain calm as voting took place.
“I’m thankful that the campaign period was peaceful and am urging all Malawians to vote peacefully today without any incident or loss of life,” she said.
However, the call was void as police had to quell protesters who took to the streets to voice their concerns, citing fears of electoral fraud and possibilities of rigging when their names didn’t appear on the voters roll.
Let’s not forget that Africa celebrates its liberation from colonial bondage on Sunday. So many dreams since the 1960s and so little achievements realised.
Think of the Thabo Mbeki Foundation, lauded by the SABC as the voice of the African Renaissance, all bear testimony to an intellectually rich continent which falls short on implementation.
So sad that Africa remains in the economic backwoods and torn apart by civil wars, coups and counter coups.
Al Qaeda terrorises the Sahel region. Civil strife in the diamond-rich DRC never seems to end, while recently Boko Haram wreaked havoc in the northern city of Nigeria, Chibok, abducting more than 200 schoolgirls.
And yet there are unending conferences aimed at upgrading peace and security in Africa.
Uhuru remains an empty event for the majority; Africa needs real leadership to redeem itself!