The Political Economy of the Media in Zimbabwe

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The Political Economy of the media in Zimbabwe

The political economy of the media in Zimbabwe is mostly centered on the hands of the government. The government has control over major media players like the public media which include print and broadcasting media. Through its control of the public media it has greatly impede freedom of expression, freedom of the press, freedom of information and freedom of opinion in the media. However, the government has manage to give some private players room to establish their media houses but these players have to dance to the music of those who are holding power through following harsh media laws enacted by the government. Hence, the political economy of the media in Zimbabwe has negative influence on freedom of the press, freedom of expression, freedom of information and freedom of opinion. Scholars like Stanford Mukasa has linked this assertion to the fact that most countries which were colonized in Africa inherited the structure of the media which was used by their colonial masters hence it is always repressive.

Political economy of the Zimbabwean media is largely controlled by the government. The government has control over the large sector of the print media through its shares in ZIMPAPERS (Munyuki 2006). Through these shares the government has impeded media freedom of expression. The public media can not criticize the government since the editors of these newspapers which include the Herald, Chronicle, Sunday Mail and Sunday News are appointed by the minister of Information (Nyanhuzi 2001). This then implies that the editors of these newspapers were appointed after the government closely scrutinized their ideology if it goes hand in hand with the ZANU PF one party ideology. The freedom of expression which the media should endure is not promoted and if a journalist rights a story which criticize the government the story will never see the light of the day and the journalist might even get fired. In overall the government influence in the public press has led to limited media freedom of expression in this sector because the stories these newspapers publish are unbalanced due to the fact that the other government will be glorified even though it is wrong.

Governments influence in the print media through ZIMPAPERS has also deprived the people freedom to information. Through it influence in the Herald and other ZIMPAPERS publications the people are not entitled to freedom of information. This is largely because these newspapers write stories which in most cases are similar in their ideology and political views. Issues of public interest are put aside in order for the government to publish their propagated and hegemony stories of ZANU PF supremacy (Mukasa 2003). This hinders the public freedom to information as other issues that are of public interest are not published due to editorial policies like in the case of how MDC leaders were butchered by the police in 2007. This story was never given the light of the day in the public print media yet the public wanted to have an insight into this story as they also have the freedom to get information. Freedom to information is also hindered in that journalist from these media houses they are afraid to interview government official on issues that might make them viewed as anti government. This then means that freedom to information is not guaranteed in the public print media because vital information will not be retrieved by journalist because of fear.

General freedom of the press is also not influenced due to the government influence in ZIMPAPERS. This is supported by the former minister of information Witness Mangwende. He states that “There is no such thing as freedom of the press. The press is a structural component of the society whose interest it must reflect, promote and indeed defend. Therefore freedom of the press is only relative to a given social, economic and political circumstances you are in relation to the existence...
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