A coordinated media attack on Zimbabwe is underway, as Western and local private media have ratcheted negative stories about the country to frustrate President Mnangagwa’s re-engagement and investment prospects by painting Zimbabwe as having gone back to “default” of the lack of rule of law.
The Herald has learnt that two local dailies, traditionally sponsored by Western countries, are getting their editorial direction, including content such as photographs, from a Western embassy in Harare.
The media outlets have been in an overdrive to portray Zimbabwe as being in a state of lawless and repression since the opposition-sponsored “shutdown”.
And, over the past week, Western media have upped the ante, with teams being sent to Harare to ramp up the negative stories with some deliberately cooking up stories.
A total of 37 new accreditations were processed for foreign media crews.
Sky News, a British broadcaster, stands accused of “manufacturing” the latest story about alleged beatings and lawlessness.
This, on the back of another British outlet ITV which had footage of brutalised women at a “safe house”.
Interestingly, Sky News is not one of those accredited to work in Zimbabwe.
Sky News’ John Sparks, Africa correspondent, claims that there are “Daylight beatings instil public fear in ‘lawless’ country”.
“Frightened civilians question what is happening to their nation, as members of the security services are given free rein,” he narrates of an alleged incident in which a man is being beaten by men clad in police and army uniforms.
A third assailant is in civilian clothing.
The reporter says: “Every time the man tried to get up, the policemen hit him on the head. There were two other people in attendance, assisting the policeman with the beating. A soldier in camouflage with a machine gun and a plain clothes security agent pitched in, slapping, punching and kicking the victim.”
The police have since spoken on the matter, indicating investigations are underway.
But authorities are worried by the surreptitious news gathering by Sky News and company.
“We have checked our records and we have not cleared anyone from Sky for accreditation,” Secretary for Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Mr Nick Mangwana said yesterday.
“Normally that should happen before they are even allowed to come into the country. During the disturbances we cleared dozens of journalists but Sky News did not apply. It’s strange why they chose not to obey the law because everyone else from British Media such as ITN, BBC, Financial Times did things the correct way and they never faced any problems. We even granted them interviews when they asked for same.”
Mr Mangwana noted that Sky News had not sought comment from Government before they broadcast their allegations.
“Their report was not balanced because they did not give the police or army a chance to respond – that is if they were in the country at all,” he said.
He said it was ironic that Sky News talked about the rule of law in a report in which they are breaking Zimbabwe’s law.
“When then we enforce our law against them some people will start crying foul claiming that we are being vindictive because of their reportage when in fact we are only asking for them to respect our law,” warned Mr Mangwana.