MEDIA, Information and Broadcasting Services minister, Christopher Mushohwe has threatened to tighten screws on private media houses deemed too critical of government programmes.
Mushohwe told NewsDay in Mutare on Saturday that they were considering urging all Zanu-PF supporters to shun and withdraw their advertising support to all media houses that were critical of government.
“I have tried all the means to accommodate all the media houses. We are all in the media sector. I have been on record saying that media houses should play a role in building our nation,” he said
“Let’s not play these political games. Don’t push me against the walls. You know private newspapers are surviving under the consideration of President Robert Mugabe. Do you know we can simply say that no Zanu-PF supporters should buy your newspaper and that no (State) institution or parastatal will place an advert [in private newspapers]. You will simply collapse.”
Mushohwe ordered the private and public media to stop fanning Zanu-PF factional wars or allow themselves to be used as battlegrounds by ruling party political gladiators at the expense of national interests.
Last week, he made similar remarks while officially launching AB Communications’ 98.4 Midlands FM regional station in Gweru, where he warned the media against destroying societal values.
In the same vein, I would want to caution our friends in the media – both electronic and print – that while it is a right, it is not a licence to propagate hate speech and spreading unsubstantiated and malicious stories about our country,” the government spokesperson said.
“The electronic, print and social media should not be used as arsenal or battle ground for political or factional battles.”
In recent months, the media, particularly the State-run, has been used as a battle ground for Zanu-PF factional fights, with rivals trading insults almost on a daily basis, as struggles to succeed President Robert Mugabe intensify.
“I want to remind you that radio, television and other media platforms should know that their role is exclusively to inform, entertain and not, as I have said, be used as whips by political gladiators,” Mushohwe said.
He said if left unchecked, the media, particularly radio, could end up churning out propaganda that fuels genocide, as happened in Rwanda and in the former Yugoslavia.
Meanwhile, Mushohwe said the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe would revise the 40km radius provision to enable newly-licensed commercial radio stations to expand their operations to cover more areas.