‘Hate speech contributes to violence’
HARARE – Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC has told President Jacob Zuma that current tensions that have resulted in resurgent violence are partly a result of intensifying hate speech churned out by the public media.
In a letter to the South African president, MDC secretary general Tendai Biti said state controlled newspapers as well as radio stations and televisions run by the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) had ganged up to denigrate and belittle the Prime Minister and his MDC party to the extent of fanning hatred.
Sadc appointed Zuma as its point man in dealing with Zimbabwe’s political stalemate to ensure credible elections to end a fragile unity government formed by President Robert Mugabe and Tsvangirai following the disputed 2008 elections.
According to Article 19 of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) that gave birth to the coalition government, the public media should provide balanced and fair coverage to all political parties for their legitimate political activities.
“It is business as usual for the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) and the Herald and the MDC continues to be viewed as the chief enemy of the state regardless of more than two years of an inclusive government,” reads the letter dispatched to Zuma’s office.
“We complained through Jomic (Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee) and ZBC about our discontent at the airing of political jingles by ZBC but in response these have gone several decibels up.
“ZBC’s four radio stations air Zanu PF jingles at 30 minute intervals. It seems our colleagues in government are already in an election mode and are obsessed with the power retention agenda.”
In the past week, state media has maximised on Tsvangirai’s support for gay rights to bash the former trade unionist who became the first person to defeat Mugabe in an election in the 2008 presidential election first round.
The international community, including the African Union, rejected results of a second round boycotted by Tsvangirai.
“On Monday, October 31 2011, the state media nicknamed the Prime Minister “More-gay”. We find this to insinuate that the Prime Minister is gay. We find this derogatory and a means of vilifying the MDC and its President,” says the letter to Zuma.
Last week Tsvangirai again had to address the issue saying he was a father, a grandfather and a Methodist parishioner and “certainly not gay.”
At a function earlier this year in Chitungwiza, Tsvangirai struck rare unity with Mugabe saying he was against gay rights, and on a BBC News Night programme he said he would not mind if gay rights were enshrined in a draft constitution being crafted.
“My beliefs on this issue are a matter of public record,” Tsvangirai said last week. “My beliefs manifest themselves in my practice. I am a Christian associated with the Methodist Church. I am a father. I am a grandfather. I am a family man.”
The letter to the Sadc-mandated facilitator notes several previous pleas to the state media to report fairly which have fallen on deaf ears.
“Unfortunately some elements in our midst continue to drag the country back into this abyss of uncertainty and continue to stall progress,” the letter says.
“Zimbabwean citizens clearly want to move forward and achieve real change and can only rely on Sadc and Africa to employ its wise counsel in ensuring that the Zimbabwe crisis is expeditiously resolved.”
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