By Fungai Jachi
Institutions of higher learning have been challenged to carry out sustained reliable research on how the media can combat social and political phobias to propel national development.
Officiating at the inaugural Media against Phobias Annual Conference held in Harare this Wednesday, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister, Senator Monica Mutsvangwa challenged media students to prioritise research on how to combat phobias and inform policy-formulation.
“My Ministry would be grateful if we have sustained authentic research by Zimbabwean media scholars and practitioners on how different forms of media are directly or indirectly implicated in combating and spreading phobias. Such data would be highly beneficial in crafting policies that place media at the centre of national development and cohesion.
“I said political phobias were some form of bigotry and bigotry is informed by ignorance. The moment one mentions ignorance then automatically the role of the media is identified. Part of the big role of the media is to inform and educate. It means the media should inform society, expose intolerance and foster knowledge and help eradicate hate,” Senator Mutsvangwa said.
University of Zimbabwe Vice Chancellor, Professor Paul Mapfumo spoke on the importance of the practical side of the education system.
“It is important for us to be practical in our education as it will enable students to be active citizens in the development of the country,” he noted.
Dr Shingi Munyeza, who sponsored of the conference, said the media should play an active role in promoting peace and unity.
“The media should ensure that it combats phobias because where there is disharmony, there is no unity and we need unity for the nation to progress. This means that the media should not preach hate and it’s high time we control our own narrative as Zimbabweans and Africans. This conference will allow us to come up with a handbook that will help policy makers in terms of how we should deal with phobias.”
The two-day conference seeks to chart the course on how the media can combat phobias in the interest of national development, while also coming up with a handbook that will be used by policy makers in dealing with phobias.