by Irene Madongo
01 August 2011
The release of a fresh batch of pro-ZANU PF jingles shows just how urgently media reforms are needed in Zimbabwe, Nhlanhla Ngwenya, the Director of the Zimbabwe chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA-Zimbabwe).
The Global Political Agreement has called for the media sector to be reformed in the country, but the coalition government has been dragging its feet over the matter. The state-owned Zimbabwe Broadcasting Cooperation (ZBC) is still taking a pro-Robert Mugabe stance, and continues to play jingles which support ZANU PF’s agenda.
Most recently, the Light Machine Gun (LMG) Choir in Bulawayo launched a new batch of music this weekend. Information Minister Webster Shamu, who is also a key ZANU PF executive, praised their music and claimed they were revolutionary songs and not party jingles.
However, a media expert said these are indeed party jingles presented as songs.
“The issue is that they are couching these jingles as songs. But the underlying motive is to market ZANU PF before the electorate,” MISA’s Ngwenya explained. “They have done it in such a clever way that they are masquerading these jingles as songs.”
The jingles, guised as ‘songs’, make their way to popular music charts and are played continuously, he added.
“It clearly shows why there is an urgent need to insulate the ZBC from political interference and turn it into a genuine public broadcaster that will reflect all Zimbabweans and not that of one single party,” Ngwenya said.
He added: “This shows why there has been reluctance to introduce sweeping reforms at the broadcaster, which reforms will make the broadcaster accountable to parliament and not a single ministry.”
Despite the existence of a coalition government, the media environment in Zimbabwe remains oppressive. Last week journalists were reminded that they could be jailed for reporting critical cabinet issues, and days earlier others were assaulted by ZANU PF activists at a human rights meeting. Last month the police banned a MISA concert, dubbed ‘Free the Airwaves’, which was campaigning for opening up of the airwaves