MABVUKU-TAFARA MP, James Maridadi, who is also former presenter at then Radio 3, told reporters at the weekend that he has listened to ZBC news for less than an hour combined in the 17 years that he has left the public broadcaster.
Speaking during belated World Press Freedom Day commemorations organized by MISA-Zimbabwe Harare Chapter, Maridadi said the ZBC was no longer a public broadcaster but had become an epitome of the factional fights in Zanu PF.
“I want to be honest with you, ever since I left ZBC in 2000, as a full time broadcaster, if you put together the time that I have watched ZBC news combined, if you put it together, it will not come to one hour. The only time I watched ZBC was when I saw Amai (Grace Mugabe)’s rallies when she was booting out people from the party. And the longest rally I watched was when Mai Muchena was expelled because I had warned her before that they would be expelled from Zanu PF and I wanted to make sure,” Maridadi said.
“If you want to see the politics of succession playing out in Zanu PF, just watch ZBC news for 20 minutes and you can see exactly what polarization is and you can actually read the succession politics,” he added.
Maridadi said the ZBC and other state media needed to be transformed ahead of the make or break 2018 elections saying he was concerned about the role government media was going to play in the plebiscite.
“My concern on the media, going into 2018, is the role that government media is going to play, especially ZBC. ZBC epitomizes political polarization and the succession in Zanu PF. I think mainstream media needs to be strengthened as well,” he said.
The former presenter of popular children’s show, Junior 3, on the then Radio 3, said there was need for genuine electronic media diversity in the country to enable new players to come in, adding that those who currently held broadcasting licenses were connected to Zanu PF in one way or the other.
“I don’t know if airwaves have been opened up. Every station in Zimbabwe is run by people or organisations that have very strong links with the ruling party.
“Those players that come in must not be aligned to any political party, because as it is now, there are no independent radio stations,” he said.
Maridadi said it was disappointing to note that Zimbabwe was lagging behind countries such as Mozambique, Zambia and South Africa who now had multiple independent radio and television stations although Zimbabwe was the first country in Central Africa to have a television station in 1960.Advertisement
‘So these are the issues I want to talk about, of balancing between digital rights and security and transformation, especially of ZBC and opening up of the airwaves so that we have more players coming in,” he said.
He said other private mainstream media such as the Daily News, News Day and others also needed to be transformed and to be strengthened.
He said journalists should start lobbying the legislature to put in place legislation which protected the independent media and practitioners from the independent media.