Media commission drafts election blueprint to safeguard journalists as 2023 elections draw closer

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By Darlington Gatsi

THE ZIMBABWE Media Commission (ZMC) has crafted an election blueprint to conscientise and safeguard journalists as the country fast approaches to next year’s general elections.

The media regulator recently held an all stakeholder engagement in Mutare, where deliberations were made to furnish the electoral reporting manual.

ZMC deputy chairperson, Jasper Maposa, said the electoral reporting manual will aid journalists against fanning tension during elections.

“Elections have always been a hotbed of challenges in Zimbabwe, be it economic or political, and we want to play our role to try and make sure that we assist our media practitioners to come up with stories that are constructive.

“The manual we have come up with is a guide. It’s an embodiment of how someone can professionally and ethically report on elections,” said Jasper Maposa.

Journalists’ safety has become a topical issue during elections as they find themselves in between the political tensions.

With 2023 elections beckoning, media practitioners’ treatment will come under the spotlight.

Recently, opposition security detail manhandled a female journalist while in the course of duty, drawing widespread condemnation,  and suspected ZANU-PF youths attacked a Voice of America reporter.

Maposa says the manual will shine the spotlight on the safety of journalists during elections.

Political analysts have predicted a bloody election characterised with violence.

“The other component I am very happy with pertains to the safety and security of journalists. More often we strive to get that best story at our greatest risk. We are going to give some tips and hints that will minimise incidents of attacks,” he said.

Weighing in on the blueprint, Young Journalists Association YOJA president Richard Zimunya said it will be a shot in the arm to greenhorn journalists on electoral reporting.

“I think it was key to see young journalists included. Young journalists are going to be the bigger beneficiaries of the training manual,” said Zimunya.

“Most of them do not have experience on how to cover elections and most of them are skeptical, some are even afraid of covering elections. This manual guide will give them a guide on how to do their duties. We applaud ZMC for the initiative.”