THE impending August 2023 harmonised elections have attracted interest from foreign media organisations amid revelations over 50 outlets have so far been approved.
Chief Director in the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Jonathan Gandari told participants at a media and elections reporting workshop in Kadoma this Friday there were overwhelming applications by international media houses.
“Numbers don’t lie, l have a schedule that is showing which international media has applied to us to be allowed to cover the elections.
“There is high appetite to cover Zimbabwe elections. To date, over 50 foreign international media have been approved and nobody has been denied,” said Gandari.
“From our end, all have been accepted to cover the elections in the spirit of engagement and re-engagement.”
Among the organisations given the greenlight to visit and write about this year’s polls include, British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Channel Africa Radio, The Telegraph, Associated Press (AP) and Cable News Network (CNN).
Others include ITV, New York Times, Voice of America (VoA), Financial Times, Aljazeera, Wall Street Journal, among others, which will fly in their personnel in addition to using their locally-based correspondents.
Gandari was, however, quick to raise concern over the competition local under-resourced journalists working for domestic news organisations will face against the well-equipped foreign media personnel.
“There is a real chance that local media will be overshadowed by foreigners with their high-tech OB (outside broadcasting) vans and drones used in live broadcasts direct to their headquarters,” he said.
Local scribes, due to resources constraints, run real risks of replicating “inaccurate information” peddled by foreign news agencies, Gandari added.
“They have their own agenda and framing, therefore, the tragedy would be that local media may relay the narrative as blindly reported by international news media.”
The chief director said the government wants voters to get accurate information to make the right choices of candidates while also giving contestants fair coverage.
“Government worries that voters get accurate information to make right choices. We do also care about the rights of contestants so that they are not drowned by analyses and editorial comments of the media, but write stories based upon the contestants’ promises,” Gandari said.
Participants, however, were unanimous local journalists who wield intelligence on the electoral environment and candidates more than foreigners, therefore, must be at the forefront of telling the Zimbabwean story.
National police spokesperson, Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi urged both domestic and foreign journalists to have their drones licenced.