The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) in line with Section 160K of the Electoral Act is mandated to establish a Media Monitoring Committee to monitor the conduct of media in local elections coverage.
The Media Monitoring Committee is chaired by ZEC, which is assisted by the Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) and the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) to monitor the print media and the electronic media respectively.
In monitoring the media, the Committee is guided by provisions of Section 160K of the Electoral Act as read with Statutory Instrument 33 of 2008: (Media Coverage of Elections Regulations 2008). The Committee is required to produce a report on media coverage of elections, which will be part of the overall elections report presented to Parliament.
The Committee has noted with concern the rampant use of hate language, violence, skewed coverage, symbolic obliteration of some political parties and general disregard of ethical and professional principles of the journalism profession. This is also in breach of Constitutional provisions.
The Committee also notes with concern the growing attacks on the electoral process, which has the potential of creating voter apathy and a negative perception of the electoral process.
It is only when the media plays its role, as the Fourth Estate, in reporting factually, objectively and fairly on the current political events that the electorate can make informed choices. The people want to understand what each contesting party is offering and what contesting candidates are promising. The voting public needs to know and understand the electoral process for them to participate.
The Committee has noted that some of the coverage on the current political activities and environment is unfortunately opinionated and biased to suit the editorial slant of the respective media houses. This is not only a disservice to the electorate and the electoral process, but a breach of both Constitutional provisions and professional ethics.
The Committee applauds media under the Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe stable that continue to inform and educate the Zimbabwean voting public about the electoral processes and political contestations without bias.
Most of the community newspapers and commercial radio stations have been fair and objective in reporting the current electoral process and political contestations.
All broadcasting media as well as print publications are required to abide by the provisions of Statutory Instrument 33 of 2008. The spirit of the instrument is for the media to assist in the creation of a peaceful environment leading to the holding of credible elections.
The Committee calls upon all media services to abide by the provisions of the law and the dictates of the journalism profession.