Zimbabwe media ignoring real issues in election stories


For the past eight years, I have earned my living from a buzzing workspace of journalists running in and out. It’s a lively hall of endless chatter, of arguments over politics, sport and about almost everything else.

In my role as executive director of Zimbabwe’s Media Centre, I juggle journalism and administrative duties in probably one of the largest newsrooms in the region housing freelance journalists.

In this role, and after nearly two decades of teaching journalism and human rights advocacy, I have special, critical interest in news stories.

Our latest debate in our Media Centre these days — and probably to the end of the year — is how the media is covering elections.

The story of the day, today, and tomorrow, until the Zimbabwe elections are over, is the Zimbabwe elections story.

While I get to see, read and follow this story from a daily average of twenty or more journalists at the Media Centre, and from other sources, I agonise over the coverage.

Like many other people, my primary expectation is that the media should be reporting on elections in ways that enable citizens to make informed political choices.  From another perspective, I see the media as a mirror that should project the diverse needs and interests of the citizens in fair, balanced, accurate and objective ways.

However, what I read, hear, see and surmise from stories in print, broadcast and social media alike are notions of a highly charged, polarised and partisan reportage; an elite-centric journalism that flushes away the citizen’s agenda and wish for democratic and transformative electoral contestation.

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.


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