Former ZBC correspondent opens up on challenges facing state media reporters – ZimEye

Former ZBC correspondent opens up on challenges facing state media reporters

VETERAN journalist and former ZBC correspondent Tapfuma Machakaire has shed light on the challenges faced by state media reporters when covering Gukurahundi, saying they were only shown dead bodies accompanied by press releases of the government.

There have been questions about the role state media journalists played as the late former President Robert Mugabe unleashed North Korea’s Fifth Brigade formed in Matabeleland and the Midlands to suppress dissent to his rule. .

The government, through state media, denied it while the West downplayed the significance of the killings when news of the atrocities broke. According to records, around 20,000 people died in the atrocities, and many more suffered physical and psychological abuse.

Machakaire lamented difficulties in covering Gukurahundi during a panel discussion on “the ethics of journalism in conflict situations” on the microblogging site Twitter, hosted by the US Embassy last Wednesday.

“But how ethical can one be? We did not have access to the information.

“The only information one could get was government information about the operations they were carrying out, not necessarily the atrocities operations they were alleging,” Machakaire noted.

“None of the perpetrators was held responsible for the atrocities of the 1980s.

“Among those involved are many who are now part of the ruling elites, including President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

“What little Mugabe has said since the 1980s has been a mixture of obfuscation and denial, saying the massacres were a ‘moment of madness’.”

Machakaire said reporters were taken to sites to view dead bodies without asking questions.

“And you can’t balance your story. You’re just sitting there. You are shown bodies and they give you a statement and that’s it,” he added.

US Embassy Chargé d’Affaires Thomas Hastings said freedom of the press and respect for human rights are essential to preventing conflict and securing peace.

“The United States seeks to prevent conflict in part by promoting the democratic values ​​that underpin a stable international system, because we believe that system is essential to freedom, prosperity, and peace,” Hastings said. .

“A free media plays an important role in conflict situations in particular, by informing the rest of the world of what is happening on the ground, shaping public opinion and, ultimately, helping to demand accountability. those responsible for the violence.

Stephen Buckley, former Africa bureau chief for the Washington Post and now professor of journalism at Duke University, said: “The fact is, covering conflict these days is more complicated than ever, in part because, all of First, wars are now fought both on the battlefield and via social media.

“And so that means that every conflict is potentially a conflict that we can all participate in.”

Mnangagwa has opened a public debate about Gukurahundi, but there has been little movement on the ground regarding truth, exhumations and reburials, and restorative justice as demanded by victims.-standard

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