Friday, August 05, 2005

"Zimbabwe's media no fourth estate"--Mahoso

Zimbabwe's reviled media henchman Tafataona Mahoso, speaking in an interview with the Herald said local media cannot, by virtue of it's founding principles, have the nation's goals and principles at heart. Therefore the media is no fourth estate in Zimbabwe. Does this explain why he has closed down four of Zimbabwe's independent papers all of which were founded and funded locally? Here's the excerpt.

"The media is a critical institution in society, which is why some have called it the fourth estate. Do you feel the Zimbabwe media can be described as the fourth estate?

No! Because of the origins of journalism in the first place. Media operators say that they are there to promote accountability, democracy, transparency, human rights and so forth, so we asked the question during the Media Ethics Committee: Where did journalism come from as an aspect of communication? Journalism started as part and parcel of the machinery of foreign intervention, and I always refer to the example of Henry Morton Stanley, who came to Africa assigned by the New York Herald Tribune in 1869, what was he looking for? He was looking for the North Atlantic agenda in Africa, he was not looking for Africans and he is not known for writing a story about what Africans were doing or saying, he is known for recognising a white man in Africa - "Dr David Livingstone, I presume?"

We are saying therefore, when did journalism drop this agenda and start becoming a fourth estate, and we say that the part of the media which represents the majority interests in Zimbabwe came from exile during the Rhodesian days, it came from Mozambique, from Zambia, to the extent that the Director General of the Rhodesian Broadcasting Corporation in 1976 told an American Editor, "the reason why Africans are not allowed anywhere near a microphone is that they when an African gets a microphone he stirs up violence against the whiteman". So when we saw Sida and Norad, coming back in the 1990s wanting to reinvent that minority media to make it mainstream again, we found we did not have a fourth estate. We have a struggle between the external foreign voice embedded among us, and the African voice which has come from exile and is establishing itself and has not yet fully overcome the obstacles created by the minority media, and one reason is that Zimbabwe is a neighbour to a country where the minority voice is still mainstream - South Africa. That is why a hangman judge, Hillary Squires of the UDI and Apartheid era is being celebrated in the South African media as a man who is fighting corruption, when in actual fact the fact that Squires is a judge is in itself a manifestation of white racism as a form of corruption. If we were living in an uncorrupted world, Squires would be on trial at a war tribunal for the crimes against humanity in Rhodesia. So it is not yet a fourth estate, it is struggling to be."
Off course some from the mainstream media had to respond to this highsounding gibberish. The Independent's Muckraker responded thus:
"DID you know that when Henry Morton Stanley came to Africa in 1869, he was not looking for Dr Livingstone as we all used to think? He was looking for the “North Atlantic agenda” in Africa.

This fascinating revelation came from an otherwise unenlightening interview last Saturday between Caesar Zvayi and Media and Information Commission chair Tafataona Mahoso in a vacant lot that used to be occupied by the late unlamented Nathaniel Manheru.

Mahoso complains about the “external foreign voice embedded among us and the African voice which has come from exile and is establishing itself and has not yet fully overcome the obstacles created by the minority media . . .”

In other words, the state, which controls 90% of the media and has a monopoly of the airwaves, still hasn't managed after 25 years of Stalinist controls to convince the populace of the authenticity of its voice or the credibility of its views. So other voices must be silenced while Mahoso and his state-pensioners turn up the volume of their tinny instruments!

Mahoso thinks judges that expose post-liberation corruption should be brought before a war crimes tribunal. As Anna Tibaijuka came close to recommending the same sort of thing for those who have recently inflicted such suffering upon Zimbabwe's urban populace, the note of panic in Mahoso's voice was understandable."
Off course Mahoso is stuck in a precolonial rut. Is the state's media which he fervently supports representativie of the "majority?" Are the patent and shameless lies and anti-opposition vitriol littered across the pages of the Herald supposed to be the "real African voice?"

To his credit, his fundamentalist nationalism does beg the question, "Who is telling Africa's story and to whom are representing it?"

Your thoughts?

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