‘Media owns the pen’

By Justin Mahlahla

Journalists have the mandate to report responsibly on elections in a manner that contributes to nation building, Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation Chief Executive Officer Adelaide Chikunguru has said.

She was speaking this Wednesday at a media training workshop for ZBC journalists organised by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission in Chinhoyi.

“It remains critical for ZBC employees who will be responsible for covering the harmonised elections as well as related programming to understand basic information, laws, rules and guidelines of expected of media personnel.

“We know already that we as journalists and reporters have power because we own the pen. There are two powers in the world – the sword and the pen. And therefore, it is important that we move forward with integrity as we cover and prepare to cover the coming general election,” she said.

ZEC Acting Chairperson Rodney Simukai Kiwa said journalists can trasform attitudes and shape the society through the way they report on elections.

ZEC Acting chairperson, Commissioner Rodney Kiwa

“Consistent attacks by the media of electoral processes and the electoral manegement body can damage the credibility of elections. Persistent attacks of ZEC by media and politicial parties has contributed to voter apathy in this country,” he noted.

He added: “The live updates were very informative. It is my fervent wish that you as the media should know elections are not an event, but a process. There is the pre-election period, election and post election phases. The presence of the media is paramount in all these phases.”

He said the media should educate voters on electoral processes, citizens on constitutional rights, report on rights pertaining to campaign activities and candidates and provide campaigning platforms for political players.

The workshop comes as media personnel have often been found wanting in regards to accurate and indepth reporting on electoral processes.

It also follows a seamless coverage of the 26 March by-elections by the national broadcaster as it continuously executes its constitutional mandate.