Participants at a Media Center organized pre-election Webinar discussion impressed upon the fact that the Zimbabwean media need to galvanize journalism reporting seeking to inform, educate, and encourage the physically challenged to participate in pre and post-election processes.
They are many electoral challenges affecting the disabled persons in Zimbabwe, warranting serious reform to ensure smooth participation in the upcoming 2023 elections and beyond. This also needs a coherent collaboration of visually impaired people.
‘’We need to bear the challenges of people with disabilities in this pre-election period, covering issues like voter registration, places of voting, delimitation of constituencies, and the actual voting,” said Mr. Timothy Mudarikwa of persons living with disabilities.
He added that in some cases, the electoral facilities are surrounded by barriers to the physically challenged, for example, some polling stations may be located in the mountainous and rocky landscapes making it impossible to reach for this marginalised community.
Mudarikwa further said Zimbabwe has an estimation of 2 million people who are either physically challenged or are hearing and visually impaired thus the state must ensure that those of voting age must not suffer media discrimination when it comes to pre and post-electoral issues. He added that this disadvantaged community must also be involved in the governance structure of the country as envisaged by the country’s constitution.
Speaking at the same Webinar discussion, Mr. Alxander Rusero alluded that it is a sorry state that “the dogs have come to the media than the media going to the dogs” and it appears there is a need for an operation restore legacy to reform the media, owing to the fact that the media is now pandering to the whims of politicians, sectoral groups and social media influencers.
In a pre-election period, Rusero said the media should report in a manner reflective of the wishes of the general citizenry.
Further to this Mr. Pride Mukono, a political analyst said Zimbabwe has some areas with no signal coverage and can hardly access broadcasts. Such areas like Malipati, Mberengwa, Kanyemba, Binga and other boarder lying araeas. He also mentioned that plurality and diversity are missing on pre-election discussions happening in the country.
Another renowned media expert and columnist Mr. Paidamoyo Muzulu, argued that the media in Zimbabwe is largely inclined toward entertainment than education.
Earnest Mudzengi the Executive Director of Media Center asked Mr Aalexander Rusero on the concept of Public Servant Journalism, to which Mr Rusero responded that Public Servant Journalism is also paid for.
Mr Emmanuael Manyati said news is actually a an enterprise as such most of what we consume is stage-managed by the owners of the media. He ,however, said that there is a great deal of persons involved in social media usage in the rural areas of Zimbabwe.