By Nkosana Dlamini
ZIMBABWE Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) chief correspondent, Reuben Barwe has denied State media journalists were being manipulated by President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF to grant positive coverage to the ruling party while doing the opposite with the opposition.
Speaking during a panel discussion at the Media Alliance of Zimbabwe (MAZ) annual stakeholders conference at a Harare hotel on Wednesday, Barwe urged his private media colleagues to also stop pandering to the whims of western sponsors who allegedly entice them to write negatively about the Zimbabwean government.
Barwe, who has over 30 years of elections coverage in Zimbabwe and beyond, denied ZBC reporters were “captured” by Zanu PF.
“We are not on the strings of the establishment but we also see what is happening,” he said as he defended the editorial stance often taken by the country’s sole television broadcaster.
ZBC is under fire for failing to grant coverage to Zanu PF opponents while giving loads of airtime to the ruling party to air its content.
Barwe was giving his presentation during a session which focussed on the topic, “Practical experiences covering elections in Zimbabwe”.
He said private media journalists were not the only victims of abuse by alleged Zanu PF followers and the state but state media scribes were also being targeted by opposition elements.
“It’s not only the people in the private media who are beaten up, I was attacked in Budiriro (by alleged MDC supporters), Judith (Makwanya) was attacked in Chitungwiza,” he said.
Participants confronted the celebrity journalists over his comments which they felt papered over a lot of detail to do with Zanu PF hand in media capture and its own western funding.
Barwe also told local opposition parties to stop wailing about being denied State media coverage insisting elections were won in the bush and not via media coverage.
He said African history was replete with African Presidential aspirants who romp to victory even without state media coverage.
He also said the Zimbabwean opposition was shooting itself in the foot through failure to venture into the country’s remote districts while pontificating in city hotels.
“Elections are won in Muzarabani, in the bush and stop pontificating in hotels,” Barwe said.
He said Zanu PF had shown it was more wiser than its opponents to win the country’s successive polls.