…But church group report says Zimbabweans trust the military

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By Staff Reporter

ZIMBABWEANS now have a high level of trust in the military as compared to other key State institutions, a Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) report has revealed.

The research was conducted by the church grouping under the theme, “State of election preparedness for the country”.

Presenting its findings Thursday in Mutare, ZCC advocacy and governance assistant officer, Rugare Kozanai said the survey discovered that the most trusted institution among key State organisations was the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA).

According to the report, 64 percent of participants in Midlands and 65 percent in Bulawayo, said they trusted the army more than the police and Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO), media, government and parliament.

“In our own analysis as ZCC, maybe this could be in relationship to what happened on November 17. We think the military worked hand in hand with people in removing the former president (Robert Mugabe) from power and this led people to have confidence in the army.

“Our advice to the military is that, ‘now people trust you; don’t spoil that good reputation by unnecessarily putting your hands in this election. Stay away from it. Stay in your barracks and accept whoever wins the polls and then you will maintain your good reputation’.

“This is our advice to the ZNA; that they need to maintain their professionalism and not to meddle in political affairs and to be aligned to any political party. They need to be non-partisan and do their job professionally.

“Even in Manicaland, people made emphasis that they need the soldiers to stay in their barracks and we also need them to accept whoever wins and come out victorious in these elections,” said Kozanai.

He said the military should not select who to salute after the polls, adding “it should not be specifically Chamisa but even when (Brian) Mteki, (Thokozani) Khupe or (President Emmerson) Mnangagwa. It’s not fair to say then they will salute Chamisa. We want them to salute whoever comes victorious. It does not matter whether Mteki does not have this popularity”.

Kozanai also said what they discovered on the media during the research was “shocking” as most people were now trusting social media as compared to mainstream media.

“Most people now trust social media as compared to public and private media. Public media fared poorly as compared to private media but both statistics are shocking and disturbing. 27% of people said they trust public media while 28% trust private media.

“The difference is only one percent and from our own evaluation, I think it’s pretty clear why it is like this.

“You can simply know the media house which produce an article by only looking at the headline. You will know this is Herald or Daily News or News Day.”

He said in line with the spirit of the country`s constitution, there is need for reforms in both private and public media.

“Our advice to public media is that in line with the spirit of our constitution and in line with key spirit and component of our electoral laws, there is need to give equal access to all political parties so that they market and advertise their brand, manifestos, ideologies publicly without hindrance. Same as private media because 28% is like no trust at all,” said Kozanai.

He added: “We need media reforms for both private and public media. They both need to implement some reforms so that people can trust them. It’s equally shocking people trust social than established form of media houses it’s disheartening to say the least”.

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