The ordinary person at the grass-roots level is constantly asking the question: what has President Emmerson Mnangagwa achieved since he became President.
President ED Mnangagwa in his opening remarks to the ZANU PF Politburo stated that the new dispensation’s voice was not audible in media circles. The President lamented that the voice of government and the party was not heard.
The people cannot point at the New dispensation’s results because the success story is not being told neither is the narrative coordinated from a central point.
Former President Robert Mugabe once acknowledged that Emmerson Mnangagwa was a hardworking individual. President ED Mnangagwa is an early riser who works at the office till late into the night. President ED Mnangagwa and his government have been working slowly but surely on a number of programs and activities, however, the people are not aware of the results or what the new dispensation has achieved.
State Media has seen a number of changes on the editorial front. ZBC has also gone through its own changes. Editors and reporters are complaining of meddling and micromanagement by various political characters. Unfortunately, these characters do not possess the requisite communication, political or journalistic skills or foresight to tell a beautiful story of the new dispensation and its successes.
An example of meddling was demonstrated by Gokwe-Nembudziya MP Justice Mayor Wadyajena. On the 22nd of January 2019, Hon. Wadyajena caused the firing of Joram Nyathi who had been appointed to replace Ceasar Zvayi at the Herald. Wadyajena posted the following on his twitter account :
His Excellency, President @edmnangagwa’s return only makes Page 2? Something cooking over at @HeraldZimbabwe. It’ll all end with a lot of egg on some faces! What’s going on Cdes @nickmangwana @energymutodi and where are you Editor at Large @caesarzvayi?
This was an unnecessary tweet and blatant meddling in the editorial affairs of the Herald. Joram Nyathi was fired and Tichaona Zindoga was appointed. After 8 months Tichaona Zindoga was also relieved of his duties at the Herald.
The hiring and firing drama has not spared the ZBC either. The chaos makes Jonathan Moyo look like the best Information Minister ever. Jonathan Moyo ran a tight ship that was well organised and managed. Characters like Ceasar Zvayi and Mabasa Sasa are dearly missed if not needed urgently.
The new dispensation is clearly lacking in the content strategy and narrative front. Politicians have weaponised State media and are using it for personal fights at the expense of the New dispensation.
Monica Mutsvangwa, Energy Mutodi and Nick Mangwana have failed to come up with a content strategy for the new dispensation mouthpieces. Monica Mutsvangwa appears to have weaponised state media against Chris Mutsvangwa’s political and business adversaries. This has confused the newsroom, adversely affecting the new dispensation narrative.
The Ministry of Information is not serving the new dispensation to the best of its ability. The government’s voice will never be heard loud and clear as politicians are busy mudslinging. The result is clear, and the result is that the new dispensation appears to be a Kuda Tagwirei dispensation which misappropriated 3 billion dollars through Command Agriculture, and the new dispensation has been in bed with a dirty Grain Millers Association causing mealie meal and wheat shortages. The new dispensation is also popular for a catch and release narrative on corruption. These are the results, of meddling and interference in the operations of the newsroom without a clear content strategy and narrative.
No one is telling the good stories of the new dispensation or the characters who are working behind the scenes to help the new dispensation score quick wins.
Kuda Tagwirei I is public enemy number 1 at the moment because Chris Mutsvangwa says he is an enemy and the newsroom has to carry that narrative. The negative publicity around Kuda Tagwirei hurts the new dispensation and hurts the public perception around ED Mnangagwa.
Kuda Tagwirei has made a more meaningful contribution to the economy than those fighting him, but no one will tell his side of the story because his adversaries control the newsrooms.
Tafadzwa Musarara has also played a pivotal role in ensuring food security. His story is not told on state media because certain individuals who have control of the newsrooms do not like him and GMAZ.
Justice Matanda Moyo and the new ZACC team have not received support from state media. Their story is not told, they are painted as a toothless and overrated bulldog, even after the President gave ZACC teeth to bite the corrupt. The narrative is that ZACC are specialists in catch and release, ZACC had to resort to telling their own story on social media. Why should ZACC turn to social media to give an update on high profile cases and the status thereof? Where is the Herald and ZBC? ZACC has become a public enemy because they refuse to be used as a political tool by those who are using the newsroom to settle personal scores.
Public perception of the New dispensation is the greatest result on which we should judge those entrusted to guide the Ministry of Information, Media, Publicity and Broadcast services.
The nation has to turn to social media to get live updates of the President’s address to the nation on Corona Virus, how does that happen? State Media has failed the new dispensation.
ZANU PF Information department
The ruling party does not have the same resources and reach as state media. However, the party has tried creating a digital footprint of their own which is totally independent of the state media circus.
The party’s Spokesperson Ambassador SK Moyo went missing in action. This has left the department in limbo with Dr. Obert Mpofu forced to juggle administration and information dissemination. Sadly Obert Mpofu is not a favorite of those controlling the newsrooms. This is very clear and visible as Dr Obert Mpofu is rarely featured in the news even though he is the Secretary for Administration and also reads out politburo resolutions in the absence of the Spokesperson. The ruling party is not given much coverage, unlike MDC which enjoys a front-page status in the private media space.
Who will tell ZANU PF AND ED’s success stories if state media is busy shoveling dirt on those working with the President?
President ED Mnangagwa needs to address the media circus as it affects his image and public perception of his administration. The new dispensation has scored several quick wins and the new dispensation has made remarkable progress in a number of areas that need to be highlighted without factional interference or personal vendettas.
Kuda Tagwirei is not an enemy of the state, neither is he an enemy of the people of Zimbabwe. Tafadzwa Musarara and GMAZ are working flat out to ensure that the nation has adequate grain. The private sector has warmed up to the new dispensation and various partnerships and agreements have not been publicised because they make certain people look good ahead of others. The new dispensation needs a better approach and management to its information and publicity.
The characters exerting undue influence on state media are creating communication blunders that hurt the President. Ministry of Information needs to put its priorities straight and work on fixing the narrative of the new dispensation and perception management.
Nicholas Ncube is a researcher, blogger and media consultant. He can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org